Pearls appear inside seashells of specific two-shelled mollusk, like the oyster. Before the beginning of the 20th century, pearl diving was the most common way of harvesting pearls. Divers would collect oysters from the very depths of the sea by hand. Each of those would then be searched for pearls, as not every wild oyster produces them. In fact, of approximately three tons only three or four individuals produce perfect pearls.
Today, nearly all pears that are used in the jewelry trade are bread. This is achieved by placing a small pip into the seashell. As a reaction to the foreign body, the mollusk surrounds the pip with layers of calcium carbonate and natural, callus like conchiolin. This material compound is called nacre or, the more commonly mother-of-pearl.
French-Polynesia, the home of the world famous Tahiti Pearl
After inserting the pip the pearls are being raised for approximately three years, but it may also take up to six until a pears is being produced. Pearls are sorted in two categories: Fresh and saltwater pearls. As the name suggests, freshwaters pearls are made by freshwater shells, which live in lakes, rivers, ponds, and other freshwater accumulations. Today, most freshwater pearls come from China. In contrast to that, most saltwater pearls are made by oysters, which live in the ocean, mostly in natural reserves. Akoya, South Sea and Tahiti are the three main categories of saltwater pearls.