Topic – Pearls

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You sometimes see pearls on rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Did you ever wonder where pearls come from? There are two different kinds of pearls.

Saltwater Pearls

Saltwater pearls are formed inside oysters that live in oceans. Oceans have salty water, so pearls from the ocean are called saltwater pearls.

Oysters have a shell that opens up like a mouth. Once in a while, a tiny object such as a piece of sand gets inside an oyster. The oyster makes something called nacre (say it like this: nay-ker). Nacre is smooth and is usually white. Layers of smooth nacre build up around the object. A pearl is a tiny object that is covered by many layers of nacre.

Freshwater Pearls

Mussels are another underwater animal with a shell that opens. Mussels live in lakes and rivers. The water in lakes and rivers is not salty, so it is called fresh water. Pearls that form in mussels are called freshwater pearls. Mussels make pearls in the same way that oysters do.

Pearls Are Rare

It does not often happen that an object gets inside an oyster or mussel and is turned into a pearl. People have to look in many oysters or mussels to find just one with a pearl inside. Pearls are expensive because they are rare. Imagine how many oysters or mussels people have to check to find enough pearls to make a whole necklace of pearls!

Fact File: Pearls are not always round and not always white. They come in different shapes and colours.

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