freshwater cultured pearls
What are freshwater cultured pearls?
The freshwater pearls they are pearls that grow in non-saline environments in freshwater mussels.
In Spain they are sometimes erroneously known as river pearls.
They are the most popular pearls today. Their unique shapes and wide range of colors, combined with their attractive prices, have made them a favorite among designers, customers and pearl enthusiasts.
Colors, sizes and shapes
In addition to the traditional white colour, these pearls are created in a wide range of natural colours, from salmon, to deep pink and purple and lately some exclusive multi-coloured pearls with an incredible metallic sheen.
Their size ranges from tiny pearls of 1 or 2 mm to some of more than 15 mm.
How is a freshwater pearl grown?
At fresh water mussels A small incision is made in the fleshy mantle tissue of a 6- to 12-month-old mussel, then a core is included by inserting a 3-mm square piece of donor mussel mantle tissue. Upon insertion, the donor tissue is slightly twisted, rounding the edges. What happens after this point is really just speculation.
It is common industry practice to make 12-16 insertions into any two mussel valves, for a total production of 24-32 pearls. The mollusks are returned to their freshwater environment where they are cared for from 2 to 6 years. After this period, the pearls can be extracted from the mussels.
Where do freshwater cultured pearls come from?
Although the traditional source of pearls has been saltwater oysters, fresh water mussels -which live in ponds, lakes and rivers- can also produce pearls.
In 1914, Japanese pearl farmers began farming freshwater pearls using mussels native to Lake Biwa. This lake, the largest and oldest in Japan, is located near the city of Kyoto.
Pollution has caused a virtual extinction of this part of the pearl industry in Lake Biwa.
They tried it one more time by creating a hybrid pearl mussel—a cross between the Biwa mussel and a closely related species native to China, Hyriopsis Cumingi—in Lake Kasumigaura. Pearl farming in Lake Kasumigaura also fell victim to pollution, so the Japanese began producing cultured pearls from freshwater mussels in the Shanghai region. Since then, China has become the world's largest producer of freshwater pearls.