While most pearls are cultured in oysters that live in salty sea water, freshwater pearls are cultivated in mussels that live in the freshwater lakes, ponds and streams of China. Freshwater pearls are typically not as round, lustrous or shiny as other cultured pearls, however, they are considerably more durable. Using a special harvesting process, a number of pearls can be produced by a single mussel. Depending on the mussel, what the mussel is fed, and the minerals in the local water, freshwater pearls can vary in colour from white, purple, lavender and pink, to peach, plum and tangerine. Ranging in size from 2-16mm in diameter, their average size is 7-8mm. Due to the irregularity in their colour, shape and size, freshwater pearls are the least expensive of all cultured pearls and quite popular for the very same reason. For excellent value, look for well-formed freshwater pearls .
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