Hi, Kevin here…
Ok This one drives me crazy...
People call me all the time and say:
"I don't want cultured pearls, I want REAL pearls".
So, here's the deal...
Apart from a very small collectors market in natural (wild pearls), all pearls bought and sold on the retail market are cultured pearls.
(a strand of natural pearls could sell for $1.0 million+)
Unless you're the Prince of Monaco, cultured pearls are what you're looking for.
Cultured pearls are real pearls grown inside real oysters at pearl farms in Japan, Australia, Indonesia, China and many more locations.
Natural/Wild Pearls are typically found by shellfish harvesters purely by accident. You might have to open 10,000 oysters to find a single decent quality natural pearl.
It's this rarity that gives them their high price tag, not necessarily their beauty.
Now where it get's confusing is some jewelers will refer to cultured freshwater pearls as just "cultured pearls"
and they will refer to cultured Akoya pearls as "saltwater pearls" or "real pearls".
It's confusing and they know it. In fact, they do it on purpose.
They're trying to sell you a more expensive pearl (the Akoya).
And that's not to say that Akoya pearls are not a great choice. They're perfectly round and have incredible luster -- they're THE classic white pearl.
But I believe in giving you honest information, so you can make your own informed decision.
The 4 Main Types of Cultured Pearls...
Here is a quick run down on the 4 main types of cultured pearlsyou'll encounter while pearl shopping.
1. Akoya Pearls: