Pearls form in oysters when a foreign substance lodges itself between the mantle and the shell. If this does not occur there will be no pearl.
Mollusks form pearls as a sort of defense mechanism. When a grain of sand or some other object enters the shell, a mollusk will form a pearl so that irritation or injury does not occur. The oyster or clam will layer the same substance that it uses to make its shell around the intruding object, and after a time, a pearl is formed.
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