Historically, divers would dive deep into the ocean hoping to find oysters bearing a natural pearl. Today, the majority of pearls are cultivated. Pearl cultivation is a time-consuming process taking anywhere from two to six years.
Of the millions of oysters that are seeded with a nucleus, 50% of them will reject the nuclei. Of the 50% that do create pearls, only about 5% of the pearls produced are of substantial quality for top jewelry makers to use. Many will not even produce pearls of marketable quality.