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5 Best Oysters With Pearls 2020
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People also ask About Oysters With Pearls
Are Pearls Found in oysters worth anything?
Ans: Pearls from edible oysters are possible, but even whole pearls (not attached to the shell) have little value for the most part. When attached, the value is even less. But pearls are a rare find, so it would certainly be a good keepsake.
How do I get oysters with pearls?
Ans: In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk’s shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.
A natural pearl begins its life inside an oyster’s shell when an intruder, such as a grain of sand or bit of floating food, slips in between one of the two shells of the oyster, a type of mollusk, and the protective layer that covers the mollusk’s organs, called the mantle.
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In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk’s shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.
Cultured pearls are made in the same way. The only difference is that instead of accidental circumstances, a “pearl farmer” embeds a grain of sand into the mollusk.
How many pearls are in one oyster?
Ans: The pearl sac grows around the nucleus and begins to deposit nacre. This nacre layering is the beauty of the pearl. Saltwater oysters will only produce 1 to 2 pearls per typical nucleation. Akoya oysters can be nucleated with up to 5 beads but the use of only 2 is most common.
Pearl Knowledge | Where Can I Buy Oysters With Pearls Inside
A pearl is a reaction to an irritant within a mollusk. Pearls are formed when the mollusk secretes thousands of very thin concentric layers of nacre, a secretion of calcium carbonate (aragonite and conchyolin) in a matrix that eventually coats an irritant, either man made or natural. The thin circumferential lamellae of nacre intersect the external surface of the pearl to create a ‘thumbprint pattern’ that characterises the surface of nacre.
Pearls form inside a mollusk which is an invertebrate with a soft body, often protected by a shell such as a clam, oyster or mussel. Any mollusk is capable of producing a pearl, although only those mollusks that have shells lined with nacre produce pearls that are used in the jewellery industry.
Cultured pearls are real, genuine pearls that are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. When a nucleus is surgically implanted in the oyster’s flesh, the oyster recognises it as an irritant and begins to coat it with smooth layers of nacre. Over time, the growing pearl gets completely covered with the beautiful iridescent substance we call nacre, or mother-of-pearl. All pearls sold today are cultured pearls, with the exception of vintage estate jewellery and heirloom pieces that are more than 80 years old.
Natural pearls, on the other hand, are formed naturally by free-range “wild” oysters living at sea without any encouragement from humans. When a natural irritant such as a fragment of shell, a scale or a parasite becomes lodged inside an oyster or mollusk, it gets coated with layer upon layer of nacre. Contrary to popular belief, grains of sand do not form pearls. If sand were enough of an irritant, our ocean floors would be littered with millions of natural pearls! Natural pearls are actually very rare, mostly because pearl-producing species of mollusks were nearly hunted to extinction with most natural beds of pearl-bearing oysters depleted by over-harvesting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, natural pearls are extremely rare. Only 1 in about 10,000 wild oysters will yield a pearl and of those, only a small percentage achieve the size, shape and colour desirable to the jewellery industry.
What is a Pearl Producing Mollusk?
Mollusks represent the earliest forms of animal life and date back 550 million years. Pearl-producing mollusks first appeared 530 million years ago when mollusks developed shells. Mollusks are invertebrates with a soft body often protected by a shell such as clam, oyster and mussel. Pearls are organic gemstones which form inside a living pearl-producing mollusk. Nacre is formed from iridescent layers or columns of flattened crystallised calcium carbonate, in the form of the mineral aragonite (ah-RAG-uh-nite), secretions over the irritant.
Where Can I Buy Oysters With Pearls Inside
These microscopic aragonite crystal layers, called platelets, are held together by conchyolin (kon-KY-uh-lin), an organic binding agent. The thin circumferential lamellae of nacre intersect the external surface of the pearl to create a ‘thumbprint pattern’ that characterises the surface of nacre.
Pearl oysters are members of the phylum Mollusca and belong to the class Bivalvia. Most pearl producing mollusks are bivalves, meaning their shells have two halves connected by a hinge (like a clam), a soft body with a small foot, a byssal gland and paired gills. Most bivalves are also passive filter feeders – meaning they maintain an open relationship with the environment by constantly circulating water through their shell in order to support their food supply. The anatomy of a bivalve mollusk facilitates the production of pearls. The mollusk opens its shell slightly to allow water to enter its body as it extracts microscopic food particles from the water. The open relationship of the bivalve structure increases the probability of the entrance of foreign objects and creatures. This is critical for pearl production since most natural pearls are formed as a reaction to a parasite or foreign object within the shell.
A pearl-producing mollusk can live in freshwater or saltwater. Freshwater mollusks are referred to as mussels while saltwater mollusks are referred to as oysters. While the name “pearl oyster” suggests a close relationship with other types of oysters, pearl oysters are actually a distinct species from edible oysters and have important anatomical and behavioural differences.
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There are a small number of mollusks capable of producing a pearl and only those mollusks that have shells lined with nacre (NAY-kur), the pearlescent substance inside the animal’s shell) produce the pearls used in the jewellery industry.
Pearl oysters feed on small algae found in the water column. The gills in bivalves are large and tiny hair-like cilia on the gills are used to remove small particles from the water. Both adults and larvae feed on algae and other small organisms. Clear tropical waters contain limited amounts of algae. Therefore, a large amount of water must be filtered daily in order for the pearl oyster to obtain sufficient food. This is the reason importance is placed on not crowding pearl oysters on the farm and for keeping the shells clean from organisms that compete for food.
Pearl oysters are protandric hemaphrodites which means that most are first male, then female. The male phase usually occurs during the first 2 to 3 years of life, with the change to the female phase in later years. Pearl oysters have been reported to live as long as 25 years. Pearl oysters reproduce by releasing millions of eggs or sperm into the water column where fertilisation occurs randomly.
In less than 24 hours, the fertilised egg develops into a trocophore larva, a free-swimming organism. The larvae remain suspended in the water column for 2 to 3 weeks before undergoing metamorphosis, changing into an attached juvenile “spat”. Shortly before metamorphosis, the larva develops an enlarged foot and an eye-spot. The foot remains after metamorphosis and the young spat retains the ability to move about for several months even after it attaches itself to a hard substrate. Pearl oysters can attach and reattach themselves using the byssus.
Sometimes a natural pearl forms when an irritant, such as a fragment of shell becomes lodged inside the mollusk when it is feeding, or a parasite drills through the shell. To protect itself, the mollusk forms a sac around any irritant or invader that managers to get caught up inside its body. This sac secretes nacre to cover the irritant and, over time, the growing pearls are completely covered with the beautiful iridescent substance we call nacre, or mother-of-pearl. The nacre and sac materials are made by the mollusk’s mantle, the layer of tissue cells that surround the body of the mollusk and lines the shell. The mantle tissue cells that make up the pearl sac are called epithelial (ep-uh-THEE-lee-yuhl) cells.
One commonality all cultured pearls share is the nucleus. Every pearl produced commercially today except naturally forming keshi pearls and pearls from Bahrain will have been nucleated. The nucleus used in all pearls farmed in saltwater today is a mother-of-pearl bead made from freshwater mussel shells found in North America. This bead is made from an oyster shell that has been cut, rounded, and polished. A nucleus is surgically implanted in the oyster’s gonads or mantle lobe together with a small section of mantle tissue. Implanting a bead alone will not stimulate pearl formation. The epithelial cells – mantle tissue- play a vital role in the pearl formation process. As the oyster recognises the nucleus as an irritant, it forms a sac around the irritant before coating it with smooth layers of nacre. Pearl farms now produce all the cultured pearls used in the jewellery industry today, and, while they are real, genuine pearls formed inside a living oyster, they are produced with a little human intervention.
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Saltwater oysters are nucleated by opening the shell a mere 2 to 3 centimetres and making a minute incision in the gonad – the oyster’s reproductive organ. The mother of pearl nucleus is inserted into this incision which is then followed with a very small piece of mantle tissue from a donor oyster. The mantle tissue is placed between the mother of pearl bead and the gonad with the side containing epithelial cells facing the nucleus. These epithelial cells are the catalyst of the pearl-sac. The pearl sac grows around the nucleus and begins to deposit nacre. This nacre layering is the beauty of the pearl.
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Saltwater oysters will only produce 1 to 2 pearls per typical nucleation. Akoya oysters can be nucleated with up to 5 beads but the use of only 2 is most common. The Akoya oyster dies at harvest. South Seaoysters (Pinctada margaritifera and Pinctada maxima) accept only one nucleus at a time but, as they do not die at harvest, they may be nucleated several times. If a particular oyster has been successfully nucleated several times and consistently produces fine pearls, the oyster is often returned to the wild to strengthen the genes of future generations of spat.
An oyster’s pearl sac will secrete nacre on nearly any solid object. This has led to countless attempts to nucleate oysters with material other than oyster shell. Success has been limited, however, and oyster shell is still the main staple of the pearl farmer as it has been since the early 1900s. The reasons nuclei of non-standard composition has been so quickly rejected in the past is because the density of the nucleus must exactly match, or be extremely close to the density of the host mussel.
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In order for the pearl to expand and contract in different environments, the nucleus must expand and contract in a compatible fashion. This is known as the thermal coefficient of expansion. The nuclei must also resist cracking, hold a high shine and remain stable over long periods of time. The material that best fits these criteria is the shell of the Mississippi freshwater mussel from the Unionidae family.
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This mussel has the added attribute of a thick shell, especially in the joint where the bivalve connects. This thick shell enables harvesters to create large nuclei to be used in culturing larger pearls.
Pearl Nucleus Composition
The nucleus of a pearl, although it is not typically visible in a harvested pearl, is extremely important in the culturing process. The nucleus is the seed that impregnates the oyster and produces the gem, although the process is not complete unless a small piece of mantle tissue is inserted with the bead.
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The bead material used to create the nucleus is almost exclusively derived from freshwater mussel shells found in the rivers of North America. The shell harvested from these rivers is typically first transported to Asia to be worked. This process involves cutting the thick portion of the shells near the hinges into strips then into cubes.
These cubes are then shaped into perfect spheres by grinding, tumbling and polishing. These finished nuclei are then separated by size and quality. The finished product falls into different quality ranges in a similar fashion as the actual pearl.
Our oysters start their lives as wild, free-swimming plankton in the lagoon. After three weeks of swimming their new shells become too heavy and they search for a surface they can attach to. We set out collectors during strategic times of year usually corresponding to changes in the season that offer ideal places for the young and vulnerable oysters to seek refuge and mature.
After around two and a half years these collected oysters are large enough to start producing pearls.
Almost all the pearls you find on the market today are cultured, meaning an oyster has surgically been implanted with a small shell ball that will eventually become a pearl. Kamoka Pearl has pioneered many techniques, including the use of mother of pearl nuclei and using happy, hungry fish to clean parasites off our oysters
Choosing the color
The first part of the graft procedure involves transplanting a small piece of mantle (the organ that secretes the oyster’s iridescent shell) from one oyster to another. The bulk of the research we have done at Kamoka has been focused on the complex nature of the mantle (called the graft tissue once it’s been cut for the graft), which largely dictates the quality of a pearl. Our donor oysters are meticulously chosen for the beauty of their colors, as this dictates the eventual color of the pearl.
The next step in the grafting process is the insertion of a nucleus, the six to eight millimeter ball around which the pearl grows. A successful grafter uses sterile and razor-sharp tools, antibiotics, an eye for detail, and a very, very steady hand.
The Japanese researchers who pioneered the grafting process decided that the shell of a wild mussel in the Mississippi river basin had the appropriate density for a pearl nucleus, and to this day most nuclei come from this unlikely mollusk. This practice leads not only to inferior pearls, but has also endangered the very existence of this North American mussel due to over-fishing.
Kamoka’s sustainable nuclei
At Kamoka, virtually all our nuclei are made of mother of pearl (MOP), a natural product of our very own Pinctada margaritifera oysters or their Pinctada maxima cousins. We were the first company in Polynesia to use MOP nuclei, and the Tahitian Pearl Farming Board (Le Service de la Perliculture) found in independent tests that our nuclei produced three times more A grade pearls than any other nucleus type.
Growing the pearls
Immediately after the grafting operation, the oysters are placed inside baskets. The baskets are then suspended on long lines in the clear lagoon water for about a year and a half while the pearls inside them form and grow. They are kept at a depth where they receive the maximum nourishment and the baskets protect the oysters from predators like rays and sea turtles. Every few months we clean the parasites off the oysters either by hanging them near the reef where fish munch them clean, or my hand by scraping them with cleavers.
Harvest and the second graft
Finally the oysters are removed and their pearls are gently extracted. A second graft is then performed, this time with a much larger nucleus that roughly corresponds to the size of the extracted pearl. At the harvest of this second pearl, a third graft of even larger proportions is sometimes performed. Although extremely rare, we have used pearl nuclei up to 18 millimeters in diameter! Unfortunately every successive pearl sees the increasing age of the oyster and the subsequent decline in quality. This is why very large pearls of excellent quality are so rare.
The Best Oysters in Toronto
The best oysters in Toronto bring a little taste of the sea to this lakeside town. The places that serve them well know how to properly source, shuck, and accompany these delicacies.
Here are the best oysters in Toronto.6 – The Chase Fish & Oyster
This Financial District powerhouse pairs oysters with crudo, clams, shrimp and crab as part of elaborate $150 platters.
11 – Honest Weight
Part fish counter, part restaurant, you can pick your oysters right out of the case at this cozy seafood restaurant in the Junction to go or to stay.
3 – Rodney’s Oyster House
Each day there are anywhere from nine to 26 varieties of West coast, East coast, Japanese or European oysters on the menu at this King West seafood institution, usually priced at an average of $3.
10 – Bar Neon
It doesn’t get much better than daily happy hour buck-a-shuck deals on oysters out on the patio at this Bloordale bar, usually fresh-shucked Malpeques with the simple accompaniments: lemon, mignonette and horseradish.
9 – Nome Izakaya
Don Mills and North York locations of this Japanese sharing restaurant serves Fanny Bay, Malpeque, French Kiss, Kusshi and Belon oysters by the piece, half dozen or dozen.
4 – Oyster Boy
You can not only eat, but also learn how to shuck oysters from the fine folks at this West Queen West bar. Sourced directly from East and West coast harvesters, the selection changes daily but you can expect to sample varieties like Cascumpec Bay, Colville Bay, Malpeque, St. Simon, La Caraquette, Black Pearl, Beach Angel and Kusshi.
5 – Diana’s Seafood Oyster Bar
East and West Coast varieties of oysters available at Scarborough and Markham locations of this decades-old seafood shrine include Fanny Bay, Malpeque, Kusshi, French Kiss, Lucky Lime and Pacific Tiger.
8 – Pearl Diver
Once operated by the current Ceili Cottage owner, the shucking legacy of this place on Adelaide near Jarvis lives on with late night oysters for $20 a dozen after 10 p.m.
7 – Ceili Cottage
The proprietor of this Leslieville Irish pub is an international oyster shucking champion who’s written a book using his expertise, and people head here from all around to try Irish and PEI oysters when available. You can also take out unshucked oysters.
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