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Pearl Types - Tahitian, Freshwater, Akoya and More

Not sure what type of pearl to buy? Let's get started by taking a quick look at different pearl types...

Freshwater Pearls

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About Freshwater Pearls

  • Freshwater pearls have been cultured since the early 1900's when the process originated in Japan using freshwater mussels.
  • Freshwater pearls have been increasing in size and roundness 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.
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    Akoya Pearls

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    About Akoya Pearls

    • Created by a type of saltwater oyster called Pinctada fucata martensii: The "Akoya Pearl" Oyster.
    • Because this type of oyster is not especially large, Akoya pearls are typically found in sizes of 2-8mm with 8-10mm being considered very large.
    • Akoya pearls are known for their white to cream coloration. Some examples, typically Japanese-grown, exhibit a slight pink tinge to the pearl, which is often cited as the most flattering color variant on Asian and Caucasian skin tones.
    • Valued for their mirror-like luster and depth (orient).
    • Cultured Akoya Pearls were originally imported to the United States by Mikimoto. Although some suggest their quality has fallen off as they move primary sourcing of Akoya pearls to China rather than Japan, Mikimoto remains the most widely distributed mass-market brand of Akoya pearls. Pearls in a box that says "Mikimoto" continue to command a premium price disproportionate to their actual level of quality.
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    Tahitian Pearls

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    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.
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    South Sea Pearls

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    About South Sea Pearls

    • Our White South Sea pearls are farmed off of Australia's northern coast and our Golden South Sea Pearls come from a remote and pristine area of the Philippines.
    • South Sea Pearls are harvested from a species of oyster known as the "Pinktada Maxima"
    • Due to the large size of the South Sea oyster our farmers can yield exceptionally large pearls on average from 10-15mm with rare pearls even reaching up to 20mm
    • South Sea pearls come in natural colors of white, gold, champagne and deep gold.


      Keshi Pearls

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      About Keshi Pearls

      • One of the most unusual pearl types, Keshi pearls are not cultured pearls, but are a by-product of the culturing process.
      • A Keshi Pearl is formed when a previously-cultured oyster spontaneously produces a pearl due to an irritant. Layers of nacre are secreted over this irritant and a keshi is formed. in exactly the way a natural pearl is formed. But because the oyster has been "touched by the hand of man" these pearls cannot be called "natural."
      • Although Keshi pearls are formed in farm-raised oysters, the Keshi Pearl itself is 100% nacre and does not contain a beaded nucleus.
      • Keshi pearls come in a variety of different colors and shades, and are known for their luster and uncommon orient. This is a result of their composition consisting of solid nacre.
      • Since these pearls are formed without a nucleus, shapes tend to come more baroque, with round being very rare. 




      Blue Mabe Pearls

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      About Blue Pearls

      • Blue pearls are formed within the shell of a mollusk called the Paua - a variety of Abalone.
      • Within the broad range of "blue" they vary in other colors present - ranging from blues and greens, gold to pinks, some also have splashes of red and violet. There are bright vibrant tones and soft subtle hues.
      • The pearls have a chameleon quality about them; the colours change in the way they catch the light. Liquid colours that almost have a life of their own. This variation in colour gives each pearl a distinctive character.
      • The colours of blue pearls are created by the genetic make up of each individual paua, the colours and iridescence of their shell, their diet and the natural environment in which they live.