Tag: Oyster

The House a Necklace Bought

In my search for unique pearls, I came across an inspiring story about the origins of the famous Cartier building in New York City. The story is told that in 1915 Louis Cartier made history with the first natural, double-stranded Oriental pearl necklace costing $1.2 million ($16 million today). This necklace was placed on exhibition all over the world including Paris, London, and New York City. In the fall of 1916, the necklace’s appearance in New York reportedly caused a huge uproar with women from all over coming to admire them. Among these ladies was Mae “Maisie” Plant. At the time Cartier’s New York Salon was on the second floor of a small building in an inconspicuous part of town. Coincidently, Maisie had just placed her $1.2 million mansion up for sale. Knowing she wanted to sell her mansion anyway, Maisie approached Cartier and proposed a trade…the mansion for the pearl necklace. Surprisingly, Cartier accepted. Ever since that exchange, the Cartier firm has been located in the former Plant mansion and has come to be a great landmark for tourists in New York City.


Regrettably, things did not go as well for Maisie as with Cartier. Seeing how she didn’t anticipate the depression, war, or the introduction of cultured pearls her necklace did not end up being an even trade. Maisie died in 1956 and in 1957, her $1.2 million necklace was sold at auction for a mere $170,000; the current value of the Fifth Avenue mansion I’ll leave to your imagination. More recently, in 2004, a similar natural, double-strand pearl necklace sold at Christie’s for $3.1 million. Because only one gem-quality pearl is uncovered from every 25,000 wild oysters found in the ocean, these pearls are considered the rarest in the world today. If only Plants’ heirs had held on to her necklace for a few more decades, they could have sold Maisie’s pearls for much more!

Maisie Plant and her fabulous double strand of natural pearls from Cartier.
Maisie Plant and her fabulous double strand of natural pearls from Cartier.
Fashion girls

5 Fashion Must Haves

Just like an LBD (little black dress) is a closet must-have for every lady, there are also some jewelry basics every woman must have stashed away for certain occasions. Jewelry boxes can fascinate and entertain women of all ages. Women love to accessorize and what better way than with something that glistens and shines!

  • Class Pearl Strand: An 18 inch pearl necklace is the perfect addition to any outfit. As the quintessential pearl accessory this is what most people think of when they hear “pearls.” Perfect for business casual, a night out on the town, or even with causal blue jeans.
  • Pearl Pendant:  A simple yet elegant pendant with a white pearl in the center of a sterling silver setting can be paired with V-necks, rounded collars, or even high necked tops for the chance to dress up or dress down.
  • Pearl stud earrings: A classic pair of white pearl stud earrings can be great for formal evenings or every day, and would complement any pearl necklace or pendant in white. For a more dressy spin on the classic white pearl studs, try our White Freshwater Pearl w/Swarovski Stud Earrings.
  • Long pearl necklace: A long necklace works well for any season.  With the ability to shorten or lengthen the length depending on individual body type, the 78″ Gunmetal Gray Freshwater Pearl Rope is a great addition with a fun and artsy way to display pearls. With endless ways to wear this necklace, friends and onlookers will see a new necklace every day!
  • Pearl dangle earrings: Another artsy way to display fashion sense, pearl dangle earrings can help put a more personalized feel when added with pearl pendants or necklaces.

Next time a shopping spree is needed, instead of adorning a closet with new shoes, purses, wallets, and dresses, try stopping into Pearls International to spice up that jewelry box! With new and ever-changing inventory, Pearl’s International always has the latest and greatest ways to help keep stylish accessories for every jewelry need!


What’s the difference between oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops?

Oysters, clams, mussels and scallops – aren’t those all the same thing?!

Close – these animals all belong to the mollusk family, and have lots of similarities. Are all members of the mollusk family, which includes any invertebrate having one, two or more shells that wholly or partially enclose their soft, unsegmented body. Other mollusks you may know are snails, squids and octopuses. Oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops are all commonly farmed or harvested for food and they all also have the ability to produce a pearl, although the types of pearls they can produce are all very different. To learn more about some amazing naturally formed pearls (from more than just oysters!) Check out our awesome Natural Pearls blog to help shed some more light on the differences between some of the mollusks mentioned in this blog.

So now that you know how they’re similar, let’s get to why you’re really here: to learn how they’re different. Lets break it down:
According to dictionary.com, an oyster is any of several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks of the family Ostreidae, having an irregularly shaped shell, occurring on the bottom of or adhering to rocks or other objects in shallow water.

A clam is any of various bivalve mollusks, especially certain edible species.

Mussels are any bivalve mollusk, especially an edible marine bivalve of the family Mytilidae and a freshwater clam of the family Unionidae.

And scallops are any of the bivalve mollusks of the genus Argopecten (Pecten) andrelated genera that swim by rapidly clapping the fluted shell valves together.

Still confused? Lets compare them side by side.
Clams and scallops can move about in their environment, while mussels and oysters are rooted into wherever they attach their shell. As mentioned in the dictionary.com definition above, scallops move by clapping their shells together. Here’s some video proof:

Clams move by opening their shell and sticking out a large foot that they use to push themselves along the surface with. As seen in the following video, the “foot” actually looks more like a huge tongue! They really are neat animals.

Mussels also have feet, although they prefer to remain attached to their substrate.

Wild oyster shells are typically rough, dull, and covered in barnacles.
Wild oyster shells are typically rough, dull, and covered in barnacles.

In appearance, all are very similar. Oysters typically have round or oval shaped shells, mussel shells are more oblong, clam shells are typically more short and squat in shape, and can be smooth or have wide waves as seen in the giant clam.

Short, round clam shells
Short, round clam shells.

Scallops have the iconic sea-shell shape.

Colorful scallop shells
Scallops come in a range of colors.

These animals exist in a wide range of sizes, but mussels typically are the smallest of the mollusks, averaging only a couple inches across.

A bed of mussels
A bed of mussels. They are typically small and come in a wide range of colors.

The average size for scallops are two to three inches, with the largest species being the deep-sea scallop at five or six inches across. Oysters and clams, on the other hand, can grow to be huge! The largest oyster discovered was around 15 inches, and giant clams can reach a whopping six feet in length. In fact, one of these massive clams actually produced a fourteen pound pearl.

This example of a giant clam has a large, ridged shell.
This example of a giant clam has a large, ridged shell.

Although all of these mollusks are similar, all have their own roots or traditions.  Clams were worshiped by the Moche people of ancient Peru and used as money by the Algonquin Indians. Scallops symbolize femininity in many cultures. The outward shell represents the protective and nurturing ability that a mother possesses. The famous painting of the Roman goddess of love and fertility, Venus, painted by Botticelli includes a scallop shell. Also, in ancient cultures a young couple desiring to bear offspring had to make a pilgrimage and often carried a scallop shell as a symbol of gaining fertile abilities. In Christianity, the a scallop shell is often seen as a symbol of a pilgrimage, thanks to the use of a scallop shell by the apostle St. James the Great, who traveled with a shell and would only ask those he met for enough to fill the shell – whether it be a small drink of water or a mouthful of food. The scallop shell now also appears in many pieces of religious Western art.

Fascinated by the world of oysters and their mollusk cousins? You may be interested in opening your own oyster at home!

Queen Elizabeth I

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – When Did Pearls Gain Popularity?

Pearls were the most popular gemstone for jewelry usage before diamonds were discovered in the early 1700’s (This painting of Queen Elizabeth I shows the queen’s wealth and power by the number of pearls she wears). At the time, diamonds were more affordable than pearls due to the fact that the only way to get pearls was to dive for them. Pearls had been in use already for thousands of years by the time of Elizabeth I. They are referenced in several ancient texts, and always in glowing terms.

Black Oyster Shell

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – The Organic Gem

Did you know pearls are the only gemstone made by living animals? All other gemstones and even metals are must be mined out of the earth, but the pearl’s beauty comes straight from the seas or rivers. Many types of gems are naturally occurring, and gemstones are minerals which are cut and polished to create an effect suitable for wearing as jewelry. Pearls, however, do not need to be cut or polished in order to see their luster and beauty, and are absolutely perfect the moment they are removed from an oyster. That’s what makes pearls the perfect gem stone!


Ocean View

Legends of the Pearl

Taking a break from feeding you information and facts about pearls, I came across these legends and found them to be very interesting! The Arab legend really makes the oyster seem like such a unique little creature!

“According to Arab legend; Pearls come into being from dewdrops, which fall from heaven on the night of the full moon.  The oysters then carry away into the depths of the sea, a little of that marvelous light from the star that marks out our time – and the pearl is born.” Oysters are so fascinating!

“It is said that the Roman General Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother’s earrings.” That’s unbelievable!

“According to Chinese tradition, pearls bring love, money, protection and luck. Pearls are also thought to quicken the laws of karma, keep children safe and strengthen love relationships. Pearls have also always been symbols of purity and innocence.” We like to think our pearls will do the same!

“The pearl is the only gem that can emerge from nature perfect and complete. Unlike diamonds and other gemstones, it does not require cutting and polishing to reveal its beauty. It is nature’s perfection in a luminous droplet.”

It’s true, if you’ve never opened an oyster to find a pearl…YOU NEED TO!

Order your own oyster today!

Quotes from mermaidpearls.com


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Oyster Spats

Ooh, Baby: All About Oyster Sex!

Did you know that oysters can be hermaphroditic, meaning each mollusk is non-gender specific and has both male and female reproductive organs? When water temperatures reach 68 degrees Fahrenheit, mature oysters over one year can begin reproduction. Oysters are broadcast spawners; this means they release their sperm and eggs into the water to be fertilized, and each oyster can produce between 1 and 1 million eggs, depending on the species! A fertilized egg develops into a planktonic, or free swimming, larva in about 6 hours. Then, within 12 to 24 hours, a fully shelled larva is formed within 12 to 24 hours. The larvae remain planktonic and float around for about three weeks which helps introduce oysters to other areas in the ocean.

Credit: National Geographic

The larvae often fall to the bottom of the ocean and land on rocks, shells, or sand. Towards the end of this larva period it develops a foot which helps the oyster consciously walk instead of float with water movements. At this stage, the collection of itty-bitty oysters is called a brood. The larvae look for appropriate hard surfaces like old decaying oyster shells to form their new home. There, the larva cements itself in place and continues its growth process. The newly attached oyster is known as a spat (pictured in photo at the top of this post). From the spat stage, the oyster can begin its metamorphosis into the adult form. It usually takes about 2 years before the oyster becomes large enough to produce a pearl!

Credit: University of Maryland
Beautiful Pearls

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – Oyster Health

Did you know harvesting pearls from mollusks does not kill the animals? Pearl farmers are very careful to preserve each oyster in order to re-use the animal to create more pearls. A harvester carefully slides his or her blade in between the bivalve and gently pries the shells apart. A plug is inserted to keep the mollusk open while the pearl can be extracted. The oyster is then left to recuperate before another irritant insertion.

Gorgeous Pearls

We want your opinion on the NEW AND IMPROVED Pearls International!

Howdy there!

If you’re looking around today, you’ve probably noticed that there have been quite a few changes at Pearls International! That’s because we’ve completely overhauled the way this website looks and functions in order to give our customers the very best online shopping experience.

Here are a few of the cool new features:

Better security.

Our customers’ security and privacy online is of the utmost importance. Our new site provides even better protection for your personal information during online transactions. We are committed to protecting your information to the greatest degree possible. When you shop online at Pearls International, you can be absolutely your information is safe and secure. Check out our Privacy Policy for more information!

User-Friendly Menus and Search.

Our new drop-down menus make it easier than ever to find the products you’re looking for! Simply select the appropriate category and you can navigate to any type of product we sell. You can also choose to view all of the products we carry by clicking the Shop Now button!

Simple Sharing and Syndication.

You can now share content from anywhere on the site, using the handy buttons located next to the search box at the top of each page. Want to subscribe to the content on our site? The RSS button makes it easy! For all you Pinterest addicts, you’ll now find a “Pin It” button at the bottom of each product page!

Mobile Support.

Get your Pearl Fix on the go with our new mobile functionality! You can view Pearls International on both iPhone and Android platforms and the responsive layout will adjust to any screen size.

Comprehensive Content.

Our customers asked for more information about pearls, and we have delivered! At the bottom of each page, you’ll now find plenty of resources for the Pearl Addict and Novice alike! Check out our Pearl Library and Pearl Buying Guide for helpful tips and information!

Let us know what your favorite part of our redesign is, and you’ll be entered to win our monthly prize drawing! Be sure to leave your contact info so we can let you know if you win!

Inserting the irritant between the oyster's shells

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – How Are Pearls Made?

Contrary to popular belief, pearls do not come from a grain of sand! Often, it is depicted that pearl formation is due to a grain of sand that has made its way into the oyster. This is hardly ever true. Formation is due to the intrusion of an outside substance that is organic in nature.  The invasion can be the result of an injury or an intruding parasite, kind of like a splinter to the oyster. The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. It covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create the shell. Nacre, a calcium carbonate substance, is very similar to the main ingredient in antacid tablets like TUMS. This material is combined with special proteins to create nacre. As layer upon layer of nacre coats the irritant, a pearl is formed! Light that is reflected from these overlapping layers produces a pearl’s characteristic iridescent luster.

Cultured pearls are created with the same process as natural pearls, but are given a slight nudge by pearl harvesters. To create a cultured pearl, the harvester opens the oyster’s shell and makes a small incision in the mantle tissue. Small irritants can then be inserted under the mantle. In freshwater cultured pearls, cutting the mantle is enough to induce the nacre secretion that produces a pearl, whereas in saltwater cultured pearls, an irritant has to be inserted to induce nacre secretion.