Stones by zodiac signs

Is it possible to find pearls in a river shell?

How does pearl mining work? Pearl producing countries Interesting facts about mining More than 95% of all pearls on the market are a product of cultivation, that is, artificial cultivation. But these pearls are natural and are formed in the shell of a pearl-bearing mollusk, not inferior in beauty and quality to natural ones.

How does pearl mining work?

This is not to say that pearls are not mined in the traditional way, but their market share is insignificant, and jewelry is quite expensive. For example, in Bahrain and off the coast of Japan, pearls were mined hundreds of years ago and are still mined today. Pearls can be either saltwater or freshwater, the latter being mined in rivers and lakes.

Extraction methods

The process of extraction itself, both in the case of cultured pearls and in the case of natural (wild) pearls, looks the same: pearl oysters are raised to the surface and the precious core is extracted from them. After this, the pearls are immediately ready for sale in bulk or for making jewelry – they do not require processing. Divers do the fishing. For example, in our time, about a thousand ama divers live on the pearl island of Mikimoto, near the Japanese city of Toba. They can descend to a depth of 10 meters and remain under water for 1–2 minutes. But there are also those who work near the shore. In the diving profession, there are restrictions on the quantity and season of catch (April – November), and there is a ban on catching juveniles. Ama must be registered with a fishing cooperative and have a boat license. The harvest takes a long time and painstakingly – not every shell will contain pearls. Therefore, the cost of finds is much higher than that of cultivation products. They came to cultivation in the middle of the XNUMXth century, when fishing was universally prohibited due to a decline in the oyster population and the deterioration of the ecology of the regions as a result of human activity. In a number of Asian countries and not only there are cultivation farms.

Cultivation stages

  1. In nuclear farming, a mature oyster is taken and usually one mother-of-pearl kernel is inserted into it by hand along with a fragment of the mantle of another mollusk. The nuclear-free method involves implanting only a piece of the mantle of another mollusk into the mother shell. Moreover, the number of seeds can reach up to thirty.
  2. After replanting, the pearl mussel is returned to the reservoir. The process of forming a pearl takes from several months to several years.
  3. Once the formation process is complete, the pearl is removed and used for jewelry production.

The maximum number of cultivation cycles for one oyster is three.

Pearl producing countries

Asian countries remain leaders in the field of cultivation: Japan, China, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam. The pearl farms of Australia, the Persian Gulf countries, and French Polynesia are famous for their products.

How to find pearls in natural conditions? The few finds are accidental. Thus, in a number of rivers of the Arkhangelsk region, where the common pearl mussel previously lived, no populations have been found at present. They survived only in the basins of the Solza and Onega rivers.

The European pearl mussel is preserved in the rivers of the Murmansk region and Karelia. But now pearl-bearing mollusks are only being studied and protected; mass fishing is not carried out.

Interesting facts about mining

Finally, we have prepared a selection of facts related to the mining and discovery of the mineraloid.

1. There are known cases of death that occurred during pearl fishing. For example, in 1937 in the Philippines, a diver came across a huge mollusk, but, having opened the shell, he was captured by it and could not get out. When the diver was discovered a day later and raised to the surface along with the shell, it contained a 6-kilogram pearl (the pearl of Allah).

2. In Bahrain, tourists are offered dives to search for pearl mollusks, accompanied by a guide. Searching for and catching pearl mussels on your own is prohibited.

3. Pearl farm workers’ main concerns are red tides, harmful algal blooms, and temperature changes because farmed oysters could die.

4. Pearls and pearl jewelry purchased in other countries are subject to declaration when imported into Russia.

5. In 2019, an elderly resident of the American city of Portland, having purchased oysters from a local merchant, discovered a pearl in one of them during a home lunch. Finds like this are extremely rare.

6. A rare success for divers is to get Abalone, Melo and Conch pearls.

7. The largest gem-quality pearl is considered to be the Peregrina, caught in the mid-55,95th century, weighing XNUMX carats. One of the owners was Elizabeth Taylor.

The sophistication and nobility of pearls delight even those who are indifferent to precious stones. These are special treasures that are even born in a special way – they are not mined from the bowels of the earth.

Do you think pearls are distant relatives of diamonds? Yes, they are also magnificent, but there are no more similarities – both in composition and in the method of formation. They are more like living organisms than stones – they are also born, live for about 150 years, and then die out..

The birth of a pearl is akin to a small miracle, the embodiment of the boundless power and beauty of nature. And to be absolutely precise, mollusks living in shells. In their shelter, they secrete a special substance – from it a pearl is formed, a treasure for divers.

Natural purpose of pearls

Not every shell contains the coveted stones: they are formed only if foreign particles get inside: small mollusks, grains of sand or air bubbles. Because of them, the delicate oyster is damaged. BUT! Nature seeks to protect it: a protective shell is created around foreign bodies – pearls.

Liquid secreted by the mollusk grows on the trapped particles, one layer after another. Roughness and sharp corners are smoothed out without any chance of harming the mollusk.

The larger the bead, the more time it takes to mature. The substance from which it is formed is called nacre – “the mother of pearls”.

The composition of mother-of-pearl includes calcium carbonate (aragonite, 86%), proteins (conchiolin, 12%) and 2% water.

How are pearls formed in a shell?

The first layer of aragonite forms around the foreign particle, which is covered with another hundred similar layers. The void between the calcium carbonate crystals is filled with proteins, thanks to which the shell becomes especially strong.

Only aragonite is present in the top layer – with it the pearl acquires a pearlescent luster.

Pearls are born in shells – sea and river. And these are different types of stones – each has its own composition and appearance. If you are lucky, in the sea you will find a shell with one (and no more) large pearls. If you pull a shell out of the sea, you can expect a few smaller stones in the shell.

The differences primarily affect cost and use in jewelry. It is rare to see items containing saltwater pearls, and their price reflects their exclusivity.

The third type of pearl is artificial: people are no longer just exploring the depths in search of pearls, they have studied technology and learned how to grow them in greenhouse conditions.

What determines the appearance of pearls?

What will the pearl be like in its shape, color and size? This is influenced by a lot of factors.

Small pearls live in rivers and other small bodies of water, and larger ones live at the bottom of the sea. If a mineral grows on the body of a mollusk and does not touch the inner walls of the shell, it is most similar to a ball. Moreover, it can form on the sink and resemble a growth.

The diameter of the smallest pearls reaches 0,2 – 0,25 cm, the largest – more than 0,8 cm. Rarely, but in nature, stones 1 cm wide are still found. The most impressive find can be seen in the London Museum: its weight is 85 grams , and the girth is 4,5 cm.

Jewelry stores offer pearls in a variety of colors – for example, white, pink, silver, blue, black and even burgundy.

The most expensive are blue gems, which are mined in the Indonesian depths. Dark pearls are mined in the Caribbean, golden pearls in Panama, white pearls in Australia, and pink pearls in Japan and India.

Wild pearls

The fruits of nature’s labor occupy a small part of the market. Extracting them is difficult and harmful to the ecology of the underwater world. However, many treasure connoisseurs are uncompromising – they do not agree with artificial stones, even if they are masterfully grown.

In search of precious specimens, you need to check a huge number of shells: in only 1 out of 10 you can find a mineral with suitable dimensions to be used in jewelry. However, fans of unusual jewelry often like stones with a non-standard shape. Fortunately, their variety is impressive – they can be not only oval, but also of all sorts of fancy shapes. Mother-of-pearl shimmers mesmerizingly on the curves, and some stones seem to be surrounded by rings.

Varieties of natural pearls with irregular shape:

  • Keshi petal-shaped.
  • Biwa resembles a mother-of-pearl stick.

Matte pearls look very impressive: this anomaly is associated with the absence of mother-of-pearl particles and costs fabulous money. This is an absolute exclusive, and it is unlikely that you will find the same decoration on anyone on Earth.

Is it possible to tame pearls?

The greatest demand for jewelry with pearls is pushing jewelers to artificially grow gems. A foreign particle is specially placed in the shell – as a rule, it is a polished piece of the pearl itself. After which the shell is lowered into the pond, where optimal conditions for incubation are created.

Cultured pearls are the same as natural stones. With the help of well-established production, it is possible to obtain minerals with certain parameters. Various types of bivalve mollusks are cultivated on special plantations.

Nuclear method of pearl cultivation

A seed is placed into the oyster – a small sphere taken from a freshwater pearl mussel.

This method is quite expensive, as there is a risk of seed rejection. If a foreign body “takes root” in the shell, organic and mineral layers are alternately layered on it. This way you can get a perfectly round pearl or a stone that is as close in shape as possible.

If the seed is large, the pearl turns out to be large, but it cannot be called natural. Almost all Chinese gems larger than 8 mm are produced using this method. They are quite affordable, but after 3 to 5 years they are destroyed. All that remains is the original seed.

There are hundreds of mineral farms in Thailand, China and Malaysia. So a shell with a pearl is considered a wonderful souvenir here.

Nuclear-free cultivation method

It is actively used on freshwater farms. The smallest grains of sand are used as seeds, and after a few years pearls are born from them. The result is small stones that are practically indistinguishable from natural ones.

Pearls were first cultivated in China – this happened a couple of centuries ago. To this day, the Celestial Empire, like Japan, is considered the leader of the “pearl market”. Over several centuries, biologists have learned to grow different types of pearls:


The pearls get their name from the oysters from which they are grown. Sea pearls from Japan and China are the most common type with a classic shape and color. Its dimensions are no more than 0,8 cm, and the light inside is refracted in an amazing way, creating a magical glow.

Golden pearls

It is cultivated in the seas of Indonesia and Australia, as well as in the Philippines and Myanmar. It has noticeable differences from oriental gems: its diameter is up to 1 cm, and the top pearlescent layer is so dense that the shine looks muted.

Black Pearl

Its homeland is Tahiti, but today the production of this unique stone is widespread in many parts of the world. These are royal pearls, which can have different sizes – from 0,8 to 1,8 cm – and are very expensive.

The color range is extremely diverse: from silver to black, with blue, purple or green tints.

White pearls

Born in silver-lipped oysters, it is found in Indonesia, Australia and the Philippine Islands. Its diameter can be 2 cm.

Silver-lipped oysters are extremely capricious, and not everyone can tame them. So the stones turn out to be expensive and exclusive.

The shape of the mineral depends on where exactly the foreign body is introduced:

These gems are real value. They appear in the very heart of the shell – clearly in the center.

Just as valuable and widely used in jewelry as round gems;

Due to contact with the walls of the shell, the pearls are flattened and resemble grains of rice.

Stones with an ideal shape for making pendants, earrings and pendants.

An interesting stone with an abstract shape. There are such specimens that are valued even more expensive than round ones.

In this case, the shape resembles a round one, but there is no symmetry.

Merchants determined how ideal a spherical stone was even without special equipment. They rolled the gem along the surface at an angle. Those samples that rolled “just right” were called “rolled pearls.”

Cultured pearls

Artificial stones are not born in oysters, but the hands of an experienced jeweler and modern technology can work wonders. And today they are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from natural ones.

There is historical evidence that imitation pearls existed back in the Middle Ages – then they were created from fish scales. But today, technology is such that imitation stones (if they are of high quality, of course) almost keep up with natural ones.

In Chinese street markets you can watch the cultivation of artificial pearls. Gullible tourists often buy them, considering them natural, so you should be more careful.

The most common types of artificial minerals:


The base of the stone is glass or plastic, with an artificial mother-of-pearl coating on top. Due to the unique method of surface treatment, these pearls are difficult to distinguish from cultured ones.


At the base of the stone is real mother of pearl, taken from the inner lining of the shells. The surface of the stone is treated with varnish and polyamide, due to which the pearls acquire even greater shine.

French stones

The wax fills the glass ball from the inside, which becomes like a pearl.


The same as the French ones, only with the addition of pearl dust on the glass of the sphere.

How to choose a suitable stone?

How to navigate thousands of offers on the market and purchase a product of appropriate quality? Arm yourself with advice from experts and jewelers!

What criteria are decisive when choosing a stone?

The color can indicate the country of origin;

The more mother of pearl, the brighter the stone.

Its choice is influenced by your taste, but there is also a traditional shape – perfectly round;

The most valuable minerals are those that are completely devoid of roughness;

The size of the stone is directly proportional to its value.

Pearls, known for centuries, have not lost their charm. Its unique copies are sold for fabulous sums. The price is not even affected by the fact that pearls live for about 150 years and then die, turning into dust. And, perhaps, it is not so important whether pearls are grown by nature or man, or created artificially – the main thing is that they inspire you and become a reliable talisman for you.

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