Almost all pearl jewelry in the marketplace today is made up of cultured pearls which means they were produced with human assistance by oysters or other mollusks at a pearl farm as opposed to being found by divers. To create a cultured pearl, a pearl farmer will trigger the natural process of pearl formation by inserting a small irritant into the oyster or mollusk. The oyster will then surround it with layer after layer of nacre. It is this nacre that gives pearls their beautiful luster. Creating a cultured pearl can take from 6 months to 3 years.
What Types of Pearls Are There?
Cultured pearls may either be freshwater pearls or saltwater pearls, depending on the type of oyster or mollusk that produces them and the climate where the oyster lives.
Freshwater pearls are the most plentiful and affordable type of pearl on the market. They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors, and are sometimes dyed to create a bright colorful look.
Saltwater akoya pearls are round, white (sometimes with a rose overtone), and are often used to make classic pearl necklaces or pearl earrings.
What Is Mother of Pearl?
Mother of Pearl is a type of shell so it can have much larger focal points. Most Mother of Pearl pieces are set as opposed to strung like a pearl necklace. It comes from the inside shell of a pearl producing oyster or mollusk. This shell is made up of nacre, the same material the oyster produces to coat a pearl.