How do Oysters Make Colored Pearls?

Most crystals occur naturally from the heat and pressure of the Earth over millions of years. But pearls are different. They are the only natural gem formed in the mollusks, clams, and mussels.

What colors do pearls come in? Cultured pearls are found in various colors like pink, green, purple, blue, white, peach, and black. That’s not all. Some of these amazing gems also come with fabulous multicolor shades.

But have you ever wondered how oysters make colored pearls? This is what this blog post is about. So keep reading as we explain how do oysters make colored pearls.

What is Mother-of-Pearl (Nacre)?

Mother of pearl is an informal name given to the lustrous substance that creates the inner lining of the oyster or mollusks shell. This substance is formally referred to as nacre. Please note that this nacre is a unique amalgamation of minerals that oysters and mollusks make. 

The epithelial cells present in the mollusks’ lining secret tiny platelets. These platelets form the foundation of the nacre. Moreover, these platelets are made up of calcium carbonate. Therefore, when the mollusks secrete them, the platelets have a structure similar to the light waves. 

And this process gives nacre its shimmering, iridescent shine and makes it unique. So what is the job of the nacre? First, it sits inside the shell, protecting it from external parasites and pollutants. 

Also see: Types of Pearls: Akoya, Tahitian, Freshwater & South Sea

A Few Words About Us

Elasaro Jewelry

Handmade Jewelry

Elasaro provides beautiful handmade earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings.

Quality Materials

We use natural stones with sterling silver to ensure high quality and durability.

16+ Countries

A growing community of customers that wear our jewelry around the world.

How do Oysters make Pearls?

We all know that oysters are bivalves. The oyster’s shell is composed of two valves or parts. A special elastic ligament holds both valves together. It also helps in keeping the valves open to enable oysters to eat. 

To understand how oysters make pearls, you should first understand their anatomy. The mouth, stomach, intestine, heart, mantle, gills, and abductor muscles are the major parts of an oyster. 

Pearl is formed when a foreign ingredient slips between the shell and mantle into the oyster. It irritates the mantle, and the oyster gets a splinter. On receiving a splinter, the oyster tries to cover up the irritant and protect itself.

The mantle starts covering the irritant with multiple layers of nacre. It gradually forms a pearl. More precisely, a pearl is nothing but a foreign substance covered with several layers of nacre. 

Moreover, not all natural pearls are round in shape. Some also have uneven shapes. These are known as baroque pearls. Apart from this, the process of preparing cultured pearls is also similar to the process of natural pearls

However, in this, the farmer opens the oyster shell. He then makes a slit in the mantle tissue and inserts a small irritant. You can visit a real pearl harvesting site to see what does a pearl look like in an oyster. 

How do Oysters Create Different Color Pearls?

Do you wonder how do pearls get their color? You see, three primary factors contribute to the oyster pearl colors. They are:

  • The type of oyster
  • The number of layers of nacre
  • The thickness of layers of nacre

 All these trace elements are present within the aquatic environment of an oyster. Pearl harvesters can also influence the oyster’s pearl color by adding tissue from another oyster into the host oyster. 

This process is performed along with the shell nucleus. Now, the color of the pearl is decided by a mix of overtone, radiance, and base color. In simple terms, the thicker the layer of the nacre, the better the pearl color will be and the higher the brilliance it will show. 

Moreover, thinner nacre usually creates milky-appearing pearls that have lesser overtones. The luster of a pearl happens due to the layering of translucent nacre coats. Apart from this, cultured pearls are also dyed occasionally. Get in touch with an expert to know how colored pearls are made.

Also see: Everything you need to Know about Pearl Color

What Contributes to a Pearl’s Color?

Why are pearls different colors? In most cases, the color of the pearl is determined by the lip color of the oyster. You should meet an experienced pearl harvester to understand what color are oysters. 

For instance, cultured Tahitian pearls get their grey shade from cultured Tahitian black-lipped oysters. Apart from this, Conchiolin is an organic substance that holds the crystalline aragonite layers together. 

Some microscopic pigments are present within the Conchiolin layer, from which pearls can get their colors. After all, it is the substance that seals all these platelets together. So it was all about how do oysters make colored pearls. 

Does a Pearl’s Color Affect Its Cost?

The color of the pearl does influence its total cost. Although other factors like shape, luster, type, and size also impact the overall cost of the pearl. The color’s uniformity and consistency add to the gem’s value. 

Pearls that have deeper tones with attractive overtone shades are more expensive than lighter tones. So, which are the most expensive pearl colors so far? According to the experts, pink, blue, and golden pearl hues are rare and hence more expensive. 

There was a time when black pearls used to lead the race. But they became more affordable since they entered the category of cultured pearls. On the other hand, white pearls are more affordable than colored ones. 

But a natural and 100% pure pearl will enjoy a higher price than a cultured colored pearl. Presently, the South Sea pearls are the most expensive in the world. Moreover, they come in two colors; golden and white. 

FAQs on Pearls and their Colors

What is the rarest pearl color?

Natural blue pearls are the rarest in the world. Read more about Pearl Color in our complete guide.

Why do oysters make different-colored pearls?

The genetics of mollusks determine the color of the pearl.

Do oysters die when you take the pearl?

Yes, in most cases, oysters die after producing a pearl.

Where do black pearls come from?

Black-lipped oysters form the Tahitian black pearls.







Blue Goldstone

Blue Quartz



Clear Quartz




Indian Agate




Lapis Lazuli



Moss Agate

Mother of Pearl






Red Goldstone



Rose Quartz


Ruby Zoisite


Smoky Quartz



Tiger's Eye




Black Crystals

Blue Crystals

Brown Crystals

Clear/Colorless Crystals

Green Crystals

Grey Crystals

Indigo Crystals

Multi-Color Crystals

Orange Crystals

Pink Crystals

Purple Crystals

Red Crystals

Teal Crystals

White Crystals

Yellow Crystals

Crystals for January

Crystals for February

Crystals for March

Crystals for April

Crystals for May

Crystals for June

Crystals for July

Crystals for August

Crystals for September

Crystals for October

Crystals for November

Crystals for December

Crystals for Aries

Crystals for Taurus

Crystals for Gemini

Crystals for Cancer

Crystals for Leo

Crystals for Virgo

Crystals for Libra

Crystals for Scorpio

Crystals for Sagittarius

Crystals for Capricorn

Crystals for Aquarius

Crystals for Pisces

Crystal Bracelets

Crystal Earrings

Crystal Necklaces

Crystal Rings

Crystal Jewelry Sets

40+ Collections by Stone

Real Crystal Jewelry by Type

Personalized Jewelry

Elasaro Favorites

Become An Elasaro Ambassador

Partner with us and earn a fantastic 20% commission on each sale. Whether you share our store with your friends and family or you have a big community of followers, our program is open to everyone. You can proudly represent a brand that cares about its customers and provides them with the best experience.

Join the program

Recent Blog Posts

How are Crystals Formed: All About Natural Crystal Formations and Growth

Crystals are fascinating natural wonders that have captured human attention for centuries. While we’ve all seen or heard of crystals, not...

What do Pearls Symbolize: Pearl Meaning Guide

What is Pearl?  Prized by diverse cultures around the globe, pearls are the only gemstones formed by living creatures. This...

Opal Crystal Meaning, Healing Properties and Benefits

If you want to bring balance to your life, Opal crystal may be the perfect stone for you! Opals are...

Crystal Healing Guide: How to Use Crystals

In times of hardship, many of us find ways to feel grounded, soothe stress and calm anxiety. It is where...

Blue Goldstone: Meaning, Healing Properties and Benefits

Do you keep seeing Blue Goldstone everywhere but wonder what it’s all about? Blue Goldstone is a truly fascinating and...

Red Goldstone: Meaning, Healing Properties and Benefits

Red Goldstone is a man-made stone with several healing properties and benefits. Its vibrant deep red color makes it incredibly...

Clear Quartz: Meaning, Healing Properties and Benefits

Are you searching for a crystal to increase clarity, creativity, and harmony? If so, then Clear Quartz may be a...

Terahertz Stone Meaning, Healing Properties and Benefits

From ancient Sanskrit and early Egyptian hieroglyphs referencing its healing properties to the illustrations of it in Old Testament manuscripts...

Blue Quartz: Meaning, Healing Properties and Benefits

Blue Quartz is a Quartz Crystal with a unique blue coloration caused by inclusions of blue-colored minerals like Dumortierite or...

Amazonite Meaning: Healing Properties and Everyday Uses

Amazonite, also called the “hope stone,” has a soothing energy that can be used for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual...

Navkiran lives in Punjab state of India with her husband and an exceptionally perfect furry companion named RAIN. When she is not writing, you can find her busy cooking, decorating & organizing her home, or watching TV series.

Navkiran Dhaliwal is a pro blogger and copywriter with 10+ years of experience working with clients from all over the world. She has written for several renowned online magazines and newspapers.

Navkiran lives in Punjab state of India with her husband and an exceptionally perfect furry companion named RAIN. When she is not writing, you can find her busy cooking, decorating & organizing her home, or watching TV series.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.