PACIFIC PEARLS FRESHWATER PEARLS - ANOTHER PORT OF CALL Continuing my journey gathering information on pearls, my children’s passion and chosen pursuit and, vicariously, mine, it surprised me that Scotland was a major freshwater pearl producer in medieval times. The Holarctic freshwater pearl mussel was the mainstay of the pearl jewelry industry in the Middle Ages. The species is now endangered.

Travel across oceans to Japan, the country that pioneered the cultivation of whole freshwater pearls, using the Biwa pearly mussel (Hyriopsis schlegeli). The industry is virtually non-existent in Japan these days. The United States is noted for being the only country outside Asia to produce freshwater pearls, on a farm in Tennessee, which is now merely a tourist attraction.