How exactly does June's birthstone, pearl, form in nature? Pearls are formed when a tiny bit of sand or material gets trapped inside an oyster. The oyster produces a “nacre” as a defense mechanism that coats the intruder, layer after layer. A pearl is formed naturally in only 1 in every 10,000 oysters. Freshwater pearls can take between 1 and 6 years to form; whereas saltwater may take between 5 and 20 years. The longer a pearl stays in the shell, the more nacre that forms and the larger the pearl. Freshwater pearls can grow to be just as big as saltwater pearls, but they take less time to develop because the layers of nacre are not as compact as those surrounding the saltwater pearl.
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