Pearls naturally form when certain type of irritant gets into the oyster or mussel. The irritant can be a piece of shell, food particle, bacteria or piece of sand. Then this will start the protective process. The nacre that is secreted in layers surrounding the irritant results to a pearl.
When farming pearls from the sea, the first step involves choosing the healthy parent oysters in order for you to breed quality oysters. The qualities of a good oyster include good appearance with a thick shell. It would take two years for the baby oysters to attain its maturity and during this time, they will be placed in holding sea buckets found where fresh water gets into the sea.
After that, the base or nucleus is inserted around where the pearl develops. The base can actually be made from freshwater mussel shell known as pigtoe. The shell is shaped in a round bead form and once tucked into the Akoya oyster, pigtoe will have higher possibility for success due to its similarity.
Then the oysters are normally set on land for less than one hour during the time their shells have been opened. The nucleus is placed into the oyster that is placed back into the sea basket. These baskets will give for mobility to protect it from predators or variations in temperature. The changing temperature can affect the quality of the pearl and it mat cause the oyster to die.
The growth of pearls takes 2 to 4 years through the necre deposits. The time it will take to cultivate depends on the size and quality of the pearl that is desired. Then after that, the pearl is taken from the oyster.
Freshwater mussels that develop pearls grow in freshwater lakes or rivers. Freshwater pearls develop in similar way as those in saltwater. But the nucleus is actually made from mantle tissue. For pearl growth, there can be one or more mantle that can be inserted. Over time, the mantle can disappear and the result is pearl that is mainly nacre.
If you are a big fan of pearls, you should understand that artificial or imitation pearls are made to mimic the appearance of pearls. And these are done in several ways. Be careful when buying pearls and make sure you know how to spot the difference between real and imitated one.