Plan on shopping for pearls? Here is some information on the wide selection of pearls one can choose from the market today. Learn the types, colors, shapes, and sizes to purchase the right pearl for you.

What is a cultured pearl? Click Here!

Pearl inside an oyster
Cultured pearls are what allow the demand of pearls in the jewelry marketplace to keep running, they keep a delicate balance between natural production and mass production. Since Natural pearls are so hard to come by nowadays cultured pearls have been perfected to mimic the process of a natural pearl in a much faster pace. This process is also known as “cultivation” created by Kokichi Mikimoto in the early 1900s. The pearl is produced by embedding a small bead into an oyster and placing it underwater where the oyster will gradually coat the bead with many layers of natural minerals and proteins (also known as nacre). The longer left in the oyster the more the nacre can be built, which is what gives the pearls their beautiful luster and color; making them more valuable and rare. On average it takes about 20-24 months of intense cultivation for a saltwater pearl to produce and somewhat less time for a freshwater pearl. There are four types of pearls that are most commonly known and they are the Akoya pearl, South Sea pearl, Tahitian pearl, and the Freshwater pearls.

Pearl Types. Click Here!

Pearl TypesAkoya Pearls

The Akoya pearls are classic original cultured pearls produced from saltwater mollusk, that are located in Japan and China. They are known for being relatively small, perfectly round and bright. Producing the most consistently round pearls with very high luster and with slight imperfection. When looking for a quality item, the thicker the nacre of the pearl, the more valuable and beautiful it will be. The Akoya pearl is actually one of the only pearls that can be grown as small as a 1.0 mm and can reach to 10.0 mm, leaving the average sizes that you may find ranging from 6.5 mm to 8.5 mm. Their colors range from green, silver, pink, blue and gold. And of course white being the most popular and traditional hue out there. The Akoya pearls can be easily mistaken for Freshwater pearls but they are actually more valuable and rare.

South Sea Pearls

The South Sea pearls are famous for their large sizes and luminous luster, making them the most valuable pearl produced in the world. Due to the high cost of producing the south sea pearls they remain the costliest on the market today. They are primarily grown in western Australia, Philippines, and Indonesia. The oyster that produces the South Sea pearl is considerably large; some even compare the shell size to a dinner plate. This allows it to grow distinctively large pearls that can begin to range from 8.0 mm to 9.0 mm and can grow as large as 21.0 mm, leaving the average sizes ranging from 10.0 mm to 15.0 mm. The South Sea pearl has more of a soft glow rather than a high gloss shine like the other pearls; and their colors are either white or black with a slight silver overtone.

Tahitian Pearls

The Tahitian pearls are one of the most colorful pearls in the world today; known as the black beauties. Although they are referred to as “black” they are actually just a shade of gray, silver, and charcoal that give off a pure illusion of the black color. The Tahitian pearls are more affordable today than they have been in recent history, because the oyster that is used to produce them is not as rare as it use to be but since the process of producing the Tahitian pearls is still a very sensitive and cultivating process, the pearl is very valuable and expensive. One can find these beauties in warm tropical waters of french Polynesia (also known as Tahiti). This oyster can actually live up to 30 years in the wild allowing it to build up many layers of natural minerals and proteins called nacre. Their sizes range from 8.0 mm up to 17.0 mm and can sometimes be found larger than that. Their body colors range from a light dove gray to a very dark charcoal grey, and a jet black color, while their famous overtones include peacock color and a blue-green color.

Freshwater Pearls

The Freshwater pearls are lustrous, colorful, durable, and most importantly wallet friendly. They make a big impression while still remaining in an affordable budget; the Freshwater pearls are actually often confused with the Akoya pearls when they are first looked at but once you look closely you will notice the difference. One can find these pearls in China where the pearl farms have been perfected to all new levels, but since the 19th century United States has also grown a substantial source of Freshwater pearls. Before they perfected the production of Freshwater pearls their shape were a very asymmetrical baroque shape, but now one can also find them in a very sleek round shape. Although they are different from their saltwater friends they still have really good qualities to them, like they are extremely durable, can naturally resist chipping, and degeneration. Their body colors can range from natural pastel shades of lavender, pink, peach, silver, and white. They can also be grown from a size 6.0 mm to 11.0 mm, and can sometimes be found larger.

Pearl Color. Click Here!

Pearl ColorPearl Color

Pearl Shape. Click Here!

Pearl Shapes

Pearl Size. Click Here!

Pearl Size

Necklace length chart. Click Here!

necklace length chart

Pearl Care. Click Here!

Pearl care can be a task on its own, one needs to consider a lot before wearing such a precious piece of jewelry. Because the pearl is made up of mostly natural materials and protein; natural oils actually keep pearls lustrous. That being said acids and other types of chemicals are really harmful to the pearl. Keep away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup, and hairspray; it is advised that the pearl jewelry should be put on last and for it to be the first thing to take off once arriving home. Before storing one should wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separately to avoid scratches.