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The Wide World of Pearls, Our 89th Issue: Your Quick Guide to Pearl Types

 

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Guide to Pearl Types

 

 

Your Quick Guide To Pearl Types

There are numerous options today when shopping for pearl jewelry - so much so that it can quickly get confusing to the average pearl shopper new to this field of niche gems. 
 
In this post, we'll quickly run through each of the main 4 pearl types: what they look like, their most common characteristics, pricing ranges and your buying options. By the time you're done, you'll have all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision before buying your pearls. 

Guide to Pearl Types: Akoya Pearls

 

 

Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are perfectly round, sparkling and lustrous white pearls that are sure to amaze. Akoya pearls are the classic white pearls that are farmed in Japanese and Chinese ocean waters, have the highest luster and has the greatest shine of all cultured pearls.

Any time you see a traditional single-strand pearl necklace, it's most likely strung with Akoya cultured pearls. Akoya pearls have been cultured since the early 20th century, making it affordable for many women. 

 

Akoya Pearl Fast Facts

Pearl Sizes . . . . . Akoya pearls range in size from 2.0-3.0mm up through 9.0-9.5mm, and very rarely, 9.5-10.0mm.

 

Pearl Colors . . . . . Traditional Akoya pearl colors are most famously white, but also include natural Silvery-Blue and even Golden hues.

 

Common Treatments . . . . . Dyed black Akoya pearls are also very common, and feature a very distinct Midnight Blue-Black color.

 

Pearl Shapes . . . . . The most valuable and traditional Akoya pearl shape is a true, perfect Round, but free form Baroque shapes are also available.

 

Price Range . . . . . Prices range from $75 to the high thousands, depending on the jewelry type, size and quality of the pearls.

 

Good To Know . . . . . The BEST Akoya pearls are known as “Hanadama” Akoya which in Japanese means “Flower Pearls”.

 

Click Here to Deep Dive Into Akoya Pearls

 

Guide to Pearl Types: Tahitian Pearls 

 

Tahitian Pearls

Black Tahitian pearls are vibrant, rare black pearls from French Polynesia, unmistakable and simply unforgettable. Tahitians, once upon a time, were so rare that they were considered the "Pearl of Queens".

They are highly sought after because of their larger size, brilliant luster, and round shapes. Tahitian Pearls come from the warm waters of the South Sea and are grown in a Black-Lipped oyster.

 

Tahitian Pearl Fast Facts

Pearl Sizes . . . . . Tahitian pearls range in size from 8.0-9.0mm up through 15.0-16.0mm, with the average sizes ranging from 9.0-10.0mm through 12.0-13.0mm. Sizes over 15.0mm are RARE, and very expensive.

 

Pearl Colors . . . . . The Tahitian pearl oyster, pinctada margaritifera, also known as the “Black Lip” oyster produces a variety of naturally colored black pearls, most typically shades of pastel Dove Greys to darker Charcoal Greys. Their more famous colors like Peacock, Green, Aubergine, etc., are called Overtones and are an iridescent, secondary color that appears to shimmer over the main grey body colors.

 

Common Treatments . . . . . Black Tahitian pearls are 99% of the time naturally colored with no treatments of any kind other than a gentle washing and buffing after harvest.

 

Pearl Shapes . . . . . Perfectly round Tahitian pearls are the most valued and rare. Free-form baroque, circled baroque and smooth baroque shapes that are symmetrical comprise the vast majority of shapes in each yearly pearl harvest.

 

Price Range . . . . . Prices range from $80 to the high thousands, depending on the jewelry type, size and quality of the pearls.

 

Good To Know . . . . . Cultured Tahitian pearls MUST have a 0.8mm MINIMUM nacre thickness in order to qualify for export from Tahiti to the larger pearl jewelry market.

 

Click Here to Deep Dive Into Tahitian Pearls

 

Guide to Pearl Types: White and Golden South Sea Pearls 

 

White & Golden South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls are large and luminous White and Golden pearls. Being the most rare and sought after, South Sea pearls are known for their incredible size and beautiful satin luster.

South Sea pearls are saltwater pearls that are cultivated from the oyster, found centering on Northern Australia and South-East Asia, including Myanmar and Indonesia.

 

South Sea Pearl Fast Facts

Pearl Sizes . . . . . South Sea pearls are generally the largest cultured pearl type. Ranging in size from 8.0-9.0mm up through 20.0mm, with the average sizes ranging from 9.0-10.0mm through 14.0-15.0mm. Sizes over 15.0mm are RARE, and very expensive.

 

Pearl Colors . . . . . The South Sea pearl oyster, Pinctada can be either “Silver-lipped” or “Gold-lipped” varieties, and produces natural shades of White and Gold respectively.

 

Common Treatments . . . . . 99% of all South Sea pearls undergo NO treatment of any kind other than a gentle washing and buffing after harvest.

 

Pearl Shapes . . . . . South Sea pearls that are perfectly round are the most valuable and rare. Free form baroque, circled baroque and smooth baroque shapes that are symmetrical comprise the vast majority of shapes in each yearly pearl harvest.

 

Price Range . . . . . Prices range from $200 to the tens of thousands, depending on the jewelry type, size and quality of the pearls.

 

Good To Know . . . . . Cultured South Sea pearls have the thickest nacre layers of all saltwater cultured pearl types, averaging around 2.0-4.0mm thick around the pearl’s bead nucleus. These extremely thick nacre layers are responsible for the South Sea pearl’s trademark “satiny” luster that imparts a subtle glow (rather than the “hard shine” of the Japanese Akoya, for example).

 

Click Here to Deep Dive Into South Sea Pearls

 

Guide to Pearl Types: Freshwater Pearls 

 

Freshwater Pearls

Pearls for the fashion forward. Originally marketed as the lesser quality and inexpensive alternatives to Akoya pearls, Freshwater pearls have now emerged as rivals to Akoya pearls in both quality and value.

Since the 1990s, a new class of round and lustrous freshwater pearls have emerged giving buyers the widest range of options in size, shape and color. Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels and are primarily produced in China.

 

Freshwater Pearl Fast Facts

Pearl Sizes . . . . . Freshwater pearls range in size from 2.0-3.0mm up through 11.0-12.0mm, with new experimental varieties attaining sizes of 14.0-15.0mm!

 

Pearl Colors . . . . . The Freshwater pearl mussel produces a variety of natural colors, most typically pastel shades of pink, peach, lavender and white.

 

Common Treatments . . . . . Dyed black Freshwater pearls are commonly referred to as Peacock due to their highly iridescent blue-green and violet hues. Other dyed Freshwater pearl colors include red, gold, green, purple, blue and pink.

 

Pearl Shapes . . . . . The most valuable Freshwater pearl shape is as close to a true round as possible, but symmetrical and free form Baroque shapes are also widely available.

 

Price Range . . . . . Prices range from $30 to the high thousands, depending on the jewelry type, size and quality of the pearls.

 

Good To Know . . . . . MOST cultured Freshwater pearls are “tissue-nucleated” meaning that a small, 1.0mm square piece of donor mantle tissue is used as the nuclei to begin pearl cultivation inside the mussel. As the pearl grows, the donor tissue degrades, leaving a pearl that is nearly 100% solid crystalline nacre. This means that Freshwater pearls are VERY durable!

 

Click Here to Deep Dive Into Freshwater Pearls

 

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Tahitian Pearl and Diamond Ivine Pendant 

 

 

Black Tahitian Pearl & Diamond Ivine Pendant

This 11mm Tahitian South Sea pearl pendant is made with a gorgeous AAA quality pearl with Very High luster (please see our pearl grading section for more information). All Tahitian South Sea pearls are imported directly from the shores of Tahiti.
 
This pearl pendant is comprised of approximately .167 carats of SI-quality diamonds and is made of 1.737 grams of the highest quality 14K gold. All of our pearl pendants are made on site, and our experienced staff of GIA certified specialists pay careful attention to all details in order to create a truly beautiful pearl pendant.
 
The pearl pendant comes in a beautiful jewelry gift box. Please view the options below to customize your pearl pendant.


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