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Valued as a gemstone and an object of beauty, "pearl" has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, and valuable, and synonymous with the word elegance.
The ideal pearl is round and smooth, however, pearls come in many shapes. A natural or "wild pearl," formed without human intervention is very rare. For many years, finding and opening (and thus killing) hundreds of mollusks just to find one wild pearl was the only way they were gathered. Now with the ability to "farm" pearls, cultured pearls (pearls made by nature with human intervention) make up the majority of pearls available on the market.
What is it?
Natural pearls are 100% calcium carbonate and conchiolin. Viewed by scientists as a by-product of an immune system-like function, pearls are produced when microscopic irritants become trapped in the mollusk's mantle folds. The mollusk produces a sac to seal off the irritation and secretes the calcium carbonate and conchiolin to cover the irritant.
Saltwater & Freshwater Pearls.