Friday, March 25, 2011

Tennessee River Pearls

One of the most significant freshwater pearl farms in the world lies on the Tennessee River in the United States.



Because of the large size of these freshwater mussels, many shapes and sizes can be cultured.



Most of the pearls for sale at the gift shop when I visited were coin, pear and tablet shaped. After nucleation these mussels are left do their thing for three to five years before harvesting, yielding a high quality and lustrous cultured pearl because of the extremely thick nacre.



You are probably still wondering why this little farm is so important. The pearl output, in global terms, is minuscule. The significance lies in the shells of these mussels. 95% or more of the world's cultured pearls are nucleated with beads carved from these shells. Thus far, no better nucleus material has been found.

12 comments:

Islandgirl said...

I always assumed that all the fresh water pearls came from the orient too! Interesting blog!

mcstoneworks said...

Fascinating! I didn't know the US had a pearl farm until you mentioned this earlier. Great info and pics.

Jeanne/J3Jewelry said...

I had no idea that there was a pearl farm in the Tennessee River. What a pleasant surprise! That is a place I would so love to visit!

Koolbraider said...

Never knew what was used to start the growth of cultured pearls. It must be wonderful to open the shells and check what's inside.

AMDesignsbyAngela said...

More new information about pearls...you are a wealth of pearl knowledge, Andrea...Thanks for sharing it!

EleganceandSparkles said...

Another interesting tidbit about the shells I have just learned. Those pearls aren't half bad either.

Cat said...

What an interesting post!

Beadroe said...

Can you visit and tour the facility. Do you know the exact location and name?

galadryl said...

Thank you very much, very informative.

BeadSire said...

There are a couple of pearl farms here too, interesting reading for my favourite jewellery bead/adornment.

Bonnie said...

I never knew that we had a pearl farm here in the US. Thanks for sharing. I will put a visit to it on my bucket list.

DawninCal said...

Another one who didn't know there were any pearl farms in the U.S. Now that I do, I want to take a tour.

Fascinating, Andrea!