Thursday, 3 July 2014

Pearls: Where Do They Come From?




As i walked along the shore of Kota Kinabalu town in Sabah, there were many kiosks selling pearls. Beautiful pearls for necklaces, earrings, brooches and other accessories. Just plain white - but no doubt it makes beautiful jewellery that look real classy.


Most luxurious ornaments are fashioned out of metal or rocks found from the crust of the earth, but pearls are different. They are found in oysters, a living creature that forms shiny pearls from grains of sand.

Pearls start to form when a foreign object like sand or a piece of shell accidentally enters the inner body of the oyster, called mantle. When the oyster is unable to remove the foreign object, it will secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance called nacre (the outer coating of pearls) around the foreign substances.  Layer by layer, the oyster will continue to secrete nacre as long as the foreign substance is still in its body, and as result, a shimmering jewel called the pearl is produced! 


However, not all pearls turn out nice, shiny and round. These uneven shaped pearls are called baroque pearls which usually have low value in the market. In Malaysia, pearl trading is most popular in Sabah as pearls are cultured there. Sabah is famous for white pearls but pearls don't only come in white,  they can also be found in black, red, blue and green from all around the world.

Isn't it amazing how nature's defensive mechanism can produce such a beautiful, shimmering element like the pearl?







Shared by Atika Nordin
Intern at Petrosains, The Discovery Centre






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