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Recently, techniques have been developed to culture pearls in freshwater mollusks. These pearls are sometimes called "Biwa pearls" after the lake in Japan where they were first developed, but today that name should only be used for cultured pearls from Lake Biwa.

Freshwater cultured pearls are cultivated around the world, including Tennessee, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some freshwater cultured pearls are spheres that are used like other round pearls, and some are buttons used to accent jewelry. Still others are blister shapes called Mabé, which are often used in earrings and other pieces with closed backs.

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