These pearls are gathered from freshwater lake and river mollusks. Most Freshwater pearls come from China and they can be mostly round to off-round or rice-shaped to baroque. The size of the pearl is 1cm x 1cm. They look similar to Akoya pearls but are the perfect gift when on a budget. They might be slightly less symmetrical smaller or not as easily matched but these minor differences provide a major value for the price. Pearls are produced naturally in the body of salt and freshwater mollusks such as oysters and mussels. When these animals sense an irritant such as a grain of sand they produce a soft coating of calcium carbonate substance around it. The result is a pearl. Because perfectly round naturally produced pearls are so rare a process known as cultivation was developed by Kokichi Mikimoto in the early 1900s. A small bead of polished shell the nucleus is used as an irritant and delicately inserted into the mantle of a mollusk. It takes approximately 20-24 months of intensive husbandry to cultivate a saltwater pearl and somewhat less time to cultivate freshwater pearls. The harvest usually takes place during the months of June and September.