Tag Archives: pearls

OYSTERS AND PEARLS

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If you’re a sea buff, it’s important to know about oysters and pearls. Along time ago, pearls came from wild shelled mollusks. Pearl divers swam for them, and hundreds of pearl oysters or shelled mussels had to be opened just to obtain one pearl. This made the price of pearls extraordinary in Queen Elizabeth’s days. Pearls were the likes of kings and queens and never a common place thing. Although, pearl divers still dive for wild pearls in certain parts of the world to add to the luxury of the pearl market, most pearls are now grown in a laboratory much like a harvest. A tiny irritant is injected into the shelled mollusk along with an implanted bead usually, and the creature creates a pearl as a protection against the irritant. The timeframe is a whopping one year for an Akoya oyster to be harvested and much longer for other species. Many people think a grain of sand is often the irritant that causes a pearl to form, but in the wild it is usually a parasite inside the shell or an exterior shell attack. A pearl can also come from clams such as the most famous and largest natural pearl ever The Pearl of Lao Tzu. Weighing a staggering 14 pounds, the pearl was valued at around 40 million dollars by The Guiness Books of World Records. The internal make-up of a wild pearl like those from clams and a cultivated one are different, and X-ray detection can discern the two. In The Opaque Stones, I have many pearls and oysters, and  before writing the book, like a fool, I always just thought oysters were wild pearl producers, harvested that way, and a particular species excelled at it. After reading about the process, I learned some fascinating things for writing the book. You won’t get much more about it from reading my book than I have here, but it’s worth a look for fun. If you liked oysters and pearls, you might like the art of treasure hunting.

Trivia: Why won’t you get a pearl in an oyster by accident while eating out? Answer: Because pearls generally come from a different species called a pearl oyster.