World's Best Designer Pearl Jewelry

Frequently Asked Questions about Pearls and Pearls.com

Please note: for issues relating to shipping or returns, please visit our About us page, This FAQ addresses other questions outside those areas.

I (bought | inherited | was given) some pearls, are they real?

The best advice is to gently rub them on your teeth. If they feel slick and smooth, they're not real. If they feel ever-so-slightly gritty and rough, they're real.

Are all your pearls real?

Yes. We sell only natural pearls and cultured pearls. We do not sell pearl 'simulants' such as shell pearl or crystal or plastic imitations.

What's the difference between "natural" pearls and "cultured" pearls.

You can think of cultured pearls as "farmed" pearls while natural pearls are "wild-caught" pearls. They grow in the same way, but in the case of cultured pearls, they occur because a human 'planted a seed' in that particular oyster.

Natural pearls occur without any intervention by humans. They tend to form more organic and unusual shapes. Less than 2% are perfect spheres or symmetrical.

Cultured pearls are the result of humans inserting seeds (called nuclei or a nucleus for singular) inside a mollusk; they grow in farms. 

Is a Cultured Pearl a “real” pearl?

Again, we find it useful to think of cultured pearls as "farm-raised" versus their wild-caught brethren. Some may enjoy farm-raised Salmon, others may prefer (and be willing to pay extra for) wild-caught Salmon. But the farm-raised Salmon is still a "real" fish!

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are two classifications of pearls; Natural and Cultured. Generally, when the question is asked as to whether a pearl is real or not, one is asking if it is fake or imitation. Both natural and cultured pearls are "real" pearls. 

Does farming pearls hurt the oyster? Does the oyster die when the pearls are removed?

Certainly not! Pearl farmers are typically VERY careful not to harm their mollusks. Oysters & Mussels tend to produce better-and-better quality pearls as they age, so no sensible pearl farmer would want to harm his 'flock'... In fact, pearls are typically removed in extremely clean conditions using surgical-type equipment to ensure their safety.

Is pearl farming bad for the environment?

Quite the contrary. Mollusks will only produce pearls when in pristine, totally-pure water. For this reason, most pearl farms are very remote and in only the most undeveloped areas. In fact, many pearl farmers are strong advocates of the 'green' movement, since preserving the harmony and purity of the Earth's environment is critical to their success.

Might I find a pearl in an oyster I eat?

You could, but it is unlikely. The tropical/warm-water oysters that generally produce most pearls are not "good eats" in our opinion (yes, we've tried them). The cold-water oysters we generally eat do not typically produce pearls. They ARE capable of producing pearls, but it is very unusual for them to do so.

My friend (sister, cousin, etc.) bought an oyster-in-a-can that was guaranteed to contain a pearl... and it did! Is it real?

It could be real, it could be fake. But most 'oyster-in-a-can' setups aren't "legit" in the sense that at best a low-grade freshwater pearl has been inserted into the 'canned' oyster for you to find. Or maybe it's an imitation pearl... But whatever you find there was put there for you to find. Oyster-in-a-can is fun and entertaining, but not the way to get a good quality pearl. 

Can I come see the product before I buy it?

We do not have retail locations, and avoiding that cost is one way we offer superior pricing for our premium-quality brand-name pearls. We do put a lot of time and effort into ensuring our photos are accurate and realistic and we offer a no-hassle return policy in the unlikely event you're not happy with your purchase. 

Do your Tahitian Pearls come from Tahiti?

"Tahitian" pearls are created by a type of oyster called Pinctada margaritifera: the "black-lip oyster." The vast majority do come from French Polynesia, an archipelago of which the island of Tahiti is the capital, and the whole area is often called "Tahiti"... Other famous islands in French Polynesia are Moorea and Bora-Bora. Visit them if you ever have the chance, they are amazing!

However the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster does thrive in other tropical waters - such as the Philippines or Vietnam, and the pearls they produce are still considered "Tahitian" Pearls.

One important note: when we say "Tahitian" pearls, we do mean pearls farmed in the ocean, from saltwater oysters of the Pinctada margaritifera variety only: We do NOT use the term "Tahitian" to refer to the -color- of the pearls - e.g. in some outlets you may find freshwater pearls and dyed black called "Tahitian" or "Tahitian-Color" pearls. We do sell pearls like that (and they're very nice!), but we call them "dyed freshwater pearls."

Why aren't all your pictures on the same background? Everyone else shows all their photos on white...

We've never wanted to be like "everyone else"...

Pearls.com offers jewelry from multiple trusted brands and designers. Each of these has a unique identity and brand presentation. In many cases, that includes offering photos of their product on the background they believe best shows their work. For example, Galatea prefers to show their items on a shaded background, while Emiko prefers to leave the actual as-photographed background in their pictures.

Our default/minimum requirement is to present otherwise-unretouched photos of product on a white background. But for those who prefer other backgrounds, we don't enforce conformity.

Does Pearls.com offer discounts?

We occasionally have special offers. They are typically of the 'loyalty' type and primarily offered to our current customers and e-mail subscribers. If you wish to receive them, sign up for our email newsletter over to the right side of the page.

Have a question?

Email it to us at info@pearls.com and we'll try to post an answer here!