A pearl is a round, hard object that is produced within the soft tissue of particular types of mollusks. They are made of calcium carbonate and are the reaction of a mollusk to an irritant within their shell. Pearls are formed around a tiny piece of material such as sand, dirt, rock, or in artificial pearls, a tiny ball that is inserted. Peals come in many shapes, sizes and colors and each of these factors affect how much they are worth. Pearls tend to be like the shells that produce them in luster and iridescence. So, where do these beautiful gemstones come from? Read on to find out.
Where do Pearls come from?
We know that pearls are produced by mollusks such as oysters and mussels. Saltwater mollusks that produce pearls belong to the Margaritiferae family and the freshwater pearl producing mollusks belong to the Unionidae family. Good quality pearls are produced by mollusks that have an iridescent shell. Mollusks such as the edible oyster have dull, brown shells and while they produce pearls they do not produce good quality, lustrous peals. The Margaritiferae family of mollusks is found predominantly in tropical waters and this is where the majority of the pearls on the market come from. Mollusks are fished either primarily for the pearls or for both the pearl and the shell (mother of pearl).
Pearl Oysters are fished mainly from Sri Lanka and Venezuela. They also come from the Persian Gulf, the coast of Japan and Shark Bay off the west coast of Australia. The Margaritifera vulgaris is the greatest saltwater pearl-producing oyster and it is mainly found in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Manaar. They are also found in other waters, but most of the populations live in the above mentioned places. The Margaritifera margaritifera species also produces a large number of pearls and can be found in the tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The largest pearls are found mainly off the coast of Australia, among the Sulu Islands and off the coast of many of the Malay Archipelago. China produces the largest number of freshwater pearls in the world.