Definition of Saltwater Pearls
Saltwater pearls are the pearls produced by the saltwater molluscs in saline environment. Mostly all the famous and valuable varieties of pearls comes under this category, for example: Akoya Pearls, Tahitian Pearls, South Sea Pearls.
Saltwater Pearl Oyster Beds
Most pearls were gathered from saltwater-dwelling mollusks in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the coastal waters of India and Japan. If we talk about the most famous saltwater pearls like akoya pearls, they are harvested in coastal areas of Japan and Vietnam. China was also one of the biggest producer of akoya pearls. But in 2007 massive natural disaster destroyed their akoya pearl farms.
Most Tahitian pearl farms are located on one of five archipelagos in the area called, Tuamotu-Gambier Archipelago. Tahitian pearl farms are also present in beyond French Polynesia to the west into the Micronesian islands. Australia, the Seychelles and Vietnam.
South sea pearls are cultured in areas throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans. Primary producers of south sea pearls are Australia, Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Natural saltwater pearls are still found, but the yield is too small to amount to significant market share.
Shape and Size of Saltwater Pearls
Size of saltwater pearls is bigger than the freshwater pearls because the size of oyster is also large as compared to freshwater oysters. The shape of saltwater cultured pearls tend to be more round than the freshwater pearls. This is due to the fact that saltwater mollusks are universally bead-nucleated.
Saltwater Pearl Farming
Saltwater pearls are cultured by prying open the mollusk 2-3 centimeters. A technician then uses a special instrument to make a tiny incision on the gonad (reproductive organ) of the mollusk. A small bead nucleus is inserted into this hole, followed by a tiny piece of mantle tissue, which is then placed behind it. The epithelial cells in this mantle tissue begin to multiply, growing around the nucleus producing a pearl sac. This is where the pearl grows. This process is the same for all saltwater pearls cultured with a bead nucleus today.