There are three basic types of Pearls: natural, cultured and imitation. A natural pearl (often referred to as an Oriental Pearl) forms when an irritant, such as a piece of sand, works its way into a particular species of oyster, mussel or clam. As a defense mechanism, the mollusc then secretes a fluid to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating is deposited upon the irritant until a lustrous pearl is formed. A cultured pearl virtually undergoes the same process. The only difference is that the irritant is a surgically implanted bead or piece of shell called Mother of Pearl.
Pearls can be created from either salt or fresh water. Typically, saltwater Pearls tend to be of higher quality. Freshwater Pearls are often irregular in shape, with a puffed rice appearance being the most prevalent. Nevertheless, it is each individual pearl’s merits which determine its value, rather than the source of the Pearl.
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