Stones by zodiac signs

Is it possible to find pearls in a river mussel?

Pearls are born in the bodies of mollusks, colonies of which are found in warm sea waters near the equator, and river colonies in reservoirs in Europe, North America, southeast China, Japan and southwest Asia. Until the 15th century, together with emerald and ruby, these were the most valuable stones, until people began to polish diamonds. Shellfish have been bred and pearls grown since the 13th century. On January 27, 1896, the Japanese Kokichi Mikimoto received a patent for growing pearls: a mother-of-pearl ball from the shell of a freshwater mollusk was “implanted” into an oyster. This gave impetus to industrial cultivation. What is the difference between marine and river pearls? Which ones are better to choose? Ukrzoloto will tell you everything.

What kind of pearls are there?

All pearlescent gemstones can be divided into natural wild ones, which are formed without human intervention, and natural ones cultivated on special oyster farms. And according to the place of cultivation they distinguish sea ​​and river pearls.

How are freshwater and sea pearls grown?

  1. A mother-of-pearl bead is placed in the clam.
  2. The sink is placed in a body of water with ideal pH and temperature.
  3. To get a good shape, the shells are turned over from time to time.
  4. Cultivation of sea pearls can last about three years, river pearls – about two.

In the 10000th and first half of the 1952th centuries, pearls were mined using barbaric methods, destroying generations of pearl mussels. More than XNUMX shells were opened for one stone. Since XNUMX, the extraction of natural pearls has been prohibited throughout the world. Today it is only cultivated. Pearls grow in natural conditions. The only difference is the reason for the formation of a pearl: A solid or soft organic implant is inserted into the body of a living mollusk.


Sea pearls have a bright mother-of-pearl luster and shimmer in the sun. Freshwater pearls have a matte shine. This difference arises from the alkalinity of the salt water. Fresh stone has no salts, so the stone is simpler in appearance. The stronger the shine, the more valuable the pearl. Interestingly, in winter the layers of mother-of-pearl are thinner and denser, and in summer they are thicker, so they do not sparkle so brightly.

A common stereotype is that all pearls are of a noble mother-of-pearl color. But in reality, sea pearls come in a variety of shades: soft pink, gray and even black with a slight purple tint. But river stone is almost never bright. There are specimens with bluish and greenish tints. The color scheme will help determine the origin of the pearl. Shelf samples amaze with their uniform whiteness without color flaws, rich, uniform shades. Freshwater specimens, most often in pastel cream and lavender shades, may have gray or yellow spots. The color of the pearl depends on the type of mollusk it grew in and on external factors (temperature and salinity of the water). Black pearls are considered one of the most valuable. Its homeland is French Polynesia (Tahiti). The high cost is due to its rarity, high quality and large diameter.


Nature creates miracles, but perfectly round natural pearls are more of a happy accident than a rule. Therefore, stud earrings of natural origin from the same pair can sometimes differ quite a bit in shape. Pearls from the rivers most often have an irregular shape (oval and long), and marine ones are round. Therefore, if your necklace or bracelet is made from oval or ovoid beads, you can independently draw conclusions about their origin from the bottom of the river. The spherical shape is considered impeccable. Pear-shaped, teardrop-shaped, round and semicircular configurations are also found. Shapeless stones of bizarre shape are called “baroque”. Most often, these are formed in mollusks of river origin. Pearls that resemble people, body parts, animals or objects are known as “monster” or “paragon”.

Surface finish

Sea pearls are smooth and round. Freshwater pearls have a slightly rough texture.

Sea pearls have a wide variety of sizes – from 6 to 18 mm. Among freshwater pearls there are specimens up to 7 mm in diameter.

Mother of pearl layer thickness

Sea pearls have a thin coating: in 1,5 years they can only grow to 1,5-2 mm. River pearls are composed almost entirely of mother-of-pearl.


Although freshwater pearls do not sparkle as brightly, they are highly durable. These are the perfect jewelry for every day. Due to the thinness of mother-of-pearl, the top layer of stones of marine origin is erased, and the stones lose their exquisite shine. Although everything is individual and depends on the manner of wearing and care.


Sea pearls are more expensive than river pearls, although they have a thin layer of nacre. The difference is related to the growing process, because the marine method requires more time and significant costs for maintaining oysters. This adds to the danger, because in the sea it is almost impossible to protect shells from storms and temperature changes. A sea oyster can contain no more than three core cores, but a river shell can produce more than ten pearls. The final price of the jewelry is also influenced by the shine of the stones and the shape.

How to distinguish sea pearls from river ones?

You need to be an experienced specialist or buyer with good knowledge. Often manufacturers and stores indicate the origin of the pearls on the tag. Traditional methods – testing stones or rubbing pearls against each other – are far from ideal. To determine the exact origin of pearls, you need an endoscope or a cross-section of the stones.

Which pearls to choose – sea or river pearls?

Once you know the main differences between river and sea stones, you can try to determine its origin yourself. The final decision will also be influenced by the design of the decoration. The main thing is that the jewelry gives you pleasant emotions.

Mussels are a marine bivalve mollusk. In our country, mussels are often called their freshwater relatives – the toothless mussel and the common pearl barley. These bivalves are active filter feeders and contribute to the biological purification of water bodies / Photo: from the personal archive of Andrey Fedorov

The clear river hides real jewels in its depths. The Vecherka correspondent went on a hunt for mussels and mussels, which we often call mussels.

It all started with a story that has already been forgotten. About ten years ago I took part in spearfishing competitions in the Strogino floodplain. I wasn’t particularly lucky then. Realizing that the result would be so-so, I decided to lift several large bivalves from the bottom at the end of the time allotted for the competition. I was going to use them to make stands for several of my miniature marine-themed sculptures. Imagine my surprise when, having opened one of the shells, I found in it a dark-colored pearl the size of a small pea. Now I was just about to find out if I had imagined all this. Fortunately, the weather was quite favorable for diving to the bottom of the Stroginskaya floodplain. Catch and pearl My friends from the Sea Hunters club liked the idea of ​​looking for pearls right within the city even more than regular fish hunting (see. “VM” dated July 27, 2017). — What size should I take mussels? – asked Alexander Udalov, putting on a wetsuit. – The bigger, the better. It is more likely that something can be found in large mollusks. At a depth of three to four meters there was no longer any aquatic vegetation, but the entire bottom was dotted with colonies of mussels. True, not very large. They decided not to disturb them. Let them grow and clean the water. After all, river mussels feed on microorganisms in the water – they work as biofilters. Actually, sea and river mussels are caught not so much for pearls. They are also a delicacy. However, it is better not to eat mussels caught within the city, near industrial enterprises, as they accumulate chemicals that may be in the water. At a depth of 12 meters, we caught about fifty large mussels in an hour and a half. — The bottom topography is very beautiful. There are a lot of promising pits,” Alexey Ryazantsev shares his impressions. He dives in the Stroginskaya floodplain for the first time. But his partner Alexander Udalov caught a dozen crayfish along the way. I couldn’t resist, I couldn’t swim past (after a short photo shoot, all the crayfish were safely released to their crayfish “homes”). I dumped the entire catch into the bathroom at home, filling it with cold water. I decided to open the shells the next day. In the morning I made sure that all the caught mollusks were alive. They opened their doors and demanded food. And somehow I felt sorry for them. What if you don’t boil the mussels to check for the presence of pearls, but artificially place a small foreign body in each and release it back into the reservoir, and after two or three years see what comes of this idea? After all, this is exactly how they get saltwater cultured pearls in Japan, Vietnam and Thailand, and they get them in tons. For the operation of “pearling” the caught mussels, I needed a bowl of water, tweezers and small plastic granules, which are used for repairing plumbing fixtures. At a temperature of 100 degrees, these granules turn into a plastic mass, which is then used to seal holes and cracks in pipes. He carefully took the mussel and inserted a small granule into the mollusk through the open flap with tweezers. He immediately closed the door, swallowing the “treat.” In this way, all the caught mollusks were “pearled” and released into the Big Garden Pond, which is located not far from my house. Of course, in two or three years they will spread throughout the entire reservoir, but they will not disappear from the pond. When the time comes, I’ll check what came out of this idea. Dive deeper However, the question of whether there are river pearls in Moscow reservoirs and the Moscow region remained open. All my acquaintances, the underwater hunters who could help me in this strange enterprise, left, and I had to rely on my own strength. Knowing from experience that river bivalve mollusks settle in large colonies in large water areas, I chose the Zhestylevo Reservoir for my next pearl fishing. . The water near the shore was in full bloom and was cloudy. Visibility is low, all hope is given to a powerful flashlight. However, at great depths the water was colder and clearer. Not a single mussel on the sandy soil. But there was a lot of fish: a herd of carp, eight heads, lazily, like cows, nibbling grass on the edge of a six-meter hole, not paying the slightest attention to me. They scoffed, or perhaps they saw the underwater swimmer for the first time and did not show much concern. This is how moose usually behave when they see a person for the first time. This huge thing stands chest-deep in the water right next to the shore and looks with interest at your passing boat, as if asking: “Who are you? What do you want in my forest? A school of carp slowly sank into the depths, and I saw a whole colony of mussels in the hole. Surfaced to rest. Nearby on the shore there is a small fishing clearing and a pair of willow slingshots for donks. Apparently, anyone who recently cast a fishing rod here knows about this hole, where large fish like to gather. On the first dive I collected about a dozen mussels in a net.

Mussels from the bottom of the Zhestylevo reservoir raised to the surface / Photo: from the personal archive of Andrey Fedorov

You emerge. You rest for a couple of minutes, focusing on the fishing clearing, and then again for the next batch. I filled the net in half an hour. Cat’s joy At home, from the mezzanine, he took out a battered, smoked seven-liter can and put it on the fire. Soon the kitchen was filled with the long-forgotten aroma of the Black Sea, when we went to Crimea as savages as students. They shot mullet, croaker, spiny, poisonous scorpionfish from underwater guns and peeled mussels from the stones. In the evening all this was cooked over a fire. Our girls especially liked the mussels cooked over charcoal. They even held a competition to see who could find the most transparent grains in them. Not often, but sometimes they came across some kind of pearlescent substance. Then the lucky woman ran to the sea, holding the “jewel” in her palm. She made a wish and threw her pearl into the sea. Now our cats came running into the kitchen, attracted by the smell. They rumbled, demanding their percentage of the unusual brew. They say that cats will never eat sausage or other food if it is spoiled or contains harmful substances. When the mussels were cooked and I began to gut them, Lynx and Mokin naturally went wild. They climbed into the cauldron with their impudent faces, interfering with the process of “mining pearls.” “At least we’ll save on cat food today,” the wife softened. I wanted to say something else, but didn’t have time. Something oval fell out of the sink onto the cutting board. There was silence, broken only by the contented purring of the cats near the table. – Is this a pearl? — the wife asked incredulously, rolling the pearl on the wet cutting board with her finger. “It looks like it,” he answered her, not believing his eyes. – Small, but beautiful! Mother of pearl. Oh! The spark flashed inside! Lovely! You need to go to the place where you caught it, make a wish and throw it into the water,” the wife rejoiced, remembering her youth, “just first take a photo as a keepsake.” A week later she threw the pearl where I showed her. What I wished for, I didn’t ask. I think something good for everyone we love.

Mussels at the bottom of the Zhestylevo Reservoir / Photo: from the personal archive of Andrey Fedorov

ANCIENT UNDERWATER FISHING In ancient times, pearls were mined in Rus’ even in the Moscow River. They were used to decorate women’s hats, clothes, wine cups for boyars and princes, and icon frames. Moreover, they even exported it to Europe, where it was highly valued. Unlike sea pearls, freshwater pearls are smaller and not as white. But it was valued even more than the sea one. They mined it this way: they made a small raft from logs, in the center of which they cut a hole with a diameter of 30–40 centimeters. A wooden pipe was inserted into it, one edge of which was covered with transparent mica. Through such a “periscope in reverse”, pearl divers examined the bottom. Having found a cluster of shells, they dropped an anchor and pulled them to the surface with a special tong pole and put them in baskets. On the shore, other crew members opened the shells and, if they were lucky, took out the pearls. During the day, a team of 3-4 people mined no more than a dozen pearls of various denominations, removing hundreds of shells in the process. Then the fashion for domestic pearls faded away. But this does not mean that it is no longer in our rivers! DIRECT SPEECH Vladimir Tokarev, ichthyologist, chief fish farmer of the All-Union Research Institute of Freshwater Fisheries: – River pearls are found mainly in the northern regions of the country: in Siberian rivers and reservoirs of the Arkhangelsk region. As far as I know, freshwater pearls are a rare occurrence in the rivers and lakes of the Moscow region. As far as I know, no one cultivates it on purpose either. Today on various forums you can read recipes for preparing river mussels. I do not recommend eating river mussels, even after careful heat treatment. The fact is that bivalve mollusks act as a natural water filtrate in reservoirs, accumulating harmful substances, including heavy metals. BTW Mussels are a marine bivalve mollusk. In our country, mussels are often called their freshwater relatives – the toothless mussel and the common pearl barley. These bivalves are active filter feeders and contribute to the biological purification of water bodies. The meat of the toothless and pearl barley is edible; the shells were previously used as raw materials for making mother-of-pearl buttons. Subscribe to the “Evening Moscow” channel on Telegram!

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