Pearl Encyclopedia - SelecTraders

Saltwater Pearls - Selectraders

Saltwater pearls form within oysters, which live in the sea, whereas freshwater pearls grow within freshwater molluscs.

In the past most saltwater pearls were found in the Persian gulf, the Red Sea, Indian coastal waters and Japan, before the cultured pearl was invented. Natural pearls are still harvested in the Persian gulf, but the yield is too small to cover the demand. Most of the pearls collected there never leave the area.

Today all saltwater pearls produced are bead-nucleated pearls.They are cultured by opening an oyster’s shell for about 2-3 centimetres. With a special instrument a technician will make a minute incision on the reproductive organ of the oyster.Then a small nucleus is inserted and a tiny piece of mantle tissue will be placed behind it.The mantle tissue’s epithelial cells will produce a pearl sac around the nucleus.The oyster will respond to the irritation by producing nacre, a combination of calcium carbonate and organic substances, which will build up in layers around the pearl sac.

The host oyster is returned to its bed in the ocean, where it will form a pearl over a period of several years. Saltwater pearls are in high demand and more valuable than their freshwater counterparts since they tend to be more lustrous.

To create a pearl necklace (Perlenkette) - the three most common types of saltwater pearls are akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls.