For the Love of Pearls ~ Funky Diva Accessories ~ Blogger on the Rise! ~ Article #6
What is the difference between a natural and a cultured pearl? They both form under similar conditions with the only true distinction being that man has stepped in and "jump started" the process by systematically introducing an irritant into the mollusk, thus stimulating the mollusk to begin creating a pearl.
Once introduced to the oyster or mussel, the process of coating around the intruder begins with the secretion of nacre (NAY-kur) from special cells that exist in the mantle of the oyster or mussel. Japan was the mainstay of cultured pearls for many decades, but China has since eclipsed Japan and is now regarded as one of the world's largest producers of both saltwater and freshwater pearls. Not to be ignored are the South Sea and Tahitian pearls which also play a major role in the pearl market because of their size and exciting range of colors.