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Freshwater pearls come in an array of natural colors.

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Cultured Pearls


Cultured pearls are the result of pearl farmers inducing certain species of oysters and mussels to produce pearls by carefully inserting one or more small pieces of mantle tissue into a host mollusk. Many people use the term cultured pearls to refer only to pearls produced by saltwater oysters; however, cultured pearls can be from saltwater oysters or freshwater mussels. The pearl growing process observed naturally in oysters and mussels is the same. The chemical composition of the nacre of either is identical.


Freshwater (Mussel) Cultured Pearls


In this purest form of pearl culturing, the grower places an array

of small pieces of mantle tissue from a sacrificed mussel in between the shell and mantle tissue of a host freshwater mussel. In some cases, growers will place as many as 20 pieces against either shell. After this inoculation process, the mussels are arranged on caged racks and returned to freshwater. A small grower can manage thousands of mussels.


If successful each of the pieces of tissue will stimulate the formation of a pearl sac and eventual layering of nacre over the decaying piece of tissue. Once the tissue has triggered the pearl formation, it dries up, decomposes, and virtually disappears.


After years of careful water and animal management, the pearls reach a marketable diameter. Growers harvest the pearls by prying open the mussel and removing the pearls. Most pearls grown in this fashion are highly irregularly shaped and have limited value in the

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