Freshwater pearls, born from mussels in lakes or rivers, typically originate in the regions of south/southeastern China. Amongst all pearls, freshwater pearls are the most versatile in regards to color, shape and size.
Unlike saltwater pearls, which are cultivated using beads as their nucleus, freshwater pearls are cultivated with small pieces of donor oyster tissue. And, as they are left to develop longer than any other type of pearl a lustrous orb of nearly 100% nacre is produced. The resulting high quality and affordability make freshwater pearls a mainstay in the fine jewelry market.
Tahitian pearls, renowned as natural “black pearls”, originate exclusively from the South Pacific islands of French Polynesia. Cultivated from the black-lipped oyster, the mystical aura created by their lustrous black sheen and incredible size excite the imagination and make them particularly prized possessions. However, Tahitian pearls are not confined to black, but actually exhibit a wide spectrum of colors: peacock green, dark purple, yellowish green, brown, grey…endlessly varied by a vast array of overtones that have captivated the hearts of pearl lovers for centuries.
South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are the most valuable pearls in today’s market because not only are they by far the largest pearls, they are also a great deal more rare. These pearls are grouped mainly according to their principle color tones of either white or gold, and are cultured in the silver/golden lipped oyster (Pinctada maxima) in the warm South Sea shores of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and some other Southeast Asian countries. South Sea pearls quite often have extremely thick nacre of 2-6mm and high luster, producing sharp reflections, which, factored in with their comparative rarity, makes them the favorites of many pearl collectors.
It was within the Akoya oyster in Japan that the very first successful attempt to cultivate pearls in the 1900’s revolutionized the pearl industry. No longer were pearls the exclusive right of only the rich and powerful. The hallmark of pearls produced in Akoya oysters is their great luster and perfect roundness which makes them most representative of the classic, elegant style. While Japan was once the main source of Akoya pearls, decades of development in cultivation techniques have shifted the production industry to the point where the largest percentage of Akoya pearls are now produced in China, South Korea, Vietnam and Australia.
Main characteristics of different types of pearls
South Sea Pearls
the Philippines and
other Southeast Asian countries
White, Golden, Creamy
Dark black, Peacock, Pistachio, Aubergine
Mussels: Triangle Shell:
White, Lavender, Peach/Pink, Metallic
Japan; South China