What Are Cultured Pearls?
Are cultured pearls real? Yes, these pearls are real pearls, grown in either freshwater or saltwater. They form when an irritant inserts into an oyster shell. Once the irritant is there, layers of nacre (pearl layer) form over the irritant to create the pearl.
Some years ago, the Japanese found that they could “plant” tiny beads inside oyster shells and produce pearls in this way. Such pearls are known as cultured pearls.
These pearls are not an imitation, yet they are not entirely a natural growth. To produce these pearls, workers carefully pry open the oysters’ shells and insert tiny beads made of shell. The oyster at once starts covering the irritating object with layers of pearl.
Nacre, (pearl layer) the calcium-based substance that gives pearls their iridescent luster, builds up over time. After several years, a luminous pearl forms. Pearl oysters produce natural pearls without any help from man.
The first cultured pearls harvest was in 1916. The first commercial crops of pearls were not obtained until more than a decade later. The discovery of the seeding technique revolutionized the industry.
High-quality cultured pearls and natural pearls are indistinguishable at a glance. They have the same luster, weight, and depth of shine.
Cultured pearls fall into two general categories: saltwater pearls from oysters and freshwater pearls from mussels.
Both mollusks produce pearls of a similar iridescent luster, but freshwater pearls are less expensive due to the relative ease of producing them.