Where Do Pearls Come From?

February 13, 2019 0 Comments

Used for thousands of years for making wonderful pieces of jewelry, pearls still remain classic. There’s rarely a woman in the world who doesn’t enjoy wearing these stunning little glistening jewels that are truly like no other jewelry.

But where do they come from? How are they made? Most importantly, how are pearls harvested?

We answer these and other relevant questions here in detail, so read on.

How Are Pearls Made?

As you may already know, pearls come from oysters and mussels, but clams can also create them, although that’s a bit rare. Mussels create freshwater pearls, while oysters create saltwater pearls that are rarer in occurrence, which makes them more valuable.

A natural pearl begins forming when a foreign substance, that is, an irritant finds its way into a mollusk. That foreign particle irritates the mantle, which is an organ that creates the shell using nacre - the composite material that lines the inner shell layer.

The mantle then starts coating the irritant with nacre to protect itself. It covers it with thousands of nacre layers, which eventually forms a pearl. Since nacre consists mostly of aragonite, natural pearls have that iridescent luster we’re all familiar with.

It takes between 2-4 years for a single pearl to fully develop.

How Are Pearls Harvested?



Harvesting pearls is a very delicate process because you don’t want to harm the mollusk in any way. That’s why professionals use special surgical instruments, not to mention extreme precision and care, to safely remove pearls from mollusks.

The harvesting process starts by opening a mollusk very gently and just enough for the special instrument to be inserted without causing any harm. A harvester then takes the pearl using that special tool and carefully closes the mollusk.

During the harvesting process, a pearl harvester can even insert a new nucleus inside the mollusk to start the formation of a new pearl. A nucleus can be a bead or other object that the harvester inserts into the mollusk’s mantle to cause it to activate its defense mechanism again and start covering the nucleus with nacre, slowly growing another pearl.

Is There a Difference Between Cultured & Natural Pearls?

Yes, cultured and natural pearls do actually differ, but only in the way they are created. Natural pearls are formed when an irritant gets inside a mollusk entirely by chance, while the formation of cultured pearls starts with a pearl harvester nudging a mollusk in the right direction, as discussed in the previous section.

There are plenty of pearl farms around the world, which is why there is an abundance of cultured pearls out there. Since natural pearls are quite rarer in occurrence, they are much more expensive than their cultured counterparts.

Are Black Pearls Natural?

Pearls can be dyed black, but there’s actually a natural black pearl, which is extremely rare. A black pearl, also known as the Tahitian pearl, is formed inside a Tahitian black-lip oyster called the Pinctada margaritifera. These oysters live in the South Pacific and have a black nacre, which creates the black color seen in these pearls.

If you’re interested in cultured pearls of the highest quality, be sure to check out our collection of stunningly elegant and unique pearl jewelry. Kyllonen Luxury can also provide you with custom pearl jewelry, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a custom design in mind. Contact us at any time and we’ll help you find the right pearl jewelry for you.