Pearl Color Guide

The world of pearls is filled with color... From classic white, yellow, golden, pink, blue to black and almost every shade in between. There's more to pearls than Grandma's old white strand of pearls. While the use of treatments and dyes allow for any color in the rainbow, this article will primarily deal with naturally occurring pearl colors.

Use the Table of Contents to read about your favorite pearl colors, or go through the entire rainbow ...


White Pearl Types

White pearls are easily the most famous of all the pearl colors, bar none. White is considered the most classic and versatile, and for centuries has been a favorite of women and brides.

Meaning of White Pearls:  White pearls have had many special meanings throughout history. They’ve been used primarily to symbolize innocence, purity, faith, protection and peace.

There are 3 types of naturally colored White pearls. They are:

Scroll below to check out some fast facts about each of these pearl types and their special meanings.

Pearl Colors: White Akoya Pearls

White Akoya Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada fucata martensii, saltwater oyster

Origin: Japan, China and Vietnam

Body Color: Cool white with greenish to blue undertones

Overtones: Rose (hint of pink), Silver (bright white) and Cream (touch of warm yellow)

Sizes: White Akoya pearls can be as tiny as 1.0 mm seed pearls up to 10.0 mm at their largest.


White Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color: Usually a warm white, sometimes a “cool” white.

Overtones: Rose (hint of pink), Silver (bright white) and Cream (touch of warm yellow)

Sizes: White Freshwater pearls can be as tiny as 1.0 mm seed pearls up to 12.0 mm, and even larger.

Pearl Colors: White Freshwater Pearls

Pearl Colors: White South Sea Pearls

White South Sea

Oyster Type: Pinctada maxima, silver-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: Australia, Indonesia and the Philippine Islands

Body Color: Most often, White South Sea pearls feature a bright, cool white body color

Overtones: Rose (hint of pink, very rare), Silver (bright white, most common) and Cream (touch of warm yellow, typically seen in pearls from Indonesia)

Sizes: White South Sea pearls range in size from 8.0 – 9.0 mm up through 16.0 – 17.0 mm and even up to 20.0 mm giants.



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Black Pearls

Black pearls are the second most popular pearl color for pearl lovers. Black pearls conjure up thoughts of swashbuckling pirates, tropical islands and of course, buried treasure. Black is considered to be mysterious, chic, striking and very versatile, making them a modern staple for any jewelry box.

Meaning of Black Pearls: Black pearls have been an important symbol throughout history. They are used to symbolize mystery, allure, protection, independence, wealth, strength and control.

There are 3 types of Black pearls. They are:

  • Black Akoya
  • Black Tahitian
  • Black Freshwater

Scroll below to check out some fast facts about each of these pearl types.

Pearl Colors: Black Akoya Pearls

Black Akoya Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada fucata martensii, saltwater oyster

Origin: Japan, China and Vietnam

Body Color: Jet Black, Color-Treated / Dyed

Overtones: Blue-Black to Green-Black

Sizes: Color-treated Black Akoya pearls can be as small as 4.0 mm seed pearls up through 8.0 mm at their largest.


Black Tahitian Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada margaritifera, black-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: French Polynesia Islands

Body Color: Ranges from pastel silver gray to a variety of dark charcoal grays to rarely pure blacks.

Overtones: The most common overtones are peacock, green, blue-green and silver/steel.

Sizes: Tahitian pearls range in size from 7.0 – 7.0 mm up through 15.0 – 16.0 mm and larger.

Pearl Colors: Black Tahitian Pearls

Pearl Colors: Black Freshwater Pearls

Black Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color: Usually a dark “Denim” blue color or a near jet black. The result of color-treatment, usually dye.  

Overtones: Multi-colored and iridescent “peacock”, green, blue-green, violet and copper. Some strands may be a uniform blue-green over

Sizes: Black Freshwater pearls can be as tiny as 1.0 mm seed pearls up to 10.0 mm, and even larger.


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Blue Pearls

Naturally colored blue pearls are the rarest pearl colors in the world (with one or two exceptions, which we will get to below). The color has existed in pearls for decades, but only recently have naturally colored blue pearls gained popularity in the modern pearl jewelry markets.

Meaning of Blue Pearls: The color Blue has always stood for calm, serenity, peace, integrity, loyalty, confidence and intuition.  

There are 3 types of Blue pearls. They are:

  • Blue Akoya
  • Silver-Blue White South Sea
  • Blue-Overtone Tahitians

Keep going to check out some must know facts about each of these stunning and unique pearls.

Pearl Colors: Blue Akoya Pearls

Blue Akoya Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada fucata martensii, saltwater oyster

Origin: Japan and Vietnam

Body Color: Ranges from light Gray-Blue to deeper Sky Blue hues

Overtones: Bright Green, Aquamarine, Rose, Gold and Violet

Sizes: Blue Akoya pearls can be tiny 4.0 mm seed pearls up through 10.0 mm at their largest.


Silver-Blue White South Sea

Oyster Type: Pinctada maxima, silver-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: Australia

Body Color: Light Silver-Gray to deeper Sky Blue colors

Overtones: Silver, Blue, Aquamarine and rarely, Rose

Sizes: Silver-Blue White South Sea pearls can range from 8.0 – 9.0 mm up through 16.0 – 17.0 mm and larger.

Pearl Colors: Blue South Sea Pearls

Pearl Colors: Blue Overtone Tahitian Pearls

Blue Overtone Tahitian Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada margaritifera, black-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: French Polynesia Islands

Body Color: Can be anything from light silver to charcoal gray, and rarely pure black.

Overtones: Teal, Blue-Green, Midnight Blue, Violet

Sizes: Tahitian pearls run from 8.0 mm up through 15.0 – 16.0 mm and even larger.


Gold Pearls

One of the largest and rarest pearls found around the world is Gold in color. They are Golden South Sea pearls, cultured in the Philippine Islands. Golden South Sea pearls have only been available to pearl lovers since the late 1970s, and are known as the “Rolls Royce” of cultured pearls. Lesser known, but still beautiful in their own right are naturally-colored Golden Akoya pearls, primarily from Vietnam.

Meaning of Gold Pearls: Golden pearls symbolize wealth, prosperity, good health, success, wisdom and longevity.

There are 2 types of Gold pearls. They are:

  • Golden South Sea
  • Golden Akoya

Keep going to check out some must know facts about each of these rare pearl types.

Pearl Colors: Golden South Sea Pearls

Golden South Sea Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada maxima, gold-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: Philippine Islands, Indonesia and Australia

Body Color:10K, 14K, 18K, 22K and 24K Golden colors

Overtones: Neutral Gold, Silver, Rose and Bronze/Green

Sizes: Golden South Sea pearls can range from 8.0 – 9.0 mm up through 16.0 – 17.0 mm and larger.

Did you know:A Golden pearl is often depicted in Chinese folklore in the dragon's mouth or claws. The Chinese believe the dragon is bringing luck, great wealth and prosperity to the pearl's owners.


Golden Akoya Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada fucata martensii, saltwater oyster

Origin: Vietnam and Japan

Body Color: Ranges from pale Lemon Yellow to deeper Gold

Overtones: Silver, Green, Aquamarine, Rose, Neutral Gold and Violet

Sizes: Golden Akoya pearls can be smaller 4.0 mm baby pearls up through 10.0 mm at their largest.

Pearl Colors: Natural Golden Akoya Pearls

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Lavender Pearls

Lavender pearls are one of three natural Freshwater pearl colors that the Freshwater pearl mussel produces. A soft, feminine color, Lavender pearls are a fashionable and romantic way to add a splash of unique color to any jewelry collection.

Meaning of Lavender Pearls: Lavender pearls are used to symbolize royalty, nobility, wisdom, creativity, artistry, love, compassion and complexity.

There are 2 types of naturally colored Lavender pearls. They are:

  • Lavender Freshwater
  • Lavender to Purple “Edison” Freshwater

Check out each of these gorgeous pearl types:

Pearl Colors: Lavender Freshwater Pearls

Lavender Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color:Ranges from pale mauves to pastel Lilac through deeper Lavenders and even darker Violet  

Overtones:Aquamarine, Blue, Silver, Rose and Gold

Sizes: Lavender Freshwater pearls can be as tiny as 1.0 mm seed pearls up to 10.0 mm or so.


Purple Edison Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color:Ranges from dark Violet to Royal Purple

Overtones:Aquamarine, Blue and Rose

Sizes: “Edison” Freshwater pearls are quite large, and range from 13.0 – 14.0 mm up to 16.0 – 17.0 mm

Did You Know: Edison pearls are one of the newest Freshwater pearls on the markets and pretty rare. Colors like Royal Purple are very expensive. The reason why these pearls are so large is that they are bead-nucleated with large mother of pearl nuclei.

Pearl Colors: Dark Purple Edison Freshwater Pearls

Multi-Color Pearls

Multi-color pearl necklaces are composed of two, three or more different pearl colors, usually all of the same pearl type – but not always! Freshwater Multi-Color pearl necklaces usually combine white, pink/peach and lavender pearls in various combinations. Multi-Color Tahitian pearls feature beautifully arranged necklaces with a rainbow of black pearl colors designed to excite the imagination. White and Golden South Sea Multi-Color pearl necklaces traditionally feature a mix of gorgeous White and Gold pearls to marvelous effect.

Meaning of Multi-Color Pearls: Creativity, artistry, complexity, prosperity, wealth, mystery, adventurous in spirit, uniqueness and individuality.

There are 3 types of Multi-Color pearl necklaces:

  • Multi-Color Freshwater
  • Multi-Color Tahitian
  • Multi-Color South Sea

Check out each of these gorgeous Multi-Color pearl choices:

Pearl Colors: Multi-Color Freshwater Pearls

Multi-Color Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color:White, Lavender and Pink or Peach  

Overtones:Rose, Silver, Cream, Aquamarine, Blue and Gold

Sizes: Multi-color Freshwater pearls can range from 5.0 mm sizes up to 10.0 mm or so.


Multi-Color Tahitian Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada margaritifera, black-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: French Polynesia Islands

Body Color: Ranges from pastel silver gray to a variety of dark charcoal grays to rarely pure blacks.

Overtones: The most common overtones are peacock, green, blue-green and silver/steel.

Sizes: Tahitian pearls range in size from 9.0 mm up through 15.0 – 16.0 mm and rarely, larger.

Pearl Colors: Multi-Color Tahitian Pearls

Pearl Colors: Multi-Color South Sea Pearls

Multi-Color South Sea Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada maxima, silver-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: Australia, Indonesia and the Philippine Islands

Body Color: White and Gold

Overtones: Rose, Silver and Cream for White South Sea. Neutral Gold, Silver, Rose and Bronze for Golden South Sea pearls.

Sizes: South Sea pearls range in size from 8.0 – 9.0 mm up through 16.0 – 17.0 mm and even up to 20.0 mm giants.  


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Peach and Pink Pearls

Pink and Peach pearls both fall under the same color of Pink/Peach, but for our purposes we will separate them out into two color categories. Soft, pastel and feminine, the Pink and Peach Freshwater pearls are a pretty and flirty way to add a touch of romance to any wardrobe.

Meaning of Pink Pearls: Pink and Peach pearls represent love, romance, passion, kindness, compassion, loyalty and happiness.

There are two colors of naturally colored Pink to Peach pearls. They are:

  • Peach Freshwater
  • Pink Freshwater

Check out each of these gorgeous pearl types:

Pearl Colors: Peach Freshwater Pearls

Peach Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color:Ranges from pale, pastel peach to darker apricot colors.

Overtones:Rose, Gold, Silver and Aquamarine

Sizes: Peach Freshwater pearls can be as tiny as 1.0 mm seed pearls up to 10.0 mm or so.


Pink Freshwater Pearls

Mussel Type: Hyriopsis cumingii, freshwater pearl mussel

Origin: China

Body Color:Ranges from pastel baby pink to deeper bubblegum pinks and mauve hues

Overtones:Aquamarine, Gold and Rose

Sizes: Pink Freshwater pearls can be as tiny as 1.0 mm seed pearls up to 10.0 mm or so.

Pearl Colors: Pink Freshwater Pearls

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Chocolate Pearls

Chocolate pearls are the sweetest, most delicious of all pearl colors. Whether color-treated or natural in origin, we think you’ll agree Chocolate colored pearls are a decadent treat. Chocolate pearls made their debut in the late 1990s, and were made famous by Los Angeles jewelry designer Erica Courtney who featured them prominently in her collections. The love affair with Chocolate Tahitians is still going strong to this day. The rich, warm tones are a perfect complement to Autumn’s seasonal hues.

Meaning of Chocolate Pearls: Chocolate pearls represent comfort, elegance, warmth, stability, earthiness, harmony and protection.

There are 2 types of Chocolate pearls. They are:

  • Dyed Chocolate Tahitian
  • Natural Color Chocolate Tahitian

Learn more about each of these pearls:

Pearl Colors: Dyed Chocolate Tahitian Pearls

Color-Treated Chocolate Tahitian Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada margaritifera, black-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: French Polynesia Islands

Body Color: Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate colors are color-treated. This is the result of a bleaching and dyeing process.

Overtones: Rose, Gold or Bronze

Sizes: Dyed Chocolate Tahitian pearls range in size from 9.0 mm up through 13.0 mm and rarely, larger.


Natural Color Chocolate Tahitian Pearls

Oyster Type: Pinctada margaritifera, black-lipped saltwater oyster

Origin: French Polynesia Islands

Body Color: Milk and Dark Chocolate, Bronze, Charcoal-Brown, Greenish-Brown, Mink

Overtones: Gold, Rose, Green or Bronze, Copper or Silver

Sizes: Natural Chocolate Tahitian pearls range in size from 9.0 mm up through 15.0 mm and rarely, larger.

Pearl Colors: Natural Chocolate Tahitian Pearls

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