In the village of Chandanpet just outside Hyderabad, almost the entire population is engaged in the delicate art of drilling pearls. A skill they have practised for generations, making Hyderabad one of the largest drilling centres in India.
Once the pearls are drilled, they are boiled for about four days to bleach them and rid them of their dark color. They are placed in glass bottles containing hydrogen peroxide, water and ether and sunned for four or five days in glass sun boxes with a mirror base. Finally they are washed and separated through series of different shapes and sizes.
Pearls are also graded according to color. While pink pearls and black pearls are also considered to be of good quality, white pearls have traditionally been most popular. A good quality white pearl reflects a lovely sky blue color under ultraviolet light, while a poor quality one has a greenish or mustardish sheen. Black pearls that have a green sheen and baroque (irregular shaped) pearls that reflect a rainbow of colors are also amongst the more valuable varieties. While black and pink pearls are also rare and beautiful, most traditional Hyderabad jewellery is made with white pearls