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Scientists Debunk Myth that Pearls come from "Grains of Sand"

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  • Lagoon Island Pearls
    replied
    Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
    3 phases: calcitic, aragonitic and proteinic, and in the calcitic area it had aragonitic "inclusions" (looked a bit like embedded opals). It is the weirdest pearl -natural or cultured- I have ever seen. If Valeria sees this post maybe she can help us by sending the pearl's specs. It may help scientists understand some of the mysteries of biomineralization...
    I've observed similar structures (left side image) in Mytilus c. thanks to our friends in Granada, Spain. Over time, the inclusions overlap like shingles on a roof.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Lagoon Island Pearls; 06-14-2011, 12:32 AM.

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  • Lagoon Island Pearls
    replied
    Those colors...

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  • CortezPearls
    replied
    Originally posted by Lagoon Island Pearls View Post
    [ATTACH]12708[/ATTACH]

    Here's a picture supporting Doug's position on parasites.

    Again, these are what I loosely refer to as "double pearls". First formed as singles, then concreted together.

    Definitely a treat to find 30 pearls in one mussel.
    Just today I found a Pteria sterna pearl oyster with 121 small (0.9 to 3.5 mm) natural pearls...all of them embedded in the mantle. The shell of the oyster had extensive damage caused by drill-mussels. The photos...follow:

    Click image for larger version

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  • CortezPearls
    replied
    Exactly! Something really weird happened in that pearl sac.

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  • Lagoon Island Pearls
    replied
    Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
    what really was amazing of the pearl is that it had 3 phases: calcitic, aragonitic and proteinic, and in the calcitic area it had aragonitic "inclusions" (looked a bit like embedded opals). It is the weirdest pearl -natural or cultured- I have ever seen.
    Half nacreous, half foliated... that is wierd. It's as though the cells morphed into a different structure as the sac developed.

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  • CortezPearls
    replied
    Oh My God! Those mussels look delicious!!! I will have to try your recipe Dave!

    Can't really remember the pearl's specs, but what really was amazing of the pearl is that it had 3 phases: calcitic, aragonitic and proteinic, and in the calcitic area it had aragonitic "inclusions" (looked a bit like embedded opals). It is the weirdest pearl -natural or cultured- I have ever seen. If Valeria sees this post maybe she can help us by sending the pearl's specs. It may help scientists understand some of the mysteries of biomineralization...

    Leave a comment:


  • Lagoon Island Pearls
    replied
    Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
    In case you haven't seen it...
    Beautiful pearl Doug! How many mm or carats is that?

    Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
    ...and it looks quite tasty!!!
    Okay, you made me post food again!

    These are juvenile mussels (2-3 inches) marinated in balsamic vinegar, double virgin olive oil, cilantro, onions and garlic.

    Sometimes I shake mussels in ground Cheese Ritz and shallow fry them in light oil.
    Attached Files

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  • CortezPearls
    replied
    Great Photo of the Mussel pearls...and it looks quite tasty!!! We've also found "rosaries" of pearls in the mantle just like Dave's, and they do fuse together and form "grape" clusters. Unfortunately, this year's natural pearl harvest was very small and not that interesting...except for the natural pearl we sent to Granada, Spain, for analysis...a unique specimen. Hope our friends in Spain will be able to find some interesting information from it.

    In case you haven't seen it...Click image for larger version

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  • Caitlin
    replied
    Originally posted by Lagoon Island Pearls View Post
    [ATTACH]12708[/ATTACH]

    Here's a picture supporting Doug's position on parasites.

    Again, these are what I loosely refer to as "double pearls". First formed as singles, then concreted together.

    Definitely a treat to find 30 pearls in one mussel.
    That mussel has teeth!

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  • Lagoon Island Pearls
    replied
    Click image for larger version

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    Here's a picture supporting Doug's position on parasites.

    Again, these are what I loosely refer to as "double pearls". First formed as singles, then concreted together.

    Definitely a treat to find 30 pearls in one mussel.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lagoon Island Pearls
    replied
    Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
    ...our information is based on our hands-on knowledge of these creatures.
    Well said Doug. There is no substitute for working field experience.

    In all my years of cutting, cracking and peeling natural pearls, I have yet to find a grain of sand in a loose natural pearl.

    However, I have found multiple examples of sand concreted in repaired shells. It stands to reason, when shells are damaged, there is an uptake of sand, shell and seawater into the extrapallial space. Even these cases, sand was not the determining factor in triggering the mollusk's response to repair it's shell.

    I can't say never, but can say with absolute certainty, that pearls formed around a grain of sand are exceedingly rare.

    Shell growth, repairs and pearls are mantle functions at a pallial level, where cells thrive, multiply and divide. Sand is inert and does little to cause cellular "irritation" as the myth suggests. Even bits of shell or highly polished shell bead nuclei are inert, without an additional factor (ie) graft tissue or parasite.

    The word irritation, is itself irritating. To me irritation suggests infection, inflamation, and nerve involvement. In pearl culture, success and survival can be increased by reducing these effects on the animal.

    It's quite astounding even in this day and age, to hear otherwise well educated people rattle off this myth as fact.

    I really doubt Mikimoto coined this myth, but he certainly did well to perpetuate it. It has probably been assumed for centuries that sand gives rise to pearl formation. Japan has left no stone unturned in their efforts to conceal the secrets of the graft. I think it was convenient to be misleading.

    Being the junior farmer on the planet, I should probably put my money where my mouth is. Here's what I propose:

    If anyone wants to help out, I'm willing to put my entire library of naturals ( some 2000 pieces) under X-ray analysis. Those with questionable nuclei can be cut or peeled to reveal what is inside. I don't have unfettered access to SEM, but I do have the capabilty of determining the composition of objects (in this case nuclei) through polarography.

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  • Caitlin
    replied
    It is time to debunk Mikimoto's position on that, regardless of the respect he deserves for his high quality cultured pearls.He had no idea that repeating something he heard would set off a world wide myth! And not the myth he wanted to "cultivate", either!

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  • smetzler
    replied
    Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
    In this sense, these pearly-myths are like a form of religion: someone stated something (like the "grain of sand" myth) and it is taken like church-creed or dogma and everyone just turns it into a belief and a ritual, when it was just "an uninformed guess". At least, that is what I believe might have happened.
    And it seems that person was K. Mikimoto, a bit careless in his desire to produce a popular book on the subject, perhaps.

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  • CortezPearls
    replied
    I don't consider myself to be the last word or anything close. But, being Biologists we have always wondered at Life's amazing strategies, patterns, shapes, etc. Life is simply MAGNIFICENT. But we are also Engineers and we wonder and tinker: how does the animal do that? Can we fool it? Can we make it do our will?

    Your knowledge is incomplete unless you actually try things out yourself, and the Scientific Method is great because you observe, try to replicate, obtain results...and you do it again and again until you obtain true knowledge, or you don't get anything (might happen).
    In this sense, these pearly-myths are like a form of religion: someone stated something (like the "grain of sand" myth) and it is taken like church-creed or dogma and everyone just turns it into a belief and a ritual, when it was just "an uninformed guess". At least, that is what I believe might have happened.

    I don't consider actual "Pearl Authorities" to be wrong, but our information is based on our hands-on knowledge of these creatures.

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  • pattye
    replied
    Gets right down to the nitty-gritty, doesn't it??!! I have learned so much from everyone participating in this discussion! Thank you!!

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