Lifestyle May 12, 2016

Oysters & Pearls

Pearl oyster in a beach

The theme of the week has been everything unique and luxurious.  We couldn’t think of anything more unique and luxurious than oysters and pearls.  There’s a reason there are so many faux pearls around the world…because they’re so luxe!  The way in which pearls are formed by oysters themselves is quite amazing.

The beginning stages of a pearl developing within an oyster start from an irritation getting inside the oyster, it can be something as small as a grain of sand that gets trapped.  When it gets inside the shell of the oyster, the oyster naturally starts to develop a protective coating called nacre (also referred to as mother-of-pearl).  The oyster develops layers of this protective coating which eventually forms the pearl.  With some oysters, an irritant doesn’t need to be trapped, but instead the process of pearl formation starts from the inside of the oyster getting a cut.  While it sounds like it’s a quick process, the oysters typically take at least 6 months to develop (sometimes it can take years).  Wow, right?!  Talk about a process!

The process of pearls being farmed out and collected is just as timely and requires immense patience from the farmers.  Farmers have to open the shell to each oyster and carefully examine each pearl to check its quality levels.  Experts have said that most oysters will only produce one pearl over their lifetime, however, some can produce up to 2 to 3.

Considering the long process it takes to grow and farm a pearl from an oyster, it’s no wonder they’re a highly sought after item.  Not to mention, they’re stunning!  There are all sorts of different types of pearls from freshwater oysters and pearls to Tahitian oysters and pearls.  Additionally, because of their rare nature pearls are typically quite expensive – especially pearl jewelry.  But their rareness definitely makes for unique jewelry pieces!

Now people have begun creating ‘farmed’ pearls, which are created in a very similar way as they are naturally.  But they’re kind of pushed into the process a tad.  While naturally oysters develop an irritant or obtain a cut before they begin the process of developing a pearl, the farmed version is done in a way where the oysters are given a cut or irritant by the farmers/harvesters.  While many articles state that the farmed pearls and naturally developed pearls are considered to be of the same quality, often the farmed versions tend to be less expensive than the natural versions.

There’s a certain level of mystery when it comes to pearls because of the fact that they’re produced by a living organism in the ocean.  Unveiling how pearls are actually developed is really something, and really speaks to why pearls and oysters are looked at as such a luxurious, unique item.  It sure helps us to better understand why pearls tend to be on the more expensive side – all the time and work that goes into it.

What surprises you most about the process an oyster goes through in order to develop a pearl?

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