Are There Really Pearls in Oysters?
by: Rifko Meier
We have all heard that oysters have pearls. But have you ever seen an oyster with a pearl inside? If you have, consider yourself lucky! To find a pearl in a wild oyster you would have to crack in to hundreds of oysters (not that this is necessarily a hard job…) as pearls are a very rare discovery. A natural wild pearl in an oyster may also be very small as it takes years for an oyster to grow a large, jewelery quality pearl. So yes, there are pearls in oysters!
Pearl Oyster Vs Edible Oyster
Pearl oysters belong to the pinctada family while the oysters we eat are part of the ostreidae family. Pinctada oysters are found deep in the ocean while the tasty oysters we like to eat are typically found on the shore. Both oysters? Yes. But very different. Aren’t all families different?!?
The Brief Science
Oysters have an internal organ called a mantle which processes minerals in the oyster’s food in order to create nacre which makes up the oyster’s shell. If a foreign substance, like a grain of sand, gets stuck in the oyster’s mantle, the oyster will cover the irritant with a layer of nacre. Then it will add another layer and another layer until it gets so thick that it creates a pearl. So cool!
Oyster pearl farms exist throughout the world and if you own a pearl necklace or bracelet, chances are the pearls came from one of these farms. That doesn’t mean cultivated pearls are any less amazing though- that pearl was still grown inside and oyster! Nature is amazing.
Science Becomes Romance
While oyster pearls are beautiful on their own, they also have a delightful significance. The idea that an irritant can be turned into a precious gem is the story which has made oyster pearls timeless. If there is an annoyance or a bother in your life such as the grain of sand in an oyster, simply coat it in a layer of love. Add another layer of patience and another layer of acceptance and continue on until that which annoys you becomes something beautiful.