One of the most fascinating things about Pearls over most other gemstones, is that it needs no polishing or cutting, they are naturally "Pearl-fect"! It is a natural, organic product from a living creature - How cool! Another interesting thing is they are like fingerprints, meaning that no two Pearls are exactly alike. Any Mollusk that produces a shell can produce a Pearl. This includes Abalone, Marine Snails, Clams, & Oysters.
The notion that a Pearl is formed when a grain of sand enters the shell of an Oyster is a myth. Its actually from a parasite or a chunk of shell that lodged itself in the soft tissue on the inner body of the Oyster. This causes the irritated area to emit a crystalline substance called Nacre. This builds up layer after layer, eventually forming a small Pearl. Pearls are developed in just a few short months, but can keep growing for up to 20 years!
Freshwater and saltwater Pearls look similar but are sourced from different locations. Freshwater Pearls come from various species of freshwater Mussels that are found in Lakes, Rivers, Ponds, and other bodies of fresh water. Saltwater Pearls are found in Pearl Oysters from the Ocean. Today, cultured Pearls from Pearl Oysters & freshwater Mussels make up majority of those currently on the market. Due to over harvesting back in the 1800's many natural Pearl beds were destroyed, so natural saltwater Pearls aren't as easy to find anymore.
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