Maybe it was the day your daddy gave you a beautifully simple pearl necklace as a child. Maybe it was when your mother handed down a family heirloom, presenting you with your great-grandmother’s gorgeous antique pearl earrings. Or maybe it was that time your significant other chose just the right pearl jewelry to convey what words could not. But whenever it was, at some point, you definitely caught it.

Caught what, you ask? Pearl fever, of course!

The symptoms are hard to miss. Do you absolutely love your pearl jewelry, so much so that you could happily spend long minutes just gazing at those lustrous globes, turning them this way and that in the light? Do you wear your pearl jewelry every possible chance you get, tweaking your outfits carefully so as to best showcase your pearls? Do you spend hours online, browsing through pearl jewelry for sale, and dreaming of adding it all to your own personal collection?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you’ve definitely got pearl fever.

So what’s a poor, sick girl to do? Well, for one thing, you can stock up on even more gorgeous pearl jewelry, so that you’re sure to have something to wear for any occasion. But what if you could somehow plan your summer vacation around your love of pearls? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

It’s possible. You’ve heard of pearl diving, of course. Brave souls who risked their lives in the depths of faraway, exotic oceans years and years ago, just to bring back more of those perfect, exquisite orbs.

But did you know that you can dive for pearls yourself, right here in America?

It’s true. There are many rivers and lakes right here in the USA where you can find mussels snuggled in their beds – and inside any of them, a gorgeous freshwater pearl may be hiding. Now, before you jump into your nearest lake, you should take some time to find the spots most likely to contain pearls. Out of all the rivers and lakes in the entire country, the Ohio River and the Tennessee River are the most famous for their pearls. In fact, the state gem of Tennessee is the pearl! But from Texas lakes to the Minnesota River, and every place in between, anywhere you can find mollusks, it’s possible to find a pearl.

Your first step is to determine which lake or river closest to you (or to your vacation spot) contains mollusks. You can look this information up on your state’s Parks and Wildlife website. This site should also inform you of any requirements the state may have regarding permits or licenses necessary to harvest mussels. You may need to be able to distinguish between different types of mollusks, because some are endangered and shouldn’t be touched, while others can be gathered without a problem.

Once you’ve decided on a location, and made sure you’ve complied with all regulations, it’s time to dive for pearls! Diving may not be the right word, however – you can simply wade through the shallow areas of your chosen body of water looking for mussels.

Once you find some, pry them open with a knife, and take a peek inside. You might just be rewarded with the radiance of a shimmering pearl!

Most natural American freshwater pearls are baroque; in other words, they’re not round. And most pearls that you find in a local lake or river will not be worth very much money. But for a true pearl lover, those things don’t matter. It’s the thrill of the hunt, and the natural, wild beauty of the pearls, that make it all worthwhile.