Although it is the most common type of pearl produced today, most freshwater pearl information may be little known to the general public. Their unique shapes and wide variety of colours combined with their attractive prices and charming character, have made them a favourite amongst jewellery designers, shoppers, and pearl connoisseurs alike. They characteristically range in shape from very baroque to nearly round.
Best known for their whimsical shapes and wide variety of sizes and colours, the character of a freshwater pearl is found in its distinctive surface texture and the warmth of its lustre. 

Because they offer a wider diversity of colours, shapes, and sizes than any other type of pearl, freshwater pearls are often used in fanciful designer jewellery. In addition to the traditional white body colour, these pearls come in a rainbow of natural pastel colours such as lavender, pink, and every shade in between. Most freshwater pearl information notes their varied shapes, including potato-shaped and stick pearls, rice-shaped and button pearls, coin-shaped and drop pearls, off-round and round pearls. 

Freshwater pearls are produced by Hyriopsis cumingi (triangle shell) and Hyriopsis schlegeli (Biwa shell) commercially in China, and other bivalve mussels that live in lakes, riverbeds, and creek bottoms in Japan (Biwa pearls and Lake Kasumigaura pearls), as well the United States (Mississippi River Basin). Although most freshwater pearl information lists several areas of the world as home to pearl-producing mussels, the global freshwater market is overwhelmingly dominated by Chinese pearl farms, which account for nearly all of the freshwater pearls sold today. 

At freshwater pearl farms, each mussel is surgically implanted with 24 to 32 tiny pieces of mantle tissue, a process known as nucleation. Once they have been nucleated, the mussels protect their flesh from the irritants by secreting nacre (pronounced NAY-ker), the calcium-carbonate compound known more commonly as mother-of-pearl. Over the course of 2 to 7 years, the mussels deposit layer upon layer of nacre around the growing gems, generally producing more than two dozen pearls densely clustered on the inside of its mantle tissue.  However, a single freshwater pearl mussel is capable of producing up to 50 pearls at a time (although current production limits each shell to 24-32 pearls). 

During the harvest, the millions of pearls are sorted carefully and matched for size, shape, colour, and quality.