There is no denying that pearls are beautiful in all their forms and colors. They are a sought after jewelry item and their popularity has grown over the last decade due to our ability to make pearls artificially. It is little wonder with so many pearls around that people are interested in how they are made.
How Are Pearls Made Naturally?
A pearl is a hard object that is produced in the soft tissue of a shelled mollusk such as an oyster or a clam. It is made up of calcium carbonate which is the same substance that the shell of the mollusk is made of. Naturally occurring pearls are rare and hard to come across and it is only recently that people discovered how pearls are formed. A natural pearl is formed when an irritant such as sand or a parasite enters the shell of the mollusk. The mollusk forms are pearl sac around the irritant and produce a mucus-like substance made of calcium carbonate to coat it. The process is repeated dozens of times and the mucus hardens to form a pearl.
How Are Pearls Made Artificially?
Artificially made pearls are known as cultured pearls and are made by a tissue transplant. A tiny piece of tissue is transplanted into a donor shell to produce a pearl sac. The donor mollusk then produces the calcium carbonate mucus and a pearl is formed. Some cultured pearls are formed by placing a spherical bead into the oyster and the letting the natural processes of the oyster turn it into a pearl.
Freshwater pearls are produced by mussels who can produce up to 40 to 50 pearls at a time. These a generally less valuable than ocean pearls and can be brought for a lower price. They also tend to be much smaller.
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