Information on the History and Process of Freshwater Pearls Farming

The quick facts on Freshwater Pearls include the common name for the mussel which is“Triangle Shell” with the scientific name of Hyriopsis Cuingi. Average size range is 3mm to 10mm, and the growth time is 2 to 6 years.


In the wild of Scotland

Pearls harvested in the wild were vital sources for pearls used in medieval jewelry and Scotland was a major source; this species is now endangered in most areas.

Japanese industry

Actually the Japanese fresh water pearl industry has almost ceased to be, but it has a place in history as the country to first cultivate freshwater pearls, which was done in Lake Biwa and using the Biwa pearl mussel. The industry tried to comeback with a hybrid mussel in Lake Kasumigaura in the last 10 years, but this attempt met with failure, and ceased production in 2006. The pearl farm in Tennessee also holds historic value since it is the only freshwater pearl farm outside of Asia. It is now a tourist attraction.

China is currently only commercial farms

Today China is the only commercial farmer of freshwater pearls, producing in 2005 1500 tons and using the mussel known asTriangle Shell and numerousmixtures that have several mussel species.

Grafting process

The process of grafting starts first by picking a mussel as a donor and cut a tissue strip from the mantle. This tissue then is cut in squares of 3mm. The squares are given to a technician for the operation. It is not like nucleation of a saltwater bead with this process not beingdifficult and the technicians need just a small amount of training to perform the process. The technician creates tiny incisions on the upper and lower valve and inserts this tissue. They do this with a tiny twist when inserted as it is through this will make for a high ratio of round pearls. After the max amounts of grafts are done the mussel is done once again on the other valve of the shell.

Harvests still in the shell

Freshwater pearl harvests are normally sold wholesale while staying in the shell. After the harvest, the pearls are delivered to a 1st stage factory where it does the cleaning as well as sorting of shape and size. When this process has been completed, the pearls are considered ready for the process factories. The pearls are first pre-treated in a cold and warm chemical solution and they are then bleached.

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