Macedonia's craftsmen retain secret behind Ohrid pearls

OHRID, Macedonia, Aug 23 (Reuters) - In Macedonia’s ancient town of Ohrid, two families hold the secret to the composition of the famed Ohrid pearls which have been worn by European and Balkan queens for years.

The Filevi and Talevi families have been making the jewellery in the UNESCO cultural heritage site since the 1920s, coating an emulsion with secret ingredients on to tiny pieces of mother-of-pearl.

“I received it (the secret recipe) from my father Nikola, my father ... from my grandfather Mihajlo, and my grandfather ... from my great-grandfather Nikola,” said Mihajlo Filev, the current owner of the family business.

The process of making the Ohrid pearl begins in winter when plasica, one known ingredient of the emulsion, is caught from the Ohrid lake.

At least eight layers of the emulsion are coated to create the pearl. The more layers of coating, the bigger the price, with pieces of jewellery easily reaching hundreds of euros.

Some of the jewellery made by the Filev and Talev families have been worn by top dignitaries including Britain’s Queen Elisabeth and Queen Margrethe of Denmark.

Reporting by Marjan Ognenovski; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Patrick Johnston