Pearls are calcified nodules that grow in mollusks due to an irritation of the inner lining of the shell. This irritation occurs infrequently which accounts for the rarity of natural pearls. Freshwater pearls come from mussels that live in freshwater. Saltwater pearls come from oysters that live in salt water. People realized even in ancient times that pearl production in mussels and oysters could be artificially induced, thus creating cultured pearls. The technique of culturing pearls was greatly perfected by Japanese pearlmakers in the early 20th Century and was particularly centered at Lake Biwa near Kyoto. The Lake Biwa pearl industry has declined in recent decades because of pollution in the lake, and China has become the major producer of cultured freshwater pearls.
In the bracelet pictured above, pearls and lampwork glass beads complement each other. Click Beadshaper to see more of the Beadshaper's jewelry creations.