Pearl farms across northern Australia are wrapping up this year's harvest and for the team at Cygnet Bay Pearls, north of Broome, there has been plenty to celebrate.
The Cygnet Bay harvest started with the very rare discovery of two natural pearls in one shell, and according to pearling manager Gary Firman the rest of the season delivered some quality specimens.
"The pearls are coming out really nicely this year and are an improvement on past years, which is always a good sign," he said.
"It's been a good year and it's produced some of the best pearls I've seen since I started working here.
"We're always doing different research programs and trialling different techniques and experiments, and some of them have paid off this year, which is good news."
The pearls, which have been harvested this year were "seeded" back in 2015, so it is a long wait for pearl farms to see how the crop has performed.
At the Cygnet Bay grading table, Sarah Brown said this year's harvest was a noticeable turn around for the farm.
"I've really enjoyed doing this year's harvest," she told ABC Rural while grading the last pearls of the season.
"We dropped our numbers there for a while and weren't happy with some of the groups that were coming out for various reasons.
"But I'm really confident, looking at this year's harvest, that a lot of the things the team are doing down at the research station, a lot of the decisions they're making are coming together and I'm really liking what's come out of this year's harvest."
Pearl industry working hard to change its fortunes
Over the past decade, pearl farms in northern WA have been dealing with two major issues: a drop in demand caused by the global financial crisis, and a mystery disease, which has led to widespread oyster shell mortality.
Demand has been slowly recovering, but the mystery disease remains just that.
Farms such as Cygnet Bay have been trialling a range of approaches to improve the situation, and have invested in a hatchery to breed shells on-farm.
Cygnet Bay general manager James Brown said research and better breeding programs were the key to the pearling industry's long-term prospects.
"Breeding programs are the primary tool in any agriculture or aquaculture venture to improve productivity and quality outcomes," he said.
"We are really at the early stages of a program that needs years if not decades to mature and give the industry a competitive advantage.
"We are obviously seeing some early up-lift, which helps with confidence in a program that needs an investment commitment of five to ten years minimum."
Mr Brown said the quality of the 2017 harvest was uplifting for his entire team.
"It's been so many tough years and below-average production outcomes that you can't believe how good it is to finally see a good crop," he said.
"The crop is a reflection of dozens of people's work stretching back two years, and seeing good pearls come out is one of the most rewarding experiences any pearl farmer gets."
Next year will be a significant harvest for Cygnet Bay, with the farm harvesting its first crop of pearls from shells grown in its own hatchery.