In the 4th millennium BC in Egypt pearl shells were used as decorative things. You will also find pearls featured in major religious books like the Koran and Bible. Pearls origin is often clarified in astral and mythical terms. During middle ages, pearls were symbol of wealth and power amongst the royals. Pearl Age got triggered in 15th & 16th centuries, when pearl oyster banks got discovered in South and Central America. Wild oyster fishing started on a large scale in quest for gorgeous natural pearls, which led to depletion of pearl oyster banks.
Fortunately, today with the advent of pearl farming, cultured pearls are easily accessible at affordable price. Look at this site for pearl jewelry display.
Natural pearl formation
Pearl formation is miraculous. It is not mined like other gemstones from the earth but grow in live oysters under deep waters. Pearls are born with shimmery sparkle, soft inner glow and glossy luster. Natural pearl gets born when a foreign object like a shell piece or parasite accidentally lodges inside the soft inner body of an oyster. This irritant cannot be expelled, so the oyster’s body goes in a defensive mode.
It starts to secrete smooth crystalline substance, which gets layered around the irritant. This matter is ‘nacre’. As long as that irritant resides inside the body. Oyster consistently secretes nacre, which is layered on the irritant. Overtime the irritant gets encased in silky crystalline coating, which is the lustrous gem people adore to wear as pearls.
Cultured pearl formation
Cultured pearls are produced in the same way. The only difference is that a grafter implants irritant carefully inside the oyster. Then nature is allowed to create its miracle. The oysters used in pearl cultivation are bred specially to get exceptional color clarity and luster. Mantle tissue from host oyster is placed within the bred-oysters along with a nucleus.
A sac is formed around the nucleus and even nacre starts to be secreted. The oysters are returned to sheltered bays, which are loaded with nutrients. The oysters are well-nurtured in a pollutant free ambiance. Water temperature and the feeding conditions get checked daily. Overtime, when it is time for harvest, they oyster are brought ashore, opened and pearls are removed.
Each pearl gets sorted on the basis of their shape, size, luster and color. Hole gets drilled and now is the time to match and string, which is challenging. Trained experts perform this task. To string in a 16” necklace, there is a need to sift through minimum 10,000 pearls.