The wondrous lustre of the natural South Sea pearl that sat on his desk was Nick Paspaley’s lodestar, guiding him in his quest for the perfect conditions to produce these magnificent treasures of nature.
‘It took years,’ he admits. ‘I knew that until I could produce farmed pearls of this quality I hadn’t succeeded.’ That obsession with quality, mingled with an acute observation of the natural world, helped build a $200 million export industry on the foundation inspired by Nick’s father, pearling pioneer Nicholas Paspaley.
Despite the best of Japanese technology, attempts to cultivate the giant South Sea pearl oysters had mostly ended in failure when, in the early 1980s, Nick realised it was all wrong. To cultivate a natural pearl, you had to create as close to pristine, natural conditions for the oyster as possible at every stage of the process. That was what he set out to do.
Today 20 thriving pearl farms, businesses in marketing, marine engineering, air transport, cattle, pigs, sheep, wine and property testify to what a deep insight into Australia’s natural environment, combined with a spirit of innovation and a deep commitment to developing his industry and community, can achieve.
In recognition of his pioneering contribution to Australia’s export industry, Nick Paspaley was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1999. Appointments as Companions in the General Division are made to recognise eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia.