American Pearl | The World's Finest Pearls


A Brief History of Pearls: How Pearls form in the Oyster

  A brief history of pearls


Like many natural processes, the birth of a pearl takes time - but when the process is complete, the result is stunning.

How Do Oysters Make Pearls?

In order to understand how oysters make pearls, you must understand an oyster's body composition.

Oysters, which are a type of mollusk, have two shells. Each shell features a protective layer that covers the mollusk's organs. This protective layer is called the mantle, and it is responsible for safeguarding vital organs that keep the mollusk alive.

The Birth of a Pearl

Oysters make pearls in response to an irritant, such as a grain of sand or another object. When any irritant makes its way between the mollusk's shell and mantle, the creature produces nacre, a protective coating that helps reduce irritation. Nacre is also referred to as mother-of-pearl; it's made of microscopic crystals of calcium carbonate, and it also lines the interior of a mollusk's shell.

Layers of nacre coat the irritant, eventually forming an iridescent gem - the pearl.

The only difference between naturally developed pearls and cultured pearls is that a pearl farmer embeds an irritant between the shell and the mantle by cutting into the mollusk's tissues. With freshwater pearls, irritants do not need to be introduced; simply cutting the oyster's soft tissues is enough to begin the pearl-making process.

How Long Does it Take for Pearls to Develop?

Some pearls can develop in a period of 6 months. Larger pearls can take up to 4 years to develop.

Harvesting Pearls

Pearl farmers must have immense patience to wait for their oysters to develop pearls. When a pearl is ready, the harvester opens the shell, extracts the pearl and evaluates it for quality. Some oysters can produce 2 to 3 pearls over the courses of their lifetimes, but only oysters that have produced quality pearls in the past will begin the process again.

How pearls form in oysters
How pearls are harvested
How pearls brought to market
Know your Akoya pearls
Akoya Pearl Cultivation
Akoya Pearl Harvesting
Akoya Pearl Processing
Akoya Pearl Evaluation
Quality Factor One: Luster
Luster of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Two: Surface
Surface of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Three: Shape
Shape of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Four: Color
Color of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Five: Size
Size of Akoya Pearls
Know your South Sea pearls
South Sea Pearl Cultivation
South Sea Pearl Harvesting
South Sea Pearl Processing
South Sea Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of South Sea Pearls
Surface of South Sea Pearls
Shape of South Sea Pearls
Color of South Sea Pearls
Size of South Sea Pearls
Know your Tahitian pearls
Tahitian Pearl Cultivation
Tahitian Pearl Harvesting
Tahitian Pearl Processing
Tahitian Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of Tahitian Pearls
Surface of Tahitian Pearls
Shape of Tahitian Pearls
Color of Tahitian Pearls
Size of Tahitian Pearls
Gift Giving Occasions

  Previous   Next  

Pearls | Pearl Necklaces | Pearl Rings | Tahitian Pearls | South Sea Pearls | Freshwater Pearls

American Pearl Inc. 576 Fifth Ave, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10036 - Toll-free at 1-800-847-3275
Copyright © 2005 - 2012 American Pearl. All rights reserved. | Terms of Service