They Are Not Oysters

All About Pearls - Our Pearl Blog, The Science of Pearls
They Are Not Oysters - well, these are oysters - the pearl girls

Pteria, Mollusk, Oyster, Pinctada… what am I talking about? The beautiful pearl making species… they are not oysters, per se, so what are they?!

I just wrote a post where I used all of these words referring to one species of mollusk and I fear that you have NO IDEA what I am talking about! I can’t blame you! So I am going to talk through why I use all these completely unrelated terms.

First, an oyster.

They Are Not Oysters - well, these are oysters - the pearl girls

We all know what those are, right? Many have been gobbled up while standing around a piece of plyboard, elevated by sawhorses, while enjoying the musky thick heat of the South Carolina coast. Yum! (actually, truth be told.. I am not a huge fan of eating oysters even though I enjoyed quite a few oyster roasts with my friends in Beaufort!).

But, you know what I am talking about, we all know oysters.

 

If we take it on back to our species classification in school that starts with animals…the classification moves from Animalia (Kingdom) to Mollusca (Phylum). I love using the word mollusk (mollusca, mollusc) because it casts a wide net. Mollusks include all bivalve species but other species as well including sea snails (which can occasionally form a pearl) and octopus (no pearls there!). But, I do feel very all-inclusive when I say mollusk because both saltwater and freshwater species are in the phylum mollusk.  Let’s look at our Tennessee River mollusks that form our natural Tennessee River pearls:they are not oysters-Freshwater-mussels-the pearl girls

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Subclass: Palaeoheterodonta
Order: Unionoida

The most common families are the Margaritiferidae and the Unionidae.

So, we have these mollusks. And we have these oysters. Why are they called oyster? Well, it is a variation on the order Ostreoida.

they are not oysters - this is a pacific oyster - the pearl girlsKingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Subclass: Pteriomorphia
Order: Ostreoida
Superfamily: Ostreoidea
Family: Ostreidae

 

These oysters do not create our beautiful gem quality pearls. These are the oysters we eat! So, why do I refer to our pearl making gems as oysters. Well, it is easy to relate to! If you hear me say oyster you get a sense of what I am talking about, right?

But, let’s get technical. What are the pearl bearing mollusks that we are breeding and harvesting pearls from. These are the Pinctada!mazatlantica shell - pearls in mexico - the pearl girls

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Pterioida
Family: Pteriidae
Genus: Pinctada
These species are P. mazatlanica, P. margaritifera, P. imbricata, P. maxima, etc.

In the Sea of Cortez we have the lovely Pteria genus creating the lovely Cortez pearls.

Kingdom: Animaliaa view at mexican pearls -mexican pearl farm- the pearl girls
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Pterioida
Family: Pteriidae
Genus: Pteria
Species: P. sterna

 

 

 

 

So, they are not oysters although I might continuing calling them oysters, or mollusks, or bivalves … but now you know what they truly are! Enjoy!

India

3 thoughts on “They Are Not Oysters

  1. This is so interesting. I grew up on the Texas gulf coast and have enjoyed dozens and dozens of raw oysters over the years. Every oyster bar has a “pearl jar” where they collect little pearls as they open the oysters. Are these in fact not pearls, or as they merely very low-quality pearls? Because I always got excited if I found one in my oysters 😉

    1. Heck yeah you were excited! And I would be, too! These are definitely pearls! However, since the oysters we eat have a bit of a flater, chalkier looking Mother of Pearl, the pearls we find in our eating oysters are sometimes flat or chalky looking. They are typically not as pretty or as luminous as the pearls we have come to know and love. But, they are definitely pearls! And we have even created jewelry for customers who found pearls in their oysters. What a treasure!

      Love,

      India

  2. I love working with the pearl girls to create a lovely pearl necklace for my granddaughter who is just 3 (yay a girl!! finally) Every year I send her necklace to The Pearl Girls and they add an inch – or whatever I want. We are beginning to graduate them, which is great because they will be for her High School Graduation

    Rarely do I find a company that is so kind and caring! So professional and available! I adore the Pearl Girls! What a fabulously lovely group of ladies!

    I have the utmost confidence when I ship my pearls off to them every year. They always call and follow up to ensure that they understand what I’d like them to do. I will buy myself a necklace from the lovely ladies at the Pearl Girls soon I hope. I wouldn’t want to buy one from any where else in the world. It’s an American Company so that’s first requirement for me! Just outstanding service and caring of our special things and one can not put a price on that!
    I do find their prices quite fair and I love that I always know who is working and knotting my piece. One day I hope to get to Athens GA to visit shop! Outstanding service and knowledge! Thank you all so much I get so excited waiting for my pearls to return so can see how lovely it’s looking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *