Question: What are pearls?
Answer: Pearls are made from the secretion of calcium carbonate, called mother of pearl (nacre), and conchiolin, an organic substance that binds the mother of pearl around an irritant such as a grain of sand inside the soft tissue of mollusks.
Question: How are pearls formed?
Answer: Pearls are formed by a layering of mother of pearl (nacre) in oysters, mussels, and certain other mollusks. The nacre then hardens and becomes smooth, silky, and usually round. The object that is formed is called a pearl.
Question: What are natural pearls?
Answer: Natural pearls are those that develop in oysters and other mollusks without human intervention. They are created by natural processes without the help of humans.
Question: Where are the mollusks that form natural pearls found?
Answer: Mollusks that produce natural pearls are found in fresh water lakes and rivers and in bodies of salt water such as oceans and seas.
Question: Is there a noticeable difference between cultured pearls and natural pearls?
Answer: Many believe that there are no real discernable differences between natural and cultured pearls but to the expert, the natural pearl usually has a smaller nucleus with deeper layers of nacre while the cultured pearl has a larger nucleus and thinner layers of nacre.
Question: Are natural pearls found in large quantities?
Answer: Natural pearls can still be found but oil and gas spills, raw sewage, and other pollutants have seriously depleted the natural habitats where mollusks usually live and thrive.
Question: How are natural pearls harvested?
Answer: Natural pearls are harvested by divers but diving for natural pearls is not as profitable as it once was because most pearls today are cultivated on oyster farms.
Usually, natural pearls are weighed in grains or carats and prices set according to the weight. Cultured pearls are usually priced by their sizes.
The value of any given pearl is determined by it's condition, it's color and luster, it's size, and it's shape. Like all gemstones, natural pearls are prized for their beauty.
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