10 Handy Dandy Facts about Pearls
There are three birthstones associated with the month of June! They are pearls, moonstone and alexandrite. I decided to focus on the pearl for now. Here are some factoids that are sure to delight the nerd in us all.
- A pearl is produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk or another animal, such as a conulariid.
- Naturally occurring pearls are extremely rare these days.
- Pearls can be found in saltwater and freshwater, but remember, they are farmed, not naturally occurring.
- The pearl is the result of a defense mechanism! When an irritant (that classic example: a grain of sand) makes its way inside the oyster, clam or mussel, a fluid is produced to coat the invader. Layer upon layer is deposited. The substance is called “nacre” and it gives pearls that beautiful luster.
- Nacre is also known as mother of pearl. This nacre is also an inner shell layer for some mollusks.
- Farmed, saltwater pearls are created by inserting a “bead nucleus” that acts as that irritant so the mollusk will start producing nacre to coat it. Farmed freshwater pearls often use a piece of tissue rather than a bead nucleus and they produce pearls with a thicker nacre.
- Pearls come in many colors and shapes.
- The shape of the irritant determines the shape of the pearl.
- Imitation pearls are usually beads coated in glass.
- The color of the pearl is influenced by the outer color of the mollusk’s shell. The color of pearls can also be altered by bleaching or dyeing or a combination of these techniques.