Cultured pearls have an important place in international trade. The Vedas, the Bible, and the Koran all mentioned pearls, and they are regarded as one of the highest honours. Pearls are generated in nature when an irritant, such as a sand grain or a parasite, is swept into the pearl molluscs and lodged within it, where it is coated with micro-layers of nacre, a lustrous substance made up of 80–90 per cent aragonite crystals of CaCO3. The ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), Kausalyaganga, Bhubaneswar, India, has created a base technology for cultivating pearls in freshwater habitats, recognising the scope and value of freshwater pearl production. Indian pond mussel, Lamellidens marginalis is the major species used in freshwater pearl aquaculture. In addition, ICAR-CIFA has pioneered a novel feature of freshwater pearl farming. The Institute has also taken the lead in disseminating freshwater pearl culture technology to the country’s fish farming communities, entrepreneurs, researchers, and students to build a sustainable model for the country’s socio-economic development. In this chapter, we will briefly cover pearls and their types, their historical significance, the spread of pearl mussels of freshwater origin in various countries, pearl biomineralisation, pearl farming techniques, and factors affecting pearl quality, among other things.
Part of the book: Update on Malacology