About Freshwater Pearls
- Freshwater pearls have been cultured since the early 1900's when the process originated in Japan using freshwater mussels.
- Freshwater pearl culturing is advancing rapidly. Pearls produced early on were mostly rice-grain shaped. Later a "potato" oval shape was produced, and more recently near-round and round pearls are being produced.
- Freshwater pearls have been increasing in size as cultivation techniques improve. Today, they rival Tahitian and South-Sea pearls in size and examples of 12mm and larger are beginning to appear.
- Freshwater pearls, while beautiful, typically do not achieve quite the same luster or roundness as saltwater pearls, and prices are thus more affordable. But as quality increases, prices have been rising too.
About Akoya Pearls
- Cultured Pearls farmed in ocean water using a type of oyster called Pinctada fucata martensii: The "Akoya Pearl" Oyster
- Because this type of oyster is not especially large, typically found in sizes of 2-8mm with 8-10mm being considered very large for Akoya pearls.
- Known for their white to cream coloration. Some cultures, especially Japan, value a very slight pink tinge to the pearl.
- Valued for their mirror-like luster and depth (orient).
- Originally imported to the United States by Mikimoto. Mikimoto remains the most widely distributed brand of akoya pearls and their box continues to command a premium price for a given level of quality versus other brands.
About Tahitian Pearls
- Cultured pearls farmed in Polynesian ocean water using a type of oyster called Pinctada margaritifera: the "black-lip oyster".
- These oysters are larger and can produce pearls as large as 16mm, though 8-10mm is more common
- Colloquially called "black pearls" they range from light gray to very dark gray.
- They exhibit greens, blues and purples, with the most valued examples showing an "oil slick" type spectrum of colors. Tahitian pearls showing a variety of all these hues with that 'oil slick' effect are often called "peacock" color and are among the most prized.