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How many pearls can there be in one shell?

Today, the main niche of freshwater pearls on the world market is occupied by cultured pearls, that is, those grown in rivers and lakes. A huge share of pearls comes to us from China, which annually supplies tens of tons of pearls to the market. Freshwater pearls even grow in flooded, unused rice fields in China. There is a comfortable microclimate for mollusks, where they can quickly reproduce and grow beautiful pearls. Freshwater pearls are obtained from river and lake oysters. They live mainly in clean waters of rivers with not very strong currents. The size of river mollusks reaches 18 centimeters in length, weighs up to 300 grams, and their age sometimes reaches 50 years. Mollusks that live in fresh water belong to the family Unionidae. A well-known representative of this family in Europe, Margaritifera margaritifera, is valued as a producer of pearls, and beautiful buttons are also produced from its shell. It is believed that these amazing creatures can very quickly adapt to a new environment when climatic, physical, biological and even chemical conditions change. They are long-lived, and in natural conditions some individuals sometimes live up to 250 years. River pearls, unlike sea pearls, do not have a nucleus, that is, they are grown using a nuclear-free method. A piece of foreign tissue is planted into the mantle of the mollusk, which begins to be enveloped in layers of mother-of-pearl. This method is called nuclear-free, since sea pearls use a special ball core for this purpose. This is why freshwater pearls have a thicker layer of nacre than sea pearls. The nuclear-free method makes it possible to add several seeds to a mollusk and get several beautiful gems from one pearl mussel at once. One river oyster can simultaneously grow 12–16 pearls. As the pearls grow, they need to be turned over to prevent them from becoming flat. Despite this, perfectly round pearls make up a small percentage of the total number of freshwater pearls and are much more valuable. In 1,5 years, a river pearl grows up to 3 millimeters. In 3 years it can become 7 millimeters in size. River pearls will grow more than 7 millimeters only if another 4 years pass (7 years in total). Very rarely they are more than 10 millimeters, and their price in this case increases greatly. Freshwater pearls are very popular due to the variety of shades, shapes and sizes. Pearls have a diameter from 2 to 8 mm, their average size is 4–6 mm. The hard nacre of these pearls is more matte and does not have such a strong shine as sea pearls, but it is considered more durable and resistant to abrasion, which is not bad for jewelry. The color is a little uneven and may shift slightly from one shade to another. Freshwater pearls come in a variety of colors, but the tones are a little muted. The following shades are found: white, cream, pink-orange, lilac, champagne, pale purple, brown. River pearls are often irregular in shape. The shapes of freshwater pearls are different – drops, ovals, unusual shapes (baroque pearls). Perfectly round large pearls are very rare. Since the price of freshwater pearls is less than that of sea pearls, this allows you to create beautiful, affordable jewelry.

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Since ancient times, it was believed that natural pearls appear when oysters rise to the surface of the water at dawn and open their shells to collect dew droplets. And the collected droplets subsequently turn into pearls. A beautiful and interesting misconception.

In addition to the legend, we will tell you 14 Most Amazing Facts About Pearls, which you may not have even thought about:

1. Pearls are the only gemstone that is extracted from living animals.

2. All pearl oysters are born male and change to female at about three years of age.

3. La Peregrina is one of the most famous pearls in the world and means “incomparable” in Spanish. The 500-year-old unique pearl is pear-shaped and reaches the size of a large pigeon egg. Its owners were Philip II, King of Spain, Mary Tudor, Napoleon Bonaparte and Elizabeth Taylor.

4. All mollusks are capable of creating pearls. Saltwater pearls are collected from oysters, and freshwater pearls are collected from mussels.

5. Pearls have been considered precious since ancient times, as evidenced by an artifact from Mesopotamia dating back to approximately 2300 BC.

6. Each pearl is unique and has its own flaws. You will not find two identical pearls.

7. Pearl growth can take from several months to several years, and its development is influenced by water conditions, size and type of mollusk. It takes approximately 5 years to form an average-sized pearl.

8. 95% of pearls today are grown on pearl farms. When harvesting pearls, the mollusk stays alive and produces more pearls because small balls are re-implanted into it, which then turn into pearls.

9. The color of the pearl depends on the internal elements of the shell of the mollusk and can vary from white and ivory to pink, black, purple and even gold. And only one out of 13 thousand pearls is pink.

10. Only 5% of all pearls are grown in salt water. Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls are the three main types of saltwater cultured pearls. Typically, ocean oysters are grown with only one pearl at a time.

11. Freshwater pearls make up approximately 95% of the world’s total pearl production. One mussel can produce 30 to 50 pearls at a time.

12. There are eight shapes of pearls – round, semicircular, button, drop, oval, hoop, baroque and semi-baroque.

13. Pearl was the most popular middle name out of 320 given to baby girls in England and Wales in 2012.

14. In 1916, Louis Cartier, one of the world’s famous jewelers, bought a New York mansion on 5th Avenue for two natural pearl necklaces worth $1,2 million.

So, dear Ladies, you can now surprise your interlocutors not only with the beauty of pearls, but also with the most interesting facts!

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