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Article: Cultured freshwater pearls

Cultured freshwater pearls

Current and historic industry

  • Pearls gathered in the wild from the Holarctic saltwater.
  • Scotland was a major source of pearls for modern jewelry.
  • The pearl mussel, a source of pearls, is now endangered in most areas.
  • Japan was the first country to cultivate whole freshwater pearls in Lake Biwa.
  • The Japanese freshwater pearl industry has nearly ceased to exist.


  • The grafting process involves choosing a suitable donor mussel.
  • A strip of tissue is cut from the mantle and divided into small squares.
  • Technicians perform the grafting operation by making incisions and inserting the tissue.
  • Chinese freshwater mussels were once grafted up to 50 times per shell.
  • The triangle shell mussel produced better quality pearls with fewer grafts.


  • Freshwater pearl harvests are bought while still in the shell.
  • Pearls are cleaned and sorted by size and shape in the first-stage factory.
  • Pre-treatment involves using warm and cold chemical solutions and bleaching.
  • Pearls with strong coloration skip bleaching or dyeing.
  • After treatment, pearls are drilled, polished, and matched into temporary strands and hanks.

Related Topics

  • Cultured pearl.
  • Fishing industry in China.
  • Agriculture in China.
  • Medieval Goldsmiths by John Cherry.
  • Aquaculture in China - Freshwater Pearl Culture.


  • Pearl Grading provides information on cultured freshwater pearls.
  • Medieval Goldsmiths by John Cherry discusses pearls.
  • World Aquaculture Society has abstract data on freshwater pearl culture.
  • Aquaculture in China - Freshwater Pearl Culture provides information on the industry.
  • Retrieved from

Cultured freshwater pearls Data Sources

Reference URL
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