Originally, pearls were grown inside oysters without the aid of man. By the 17th century, virtually all of the natural pearl oyster population was depleted, thus making pearls only accessible to the rich and royalty.
In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto successfully cultivated the world's first perfectly round "cultured pearl". Since then, cultivated pearls have become the norm.
Freshwater Cultured Pearls are farmed in freshwater lakes and grown in mussels. The freshwater pearls can vary from baroque, "irregular" and unique in shape to perfectly round, all within one shell. In addition to the beautiful colors that nature creates on her own, freshwater pearl cultivators have enhanced the spectrum of colored pearls by dying them - brown, pink, green, purple and black. This permanent dye adds another fun fashion element to an otherwise formal look.