The Pearl of Great Price

Now that I finally got a chain for it, I am enjoying wearing my Tahitian black pearl. (Technically, it’s a Raiatea black pearl, but for export purposes, they are all classified as Tahitian.) I could post beautiful pictures from the visit to the pearl farm of “black” pearls in a range of colors, ID them as Pinctada margaritifera – and watch them all go to Casual because they are captive/cultivated. We’re spoiled nowadays – thanks to pearl farming, pearls really aren’t “of great price” anymore.

Except when they are wild. Wouldn’t that be something, to observe a pearl in the wild? With the sheer number of observations on iNaturalist, it seems that somewhere in this vast database, someone must have uploaded an observation of a genuine wild pearl.

Pearls and amber – the only two gems that can rightfully be considered State of Matter Life and have a place on iNat. I sure would love to see either of them in the wild.


Of course any shelled mollusk can form a “pearl”, although most of those would be worthless except as a curio.

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Here’s one that is definitely worthless “except as a curio,” but it was fun to find:


Once upon a time I worked in a jewelry store and pearls were (are) my favorite gems.

Finding a true wild pearl would be something. I would definitely obscure that observation. I don’t know if you read the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but there’s a part in there where Captain Nemo shows the professor a large mussel that has a large round pearl in it that the captain has been monitoring.


Abalone pearls can be very beautiful, with all the peacock shades associated with the polished shell and an even higher lustre. They’re often irregular (known in the jewelry trade as “baroque”) and fetch very high prices:

What a great observation that would make!

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Well, I’m sure that kind is as rare as the gem kind; if it is indeed worthless, it is because of the “demand” side of the equation. And it goes to show that you aren’t going to find a valuable pearl in your bucket of baked oysters, unless you specifically baked pearl oysters.

If I found a wild pearl, even if it was as plain-looking as that, I think I would still treasure it like a jewel.

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