The Birth of a Pearl
IT WAS ONLY IN THE 16 TH CENTURY THAT NATURALISTS BEGAN TO DRAW UP A TRULY SCIENTIFIC THEORY AS TO HOW PEARLS WERE FORMED
It became widely accepted that contrary to popular belief of the time, a pearl did not in fact grow from a droplet of rain or dew.Initially, certain theorists believed pearls to be eggs.That the oyster had failed to expel and which had become attached to the shell.
GRADUALLY, THOUGH, ANOTHER THEORY EMERGED:
In the 18 th century, Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur realised that the oyster began to produce pearls when fragments of shell irritated its body.In the mid, 20 th century Filippo de Filippi observed freshwater mussels and noticed the presence of parasitic worms.It then became clear that foreign bodies such as, sand, shell fragments, worms or algae were behind the formation of pearls as the oyster defended itself.
TODAY WE KNOW THAT THE PROTECTIVE SHELL IS PRODUCED BY THE MANTEL.
To grow in size or repair its shell, the oyster regularly secrets mother of pearl substance made of two elements based on calcium carbonate, aragonite and conchiolin. When an intruder gets inside of the shell, the oyster will deposit the mother of pearl in a series of fine layers around the foreign body just as it does when making its own shell.These layers, composed of aragonite, are cemented together by a translucent film of conchiolin, all what gives the pearl its characteristics luminescent transparency and sheen.