How Pearls Get Their Shape

Geo Beats
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By now you’ve probably heard that pearls start off as a foreign granule of something and through time and the magic of certain mollusks become perfectly polished pearls. Some of them also come out being perfectly round.

By now you’ve probably heard that pearls start off as a foreign granule of something and through time and the magic of certain mollusks become perfectly polished pearls. Some them also come out perfectly round.

It’s been thought that the perfectly spherical specimens are a result of natural rotation, but the missing link in the process was exactly how they were rotating.

Round and oblong pearls start the same way. When the clam, oyster, or mussel detects an intruder its defense mechanism is activated and the intruder is coated with nacre, a crystalline substance also known as mother-of-pearl.

As the substance builds, it creates terraces around the growing object. As the terraces build up they release a warm energy.

Meanwhile, the water molecules in the surrounding liquid drop on the little pearl steps and build up some thermal energy of their own.

A small force in the opposite direction is created, and the pearl begins to spin every so slowly.

When the crystallization process stops, so does the rotating.

Naturally round pearls are incredibly rare. Most pearls on the market are cultured – they’re still from mollusks, but the process has been manipulated.

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