The pearls I use in my jewelry are cultured freshwater and saltwater pearls. Cultured freshwater pearls are created by freshwater mussels that are raised in ponds. Today, nearly all freshwater pearls are cultivated in China using the triangle sail mussel (Hyriopsis cumingii). The pearls form around small pieces of tissue that have been surgically grafted into the mussel. Between 24–32 pearls can be produced per mussel. It takes approximately 2 years for the mussel to produce a 9mm pearl. The largest and most famous market for freshwater pearls is the market near Zhuji, China. I travel to Zhuji on a regular basis and hand-select my pearls from my suppliers who buy directly from the producers. This allows me to purchase the highest quality pearls at the lowest possible cost.