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A number of years ago, when our oldest was just a little tyke, a Chinese man we knew gave my wife a string of pearls as a gift. Anyway, the pearls he gave her were different from the ones we might find in a jewelry store; they were natural, not cultivated.

Now, the most common kind of pearl found in jewelry stores are those cultivated by oyster farmers. According to one online source, cultured pearls are often "pre-formed, and tend to follow the shape of the implanted bead." Once the oyster farmer inserts the pre-formed beads into the oyster, the oyster does its thing to make the pearl around bead. After about six months, the farmers harvest the pearls, and sell them to jewelers to shape and polish.

But, the pearls given to my wife were different. They we natural and harvested from the bottom of the sea floor. They weren’t perfectly round, nor were they highly prized as some natural pearls can be.

Still, here’s what’s neat: someone — probably living near the South China sea — dove into the water and gathered hundreds and hundreds of oysters in order to string together just a few pearls, who later sold them to the Chinese man, who then gifted them to my wife.

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