Raman spectroscopy is a powerful tool in identifying different calcium carbonate polymorphs. Here, the method is applied to cultured pearls from freshwater (genus Hyriopsis) and marine bivalve species (Pinctada maxima) as well as to shells of Diplodon chilensis patagonicus bivalves. Raman spectra for vaterite, detected for the first time in an adult shell, and amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) are discussed. Results for ACC are compared with those of synthetically produced ACC and with the Raman spectroscopic features of stable biogenic ACC from the crustacean Porcellio scaber. Decomposition of the most intense signal of all calcium carbonate polymorphs—the ν1 symmetric stretching mode of the carbonate ion—leads to the identification of two polymorphs within the ACC areas: a mixure of an amorphous and a crystalline fraction. The amorphous phase is characterised by a broad peak in the region of the lattice modes, which is composed of two distinct lattice modes with very high full-widths at half-maximum (FWHMs). The FWHMs of most of the crystalline fractions (in the range of 6.3–10.7 cm−1) are too high for well-crystallised materials and support reports of nanocrystalline calcium carbonate polymorph clusters in ACC. Crystallinity indices of different samples are calculated and found to be useful to describe roughly the state of crystallisation in the ACC areas. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.