Let’s say I want to grow a pearl. I know they’re made in oysters and I know its a process by which an irritant is coated with some secretions inside the oyster, gradually growing into a big round and hopefully expensive mineral.
Would any oyster work? If I were to get a live one from the market, could I get a batch of pearls that way? How long will it take? What kind of environment do I have to give the oysters?
Actually, that can be fun as well. My gf has a pear tree. We keep meaning to place some bottles over the blossoms/small fruits so that we can have a pear-in-a-bottle. Keep missing the window of opportunity .
I’m currently reading “Jewels: A Secrety History” by Victoria Findlay, and there is a chapter on pearls and cultivated pearls. It’s not as easy as it looks, especially in today’s less-than-pristine seawater. Oysters are pretty sensitive to pollution (being filter-feeders) and sicken and die fairly quickly if the harbor/bay/inlet where they’re farmed is too polluted. If they can’t stay alive more than about 18 months, your pearls are going to pretty much be thinly-nacred beads and not worth much.
I was at the Smithsonian Natural History museum a few years ago when they had an exhibit of pearls. What was amazing was I had no idea how FRICKIN’ HUGE those things get (not from the oyster of course but from giant mollusks). The bigger they are the more they look like giant white concrete elephant droppings, but there are some baseball sized “pearly” pearls as well. While I knew about black and grey pearls they also come in green, purple, pink and all other colors (though I don’t think these are as useful for nephews).
Trivia: The brilliant scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla was absolutely repulsed by pearls. He briefly dated J.P. Morgan’s daughter but they broke up in part because of his Adrian Monk-like obsessing over her pearl jewelry.