They are not mined neither are they ocean debris or remnants. Pearls are found at water bodies; shocked? Even many lovers of arts, fashion and numerous foodies know little or nothing about oysters and pearls. Think you do? Seat back and relish the moment as I prove you otherwise.
Pearls are from oysters, a living creature that lives in water- fresh or salt water environments. They are characterized by thick shells used in protecting its soft body from foreign objects- a process tagged as a defense mechanism which serves as shield. True to mention, other creatures such as mussels and clams produce pearls but they do so occasionally. Oysters were first mentioned in English in the 14th century with the name originating from French and Latin.
In terms of food and trade, some oysters can be cooked directly and served as delicacies while some are sort for other purposes. There are quite few prehistoric testimonies of consumption of oysters. By adopting knowledge of hydraulics, Sergius Orata of the Roman republic was credited as the first retailer who cultivated and traded oysters using all available space and avenue possible. In Australia, New South to be precise, there was documentation of oysters as food in the Middens. Also, the continent of Asia which is quite known for high consumption of aquatic animals is not left out in this regard. Japan and many other nations in the continent are known to have many cultivation zones for oysters either for consumption or harvesting of pearls. In Whitstable, the United Kingdom, oyster farming is a booming trade as oysters serve as food and other industrial supplements. For instance, in the United Kingdom, oyster festivals and events like Woburn oyster event and “Colchester natives” celebration is held every September and October respectively; and oysters are served as food or drinks in the form of oyster brewed stout.
However, before the acceptance of oysters and pearls, the general perception of it was that it was simply a meal and piece of ornament (the pearl) for the middle class as it was cheap but this conception faded out in the minds of many as it gradually became accepted by all especially in the 19th century with increasing demand worldwide thus increasing employment and ultimately transitioning from the “meal of the middle class” to an exquisite and expensive delicacy.
With a group of oysters referred to as a bed or oyster reef, the need of it transcends consumption as its pearl also serve other purpose such as decoration, designs and other artistic uses. Generated through a biological process, pearls are the end product of irritants covered up by layers of nacre within the oysters which in turn form pearls. Contrary to popular notions, pearls are found in many shapes, sizes and colors, with some in gray, black, green and even blue. However, there is preference for the round pearls because they are perfect fit for making jewelries and many others serving various purposes. Quite an exposition? Do you still think you know your oysters and pearls? Then this quiz is yours, clock ticks.