Pearls are formed in the body of a sea oyster as a response to an irritant that enters its shell. The irritant can be a foreign object such as a grain of sand or a parasite that makes its way into the oyster’s shell. In response to the irritant, the oyster secretes a substance called nacre (also known as mother-of-pearl) around the irritant to protect its soft body. Over time, multiple layers of nacre are deposited around the irritant, forming a pearl.
The process of pearl formation is complex and involves a series of biological and chemical reactions. When the irritant enters the oyster’s shell, the oyster’s mantle (a soft tissue layer) begins to produce nacre to protect its body. The nacre is secreted in the form of microscopic layers that build up around the irritant, gradually creating a pearl.
The size and quality of the pearl depend on various factors, including the size and type of irritant, the length of time it takes for the oyster to form the pearl, and the conditions of the water where the oyster is grown. Some pearls can take several years to form, while others may take only a few months.