Freshwater pearls are now grown in China’s vast freshwater ponds and lakes. Small, family-owned farms and collectives are the basic norm. But, there are a few bigger “corporate” farms in existence as well.
On each side of its shell, the freshwater pearl mussel may develop up to 25 pearls. As a result, annual pearl harvests are plentiful! Freshwater pearls are “tissue-nucleated” in the vast majority of cases.
A tiny amount of donor mantle tissue is utilized to nucleate the mussel in this way. The mussel is implanted with a small square of tissue, which develops a pearl sac around the irritant. The irritant is gradually covered with layers of nacre, producing a pearl.
The most popular type of pearl jewelry among women is freshwater pearl jewelry. This is owing to its incredible versatility and low cost when compared to other types. But a fine grade freshwater variety with a gorgeous luster is a once-in-a-lifetime. It’s a discovery that might bring considerable sums.
Also Read:- Where Can You Buy Pearl Necklace For Men?
Table of Contents
What are Freshwater Pearls?
Freshwater pearls are produced in bodies of freshwater like lakes, rivers, and man-made ponds. While a minor amount of production originates from Japan’s Lake Biwa and Lake Kasumigaura, as well as Tennessee in the United States, the Pearls you see in bulk in the market today are grown in China.
Freshwater pearls are created in rivers and ponds using mussels, and they may be grown in a single shell. It only takes a fraction of the time to grow saltwater pearls. Freshwater pearls come in a range of colours, but the most popular are white, pink, and pastel tints.
Freshwater pearls are tissue nucleated in general. They are made of nacre and do not include any bead nuclei. Because there is no bead, the mussel seldom produces completely or near-round forms. More than 98 percent of the crop is non-round, such as oval, button, drop, baroque, and other forms.
Freshwater pearls, unlike other pearl types, come in a broad spectrum of hues. White, cream, grey, and pastel tints are the most common colors for these pearls. High-quality freshwater pearls feature pink, green, and blue overtones. But lower-quality gems lack any attractive overtones.
Despite the fact that pearls are fundamentally spherical in form, only around 5% of all pearls are completely round. Near round, button, semi-baroque, and baroque are among the other forms available. Only spherical pearls were always thought to be worthy of being placed in jewelry. But nowadays, many people recognize the beauty of irregularly shaped pearls.
The majority of freshwater pearls are oval or almost round, with around 30% being baroque or semi-baroque. Round freshwater pearls are rare because of the nucleation procedure used by manufacturers. As stated, these pearls are not beaded nucleated, meaning they are more prone to develop under irradiation.
History of Freshwater Pearl
The earliest Chinese freshwater debuted in the 1970s. Initially, the quality was quite low. The gems generated by the cockscomb mussel were shaped like rice grains. With a yellowish color and lesser luster, the industry dubbed them as “rice pearls”.
Chinese farmers began farming the triangular mussel in the mid-1990s. This occurred after switching mussel species. This was the start of a gradual increase in the quality of their pearls. In the late 1990s, researchers and farmers experimented with the Japanese Biwa and its hybrid (dubbed “leisure mussel”). They did it with the triangular mussel, which led to a breakthrough in culture techniques.
They discovered that as the mussels grew larger, they produced higher-quality stones with more vivid colours. It’s worth noting that Biwa pearls are now almost entirely manufactured in China. In the 1990s, Japan’s production nearly halted due to water degradation and overcrowding in Lake Biwa. In the region, just a little amount is produced.
Chinese pearl growers have worked to improve their cultivating techniques. The overall quality of these diamonds has significantly increased. They are bigger, rounder, and have a wonderful sheen and colour. In terms of shine and size, today’s best freshwater pearls can readily compete with the best Akoya and South Sea varieties.
However, these high-quality diamonds account for less than 1% of the total annual output. The majority of the harvest is made up of junk grades that are used in cosmetics and commercial grades that are utilised in low-end jewellery.
Also Read:- What do Pearls Symbolize
Size of Freshwater Pearl
Freshwater pearls have the largest size variation of any pearl kind, ranging from 2.0 mm to 15.0 mm on average. Sizes larger than 10.0 mm, on the other hand, are quite unusual. Freshwater pearls’ development periods differ from farm to farm, which explains why they come in such a broad range of sizes.
What is the difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls?
Cultured pearls are created when a farmer puts a mollusc into an oyster shell. Natural pearls develop without human interference. The mollusc is a creature in the sea that produces natural pearls. The mollusc in cultivated pearls is generally a small bead.
Cultured pearls appear more “organic” than natural pearls. They may not be as well-shaped or spherical as their cultivated pearl cousins, for example. Natural pearls are exceedingly rare, with the majority of them previously collected. As a result, natural pearls are extremely rare and costly, with the majority of them being sold at antique auctions.
When a pearl farmer inserts an irritant into the oyster shell, cultured pearls form in saltwater or freshwater. As with natural pearls, nacre layers develop around the irritant to produce the pearl. Cultured pearls vary from natural pearls in that people are engaged in the process.
Cultured pearls are lovely gemstones that may be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and ponds are all good places to look for freshwater pearls. The majority of them are Chinese. In Australia and Asia, saltwater pearls are cultivated. South Sea pearls, Tahitian pearls, and Akoya pearls are the three primary kinds of saltwater pearls. Freshwater pearls are often more expensive than saltwater pearls.