Or I should ask do you know the difference between natural and cultured pearls? Yes they are both formed within the gooey life of an oyster. Though Natural pearls are those pearls that came into being without man's hand or help. The cultured pearl has help to begin the process.
The natural pearl is actually an irritant to the oyster. A piece of sand or small foreign particle that becomes lodged within the oyster. The oyster secrets a substance that covers the object making it smooth. The substance is the stuff of beauty, it is called nacre. The beautiful luster and luminous sheen that we recognize in real pearls.
Cultured pearls are created by taking shell beads placed carefully by human hand inside the live in creature. These implanted oysters are tended to just like crops. They are crops....They are suspended from raft like structures and normally take at least two years to form.
If this lifestyle is rushed the pearls may have bald spots and are what jeweler's refer to as "kissed by the oyster" meaning they didn't spend enough time within.
Freshwater pearls are formed within mussels instead of oysters. They are farmed in freshwater lakes Japan, China and the United States.
The Gulf of Manar on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka is the most important natural pearl fishery in the world. Other parts of the coast of Sri Lanka, the coast of India, the Persian Gulf near the islands of Bahrain, parts of the Red Sea near the Arabian coast, the island groups in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean near Japan and Hawaii, and the northwest coast of Western Australia are known for their pearl beds.
The largest known pearl weighed 454 carats which is about the size of a chicken egg!!!
The pioneers of pearl culturing, however, were the Japanese. At the turn of the century, Tokichi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise (a biologist and a carpenter, respectively) discovered independently the method of inserting beads and bits of oyster mantle to stimulate pearl production. The champion of Japanese pearl "inventors" was Kokichi Mikimoto who, in 1893, began embedding a variety of materials inside oysters to experiment with creating perfect saltwater pearls called shinju. By 1905, this son of a noodle vendor had succeeded, and, in 1908, he was awarded a Japanese patent for the process. Mikimoto's pearl farm had 12 million oysters at its peak and manufactured three-quarters of the world's pearls. Mikimoto lived near the city of Toba, Japan, next to Toba Bay. An island in the bay, now called Mikimoto Pearl Island, is home to monuments to this man who is considered a hero of Japanese industry and a pearl museum.