When buying pearls, the customer is presented with terminology they are not always familiar with.
South Sea... What do all these mean? In order to make the best decision when buying pearls, it is important to know the differences between these types of pearls and why some are more expensive than others. Listed here are the different types of
cultured pearls and how they are cultured.
pearls are primarily cultured in the waters of Australia, the Philippines and
Indonesia. The distinction between South Sea pearls and
Tahitian or Black South
Sea pearls are the oyster they are cultivated in. The
South Sea pearls are cultured in the silver or gold-lipped pearl oyster and the color of the
pearls is usually white or silver colored, but they can also come in shades of yellow (golden) or blue-gray with pink or green overtones.
The gold-lipped pearl oyster used to culture these pearls (Pinctada maxima) is the world's largest pearl mother and is considered by experts to produce the best pearls in the world. The sizes of the pearls produced range in size from 10 to 20 millimeters, though pearls larger than 16 millimeters are rare. Their rarity and exceptional sizes make them highly prized. These are some of the largest and most expensive pearls available.
See our selection of South Sea Pearls
Sometimes referred to as Black South Sea
pearls, "Tahitian pearls" are cultured in areas stretching from the Cook Islands, eastward through Tahiti to the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia. They are grown in the black-lipped pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) found in the atolls of these areas. The colors produced vary widely from purple, green, black and shades from gray to cream and even white. The rarest and highly sought after color is "peacock green" - the greenish black color of a peacock feather.
Black Tahitian pearls are generally the same size as White
South Sea Pearls ranging in size from
8 to 21 millimeters.
See our selection of Black Tahitian Pearls
pearls are the most well known type of pearl and are cultured from the Akoya oyster (Pinctada fucata martensii).
Most Akoya pearls are cultured in China and Japan. The Akoya pearl oyster measures only six to nine centimeters across - less than half the size of Australia's silver-lipped pearl oyster. Smaller nuclei are implanted so the resulting pearls range from 2 to 10 millimeters in diameter. Considered the classic amongst cultured pearls
and known for their perfectly round shape and high luster,
Akoya pearls are produced in white and cream shades with silver or pink overtones.
See our selection of Akoya Pearls
Freshwater Pearls are
round, oval or sometimes irregularly shaped pearls that are grown in various species of freshwater mussel.
Typically their size ranges from 2mm to 12mm and the colors range from pink, bronze, lavender, to white.
Increasingly you will see black freshwater pearls, but black is not a natural
color of the freshwater pearl. The pearls are died to achieve this coloring.
Natural freshwater pearls occur in mussels for the same reason that saltwater pearls occur in oysters. Foreign material, usually a sharp object or parasite, enters a mussel and cannot be expelled. To reduce irritation, the mollusk coats the intruder with the same secretion it uses for shell-building, nacre.
To culture freshwater pearls, the shells of the mussels are slightly opened, small slits are cut into the mantle tissue and a small piece of live tissue from another mussel is inserted into those slits. The shape of the nucleus and its position in the mussel determines the shape of the cultured pearl. The shapes recovered include rounds, pears, eggs, drops, buttons, dome, and baroques. Most cultured freshwater pearls are composed entirely of nacre which leads to their high luster and quality.
The pearls are nursed for up to three years to achieve their luster and quality, a distinct trademark of our Cultured pearls and
See our selection of Freshwater Pearls