Types of Pearls

Natural pearls are those pearls which are formed in nature, more or less by chance, by a parasite or a piece of food lodging itself in the mantle tissue of a host oyster. A cultured pearl, by contrast, is the result of human assistance in a natural process. By actually inserting a foreign object into the tissue of an oyster or mollusk, pearl farmers can induce the creation of a pearl.

Cultured pearls come in two main categories: freshwater cultured pearls and saltwater cultured pearls. Freshwater cultured pearls are produced in mollusks in freshwater lakes and rivers while saltwater cultured pearls are produced in oysters located in bays of saltwater bodies.

Freshwater Pearls

Amongst the various types of pearls available, freshwater pearls are prized for their durability, their diversity and warmth, and above all, their affordability. They are produced by mussels which live in lakes and rivers in remote areas of China. The mussels are nucleated with tiny pieces of mantle tissue, resulting in pearls made of solid nacre. These prolific mussels are able to produce up to 50 pearls at a time ranging in size from 2mm to 13mm.

Akoya Pearls

The Akoya is the original cultured pearl and the most classic of all types of pearls on the market today. It is the type of pearl that Mikimoto had a hand in developing and the first cultured pearls that were commercially successful. The akoya oyster produces pearls that range in size from 2MM to 9MM.

Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian pearls are the only pearls in the world that are naturally black. Rare, exotic, and luxurious, Black South Sea pearls are produced by oysters native to Tahiti and the French Polynesian islands. These saltwater oysters are bead nucleated (a bead of shell is inserted into the oyster to stimulate pearl creation) resulting in pearls that range from 8 to 18mm in size. Tahitian pearls come in an array of colors from silver to deep black, with shades of green, blue, and pink.

White & Golden South Sea Pearls

White South Sea and Golden South Sea pearls are treasured for their luxurious size and brilliant satin luster. These valuable pearls are produced by the famous silver-lipped oysters along the coasts of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. South Sea pearls can be found in the range of 8mm to 20mm, with the average being 13mm. Their incredible size, beauty and rarity make them the most valued pearls today.