A Pearl's life begins as a foreign body embedded within a mollusk's shell. The animal's defense against the foreign body is to form a protective layer of nacre around the intruder. The culturing process simply entails planting a "seed" within the mollusk, normally either a plastic bead or a small piece of shell, nature takes its course and a new pearl is born. Cultured freshwater pearls look amazing all on their own, and also pair fabulously with Swarovski or Preciosa Crystal beads. Standard strand length for pearls is 16 inches, unless otherwise stated. String them on silk beading cord and always either knot in-between each pearl or use bead bumpers to protect them from scratching. Freshwater pearls are known for their small holes, so use a pearl reamer if you require a larger hole size. Always remove pearls from original strand. Pearls displaying a soft peach, cream, mauve or lavender tone are typically a natural color. White pearls are often bleached, and any other color is usually obtained through a dying process. Be certain to check for color fastness, and rinse before wearing. Freshwater pearls are a natural material and variations in size, shade, and shape are to be expected.