How Are Pearls Made Naturally


May 9, 2016
How Are Pearls Made Naturally

Natural pearls are pearls that are made without human intervention. Because of the rarity of natural pearls and the shrinking of natural mollusk beds due to pollution, natural pearls are extremely expensive. Most natural pearls on the market today are antique pearls. </p>

Other People Are Reading Process The first step in a pearl's creation is that a foreign object, usually a piece of bone or shell, enters a mussel or an oyster. To make this irritant less irritating, the mollusk secretes nacre. Nacre is a substance the mollusk uses to create its own shell. When you open any mussel or oyster, notice that the inside of the shell is luminescent and resembles the surface of a pearl. Nacre is made of calcium carbonate, which is highly reflective of light. Layers of the nacre build up over the irritant and and eventually the pearl is formed.

Time Natural pearls that develop in the wild can take up to 10 years to grow to 6 mm. This is significantly longer than cultured pearls, which take two to four years to form. In the natural process, the longer a mollusk lives, the higher the chance that it will be carried off in a typhoon or eaten by a predator. This makes large natural pearls incredibly rare.

Quality Natural pearls are more expensive than harvested pearls because in addition to being rare, they are higher in quality. Natural pearls are essentially made up entirely of nacre, while most cultured pearls are "seeded" with a bead. Poor quality cultured pearls may eventually wear down to show the bead underneath.

Rarity Very few mollusks naturally carry pearls. Most mollusks are able to spit out any irritant, and only the irritants that are lodged deep in the mollusk eventually turn into pearls. Because of over-fishing, oil drilling and pollution, natural pearl beds are shrinking and mollusks often die before they can form a pearl.

Color Pearl color can range from white to pink to green and black. Some breeds of oyster and mussels create unique colors, but diet, water temperature, and pollutants in the water are the main factors affecting the final color of the pearl. Black pearls are some of the most sought after pearls and can be found in French Polynesia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Freshwater pearls are made in mussels in rivers, and saltwater pearls are made in oysters in seawater. Saltwater pearls are round and are generally used to make rings, necklaces, or earrings. Freshwater pearls are misshapen and are used to make broaches or necklaces.


Feb 11, 2015
The idea that natural pearls form around a grain of sand or some other bit of debris that washes into the mollusk has been shown not to be true, but the myth persists.

Natural pearls are formed in mollusks that appear to be diseased or attacked by another sea creature. It's true that the mollusk will try to coat an invading creature and that gives a blister pearl. When some of the mantle tissue is dislodged into the body of the mollusk because an invading creature dislodged it, then the mantle tissue will form a pearl sac and a roundish pearl will occur. The invading creature might be outside boring a hole into the mollusk, and dislodges the mantle tissue that way. The creature does not have to actually be inside the mollusk, although that does occur, too.

Many freshwater cultured pearls are made without a bead, but just a piece of mantle tissue from another mollusk. This means that cultured pearls can be all nacre, while a natural pearl might have a core that is calcite or a small sea creature.

Also, there are plenty of natural pearls that are terrible quality. You are actually more likely to see bad quality naturals, just because they are naturals. Most bad quality freshwater pearls are ground up for medicine and beauty products.


Sep 10, 2011
Thanks for visiting the pearls forum Garett. Bweaves is right. Perhaps you should go to PearlGuide and read up. The info is there from pearl experts, those who deal in or collect these special pearls.


Apr 21, 2010
garett - by your signature you appear to be a Trade Member - if this is correct, you need to go to your Profile page and update your info to reflect your Trade status.
Be a part of the community Get 3 HCA Results
    Throwback Thursdays: May 2022
    Throwback Thursdays: May 2022 - 05/26
    Jewelry Gifts for Graduation
    Jewelry Gifts for Graduation - 05/24
    Who Keeps the Ring?
    Who Keeps the Ring? - 05/20