New freshwater pearl museum opens doors to its first tour group

BENTON COUNTY, Tenn. — Pearls were a girl’s best friend, Monday at Birdsong Resort and Marina, as they opened the doors for their new freshwater pearl museum and showroom to its first tour group. This new location was built after a fire left their original museum in ashes last December.

“Man, it’s great; having everything wrapped up into one where we’re able to feed folks, we’re able to show them the pearls, the big 70 inch flat screen,” said Bob Keast, owner of Birdsong Resort and Marina.

The tour consisted of education on how a pearl is made as well as the history of the only freshwater pearl museum in North America. Guests we spoke with say they learned a lot about how fresh water pearls are actually cultured in the farm on the Kentucky Lake.

“They’ll take a live piece of material out of one shell, and they’ll take a special little instrument, and they’ll go inside the mantle on a live one,” explained John, a diver at Birdsong Resort and Marina, “and they’ll insert it about three to four to five millimeters.”

“It was fascinating. I loved the cultural awareness; we brought this culture over from Japan. I love how they just opened up a mollusk and there was a little pearl that popped out, and it was just really such a neat process,” said tour attendee Lauren Johnson.

Keast said he is proud of his new location and continuing the legacy of a tradition that has been in his family for generations.

“It is a fresh start for 2018, and we’re so proud to be an icon here in West Tennessee,” Keast said.

Keast tells WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that this tour was not the first one they have hosted since the fire, but the first one that showcased their new facility.

Birdsong Resort and Marina representatives say, their next tour will be in January.

You can learn more about the freshwater pearl farm and how to get involved at

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