Colors generally range from cream, to silver-white (most common), to black (most rare). But there are also color overtones reflected across a pearl's surface. In fact, the color of a pearl more often than not is a meld of its body color and its overtone. A pearl with a "rose overtone" will describe a white pearl with a rose colored hue.
Akoya pearls are the classic white pearls with overtones of rose, cream and silver. Black dyed Akoya pearls have become very popular in the last 10 years and offer a unique exotic look.
Freshwater pearls produce the widest array of colors and shapes. There are dozens of naturally occurring colors found in freshwater pearls. The most common colors seen today are lavender, white, peach/pink and color(dyed). Above are the 4 most common colors seen on the retail market today but by no means illustrate the full spectrum of possible colors.
South Sea cultured pearls fall into two categories "White South Sea Pearls" or "Golden South Sea Pearls". White South Sea pearls have a white body color with overtones of rose and silver that give them a very silky appearance. Golden South Sea pearls will vary from very light champagne to rich golden body colors, with darker colors demanding a higher price.
Tahitian pearls are the only naturally dark cultured pearls, although actual black pearls are rare. Most often Tahitian pearls have body colors of silver, grey and green with overtones ranging from pink to dark green.
Which color pearl should I purchase?Today, most pearls sold are cultured, as opposed to natural, and most pearls receive some sort of treatment. The treatments can be simple polishing, or bleaching and dyeing.
Color does not affect the quality of a pearl, but does affect the perceived beauty of the pearl according to the individual taste. Some colors have become more popular than others in particular markets. For example, white pearls are the most popular in America, while silver are more sought after in Asia.
A general guideline is skin tone. Many women with fair or light colored skin feel rose overtones look best, while women with dark skin or tan easily find black or cream overtones look best.
What color you choose should be based on the personal preference of the person who will wear the pearls.