Cultured Pearls vs. Real Pearls

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.

As a reference point, 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.

Difference Between Cultured Pearls & Natural Pearls

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.

Where it gets confusing, is some traditional jewelers will refer to freshwater pearls as "cultured pearls"

and Akoya pearls  as "saltwater pearls" or "real pearls".

It's a confusing to say the least. Either they don't know any better or they're trying to push you to the more expensive pearl.

I firmly believe when discussing pearls, the buyer and seller should always use the exact pearl type and avoid general terms like "cultured pearls".

The 4 Main Types of Cultured Pearls...

Here is a quick run down on the 4 main types of cultured pearls you'll encounter while pearl shopping.

AKOYA PEARLS:

Certified Hanadama Pearl Necklace

When most people think about white pearls they are thinking about Akoya pearls- the are the classic white pearls. They are grown in saltwater off the coast of Japan.

Mikimoto and Tiffany's sells primarily cultured Akoya pearls.

If you want classic white, round pearls with high luster, BUY AKOYA PEARLS.


FRESHWATER PEARLS:
fancy color Freshwater Pearls

If someone says they are offering "cultured pearls" but doesn't tell you a type of pearl, 9/10 times they are cultured freshwater pearls.

These pearls come in white, peach, lavender, and recently some very EXCITING EXOTIC COLORS.

Freshwater pearls used to be very low quality, but today freshwater pearl farmers are producing affordable pearls that rival the very best saltwater pearls.

My GEM GRADE FRESHWATER PEARLS are exceptional quality at about 1/3 the price of Akoya pearls.

BLACK TAHITIAN PEARLS:
peacock Tahitian Pearls

These are the only naturally "black" pearls. It's important to understand that the term "black" is used to describe dark colored pearls, including silver, gray, green, blue & purples -- not necessarily a true black.

They are grown in saltwater "atolls"off French Polynesia and Fiji. They aren't actually black but instead they are dark shades of gray, green, blue and purple.

They are large exotic pearls that just 20 years ago would have sold for $100,000/strand. Today with increased production the same strand can be purchased from me for $3000.

Related Blog Post:
3 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE BUYING TAHITIAN PEARLS

WHITE & GOLD SOUTH SEA PEARLS:
Golden South Sea Pearl Necklaces

These are the "QUEEN of Gems" and the rarest of all cultured pearls. They are grown in saltwater off Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

These are BIG white or golden pearls, with deep silky luster. Those huge pearls that Barbara bush, Nancy Pelosi or Oprah are famous for wearing - they're South Sea pearls.

The ultimate "power pearls". A strand of South Sea pearls tells the world you've made it.

If you want the most valuable pearls money can buy, choose SOUTH SEA PEARLS.

 

Buy The Perfect Strand of Cultured Pearls

So... To reiterate, you want to buy cultured pearls.

Your job is to figure out which kind of cultured pearls are right for you. For a classic white strand of pearls, I suggest the following:

The Perfect Strand of Pearls

Fine Cultured Akoya Pearls

The perfect strand of pearls... Is it possible?


Perfectly round, beautifully matched, with a mirror like luster – Japanese cultured Akoya pearls can’t be matched for quality and high-end appeal. This is the classic cultured pearl necklace.  

3 Responses

Elise barwick
Elise barwick

August 18, 2019

I have a pearl necklace given to me in 1961 from the company felco. Will it be a real cultured pearl necklace.

Frances
Frances

May 22, 2019

The natural pearl is not perfectly round. I have a set of pearl earring and ring, the pearls are not perfectly round and the colors are light smoky bluish, and light yellowish. They are not perfectly round as opposed to the cultured pearls.

Laura Wolseth
Laura Wolseth

May 11, 2019

I am looking for 4-6 pearls without holes. I need to repair a bracelet that my grandmother gave me. The size is between 6ss and 9ss, so they r quite small. So, these r between 2.0mm and 2.65 mm. Thank u so much

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