||A brief history of pearls
HOW PEARLS FORM IN OYSTERS
How Are Pearls Formed in Oyster?
The pearl formation process is quite mystical. For those who aren't deeply educated on the process, it can seem a little bit like Mother Earth's magic. And, indeed, it is. How do these seemingly commonplace little mollusks turn out exquisitely lustrous, near-perfect spheres? Like many natural processes, the birth of a pearl takes time. But when the process is complete, the result is stunning. In this piece, we'll answer all of your most pressing questions about how a pearl is formed.
How Do Oysters Make Pearls?
So, the real question is, how are pearls made? 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.
Although pearl clams and mussels exist, they are incredibly rare . N early all high-quality pearls come from oysters.
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, with cultured pearls, 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. S imply cutting the oyster's soft tissues is enough to begin the pearl-making process.
How Long Does it Take to Make a Pearl?
Once the irritant has been planted, how long does it take for a pearl to form? Some pearls can develop in a period of six months. Larger pearls can take up to four years to develop. This is one of several reasons why larger pearls can yield higher values.
Pearl farmers must have immense patience to wait for a pearl inside an oyster shell to develop. When a pearl in an oyster is ready, the harvester opens the shell, extracts the pearl and evaluates it for quality. Some oysters can produce two to three pearls over the course of their lifetime, but only an oyster with pearls of good quality will repeat the process of producing a pearl.