Natural Pearls are made over time inside an oyster, with the Pearl starting out as an irritant. In protecting itself the oyster coats the object (usually a grain of sand) with Nacre, a crystalline substance that builds up over time creating a beautiful, shimmering iridescent Pearl. Man mimics nature in the culturing process. Pearl farmers implant a fine bead into the oyster where it cannot be expelled. The oyster then takes over and creates its prize!
LUSTER – The luster of a good quality Pearl will be bright, not hazy. You should be able to see your reflection on its surface. A Pearl that seems too dull or chalky indicates poor quality.
SURFACE – It is rare to find a blemish free Pearl. The fewer the blemishes on the surface of the Pearl, the more valuable it will be.
SHAPE – Cultured Pearls come in a variety of shapes. However the more round a Pearl, the greater its value.
SIZE – Cultured Pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters. The average size of cultured Pearls sold today is 6.5 to 7.5MM. Since Pearls over 5MM are more difficult to grow, the larger the Pearl the more valuable it will be.
COLOR - Color of a Pearl is often a matter of personal preference. People with fair skin tones tend to look best in slightly rose or silvery/white Pearls. Creamy color and golden Pearls flatter darker complexions.
Types Of Pearls
Akoya – This is the most familiar type of pearl sold in necklaces. Akoyas from Japan and China are grown in pearl oysters and are known for their shimmering beauty and warm colors which range from rose, cream and gold to silvery white and blue/gray
South Sea – Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in tropical and semi-tropical oysters in the South Seas and around the coast of Australia. Their color ranges from silvery white to gold; they are quite costly due to their size and rarity.
Tahitian Black – Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in black-lipped oysters in French Polynesia. Colors range from silvery gray and green to deep purple and black. Their large sizes and unique colors command premium prices.
Mabe – Large, hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shells of oysters rather than in the oyster’s bodies. Less expensive than round cultured pearls due to their half-round shape, they are most popular in earrings, rings and brooches.
Freshwater – Pearls cultivated in mussels, not oysters, in freshwater lakes and rivers in China, Japan, and the United States. Due to their easy cultivation, freshwaters are fairly inexpensive. Shapes can be freeform, rice shaped, off round or spherical and colors range from milky white, to peach, pink, and lavender.
Keshi – Also know as seed pearls, these tiny pearls can be as small as a grain of sand and from accidentally in many cultured pearl oysters.
Baroque – Cultured pearls that are irregularly-shaped, yet often lustrous and appealing. Due to their shapes, baroque pearls are often less costly than round, cultured pearls.