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Shaped Pearls?

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  • Shaped Pearls?

    I've been digging through some of the pearl vendors mentioned throughout this forum and ran across a few listings for shaped freshwater pearls, such as flowers, crecent moons, sticks, and crosses.

    I'm a fan of the silly and bizarre, so I find them appealing, but I'm just wondering how they do this. I can't imagine that these are an accident of nature, especially the crosses. There's one that's shaped like a vintage roof anntena that makes me wish my hair was still long so I could slap a few on hairsticks and dress as a house for halloween lol.

    Maybe I'm using the wrong keywords, but I'd love to know how these lines of pearls came about.


  • #2
    Fancy shapes like stars, crosses and the like are not natural, no.

    Along with a bit of donor mantle tissue (from a sacrificed freshwater mussel), a shaped nucleus is inserted into the mantle tissue of the host freshwater mussel. The donor tissue forms a pearl sac that secretes nacre onto the shape, layer upon layer, until the shaped pearl results.


    • #3
      The longer the pearl is left in the mussel, the more nacre gets secreted, and the original shape can get distorted. So, the more perfect the shape, the thinner the nacre.


      • #4
        Thanks so much, ladies! That's very helpful and interesting. Cultured pearls are definitely the crossroads between human ingenuity and natural phenomena.