How Pearls Form

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pearls-formation

How Pearls are Formed

The pearl is born in a miraculous natural event. The oysters below the surface of the sea / water body produce pearls. Most of the Gemstones must be cut and polished to bring out their beauty. But, pearls no need such treatment to reveal their gorgeousness. Unlike any other gem on the earth, pearls are born from oysters with a sparkle, lustre and soft inner glow.

When a parasite or a piece of shell that lodges in an oyster’s soft inner body where it cannot be expelled, the oyster’s body takes defensive action in order to ease the irritant. In order to protect itself from the irritant, the oyster begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the irritant.

The secreting substance is called as “nacre”, the mother of the pearl. As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete nacre around it, layer upon layer. As the time passes, the irritant, may be a parasite or a piece of shell or a particle of sand will be completely encased by the crystalline coatings. The result, ultimately, is the lovely, shining gem called pearl.

There are three types of pearls: Natural, Cultured and Imitation

Natural pearls form when a parasite or a grain of sand works its way into an oyster’s body. As a defence mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called ‘nacre’, is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed.

A Cultured Pearl forms in the same process. But the only difference is that the irritant is a surgically implanted piece of shell. These irritants are most often formed from mussel shells. To produce a quality cultured pearls, it takes a sufficient time – generally at least 3 years – for a thick layer of nacre to be deposited, resulting in a beautiful, gem-quality pearl. If the pearls are rushed out of the oyster too quickly, the quality will be low as they will have too-thin coat of nacre.

Imitation pearls are a different story altogether. In most cases, a glass bead is dipped into a solution made from fish scales. This coating is thin and may eventually wear off. One can usually tell an imitation by rubbing it across the teeth: Fake pearls glide across your teeth, while the layers of nacre on real pearls feel gritty.

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