Pearls are the hard object made by an oyster or mollusk because of irritation of the outer living layer or mantle of the creature that is adjacent to the shell. Pearls can be cultivated in various molluscs including:
Currently most common pearls used in making jewelry come from either a freshwater mussel or a saltwater oyster. Jewelry is made with cultured pearls. With cultured pearls, a seed have been inserted into the shell of the mussel or oyster and the seed will irritant the mantel of the creature causing the irritation to trigger a substance to encapsulate the seed. With pearls that are called saltwater, the seed is frequently a round glass bead. For pearls that are freshwaterthe material is often a piece of the shell of the mussel.
This process of ‘culturing’ pearls was developed in Japan in the early 1900s. Japan had both saltwater oyster aqua-cultures and freshwater pearl aqua-culture. Japan introduced the freshwater culturing of pearls into China also in the early 1900s. Presently almost all pearls that are freshwater are available and cultured in China. The industry in Japan and the United States has been taken over by the Chinese.
If you make jewelry of your own, there are several sites where you can get the supplies that you need to make pearl jewelry. Many of these sites have a great assortment of cultured pearls from around the world including:
- Freshwater pearls
- Rice pearls
- Cultured seed pearls
- Saltwater pearls
These pearls can be found in every color possible.
You will also find a wide selection of pearls in various exotic shapes including:
- Coin pearls
- Biwa pearls
- Keshi pearls
- Button pearls
Also these pearls will be graded on a scale for quality rating such as:
Measurements are done by pearl width. You can order them online and will receive them strung on strands that are temporary and need to be re-strung before wearing.