How Do Oysters Make Pearls?

About 4,000 years ago, a Chinese fisherman who decided that oysters might satisfy his hunger opened a few and was probably the first man to discover pearls!

Pearls are made of the same material as the mother-of pearls! Pearl are made of the same material as the mother-of-pearl lining to provide a smooth surface against its body.

When an irritating object, such as a grain of sand manages to get inside the oyster’s coats it with layer after layer of mother-of-pearls and this becomes a pearl!


When this happens naturally, the pearl may be perfectly shaped. But man has found a way to help the oyster along in the making of pearls. A bit of sand or a tiny piece of mother-of-pearl is inserted between the shell and the outer skin off the oyster.

After two or three years, when these shells are taken from the water and opened, a pearl is found inside. These are called “cultured” pearls, and are not usually perfectly shaped.

In japan, they have now learned how to make perfect cultured pearls. The irritating material is put right into the body of the oyster. This is really a surgical operation requiring great care and delicacy, because the oyster must be kept alive.

The largest pearl  found is said to have been 5 centimeters long and centimeters round. Because pearls are expensive, most of us buy artificial pearls.

The french make beautiful artificial pearls by taking hollow glass beads. Lining them with a substance that comes from the shiny scales of certain fish, and the filling the beads with wax.    

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