types of cultured pearls

quick facts

Freshwater: Composed of 95%+ Nacre, therefore will last much longer than other types when worn, as all pearls will eventually degrade as they come in contact with makeup or perfume.

Akoya: No larger than 11mm, round, generally light, and less expensive than their larger counterparts.

South Sea: Normally larger, generally more than 10mm with a golden or white nacre, These are generally expensive.

Tahitian: Generally grey to black and not as uniform in shape as their other counterparts. Although it is possible to get a perfectly round pearl, these are also expensive.

pearl education

types of cultured pearls

There are four basic varieties of cultured pearls commonly available today.

Akoya pearls, Freshwater pearls, Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls are the four basic varieties of cultured pearls commonly available today. Each offers you something different and each can be magnificently beautiful.

Freshwater Pearls

Less expensive than saltwater cultured pearl types like Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls, Freshwater pearls are farmed in natural and man-made freshwater lakes and ponds in China. They are the product of an elaborate process in which an individual mollusc can be harvested many times, yielding several pearls at a time.

While Freshwater pearls as a variety are the most common type of pearl, very round and lustrous Freshwater pearls are very difficult to find. Top-of-the-line Freshwater pearls look remarkably similar to the Akoya pearls. They are dazzling in their rich, bright lustre, and their unique charm will last you a lifetime.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are the speciality of Japanese pearl farms. The first pearls to be cultured early in the 1920s, their white colour and rosé overtone complement a fair complexion. Because Akoya pearls are a high-quality pearl, you’ll find them set with gold posts and clasps, and you’ll find they are well matched for size, shape, and colour. You’ll also find few blemishes and a deep, beautiful lustre.

Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian cultured pearls offer a dramatic touch. The natural black colour of these pearls comes from the colour of the oyster’s black lips.

These pearls are traditionally called “black,” but their colour can range from a metallic silver to the colour of graphite. And within this range of colours, they can have bluish, purplish, or greenish overtones.

Tahitian cultured pearls are cultivated from the black-lipped variety of the Pinctada maxima oyster which reaches a foot or more in diameter, and produces very large pearls. This oyster is very sensitive to the pearl culturing process, which makes the pearls very costly to produce.

South Sea Pearls

South Sea cultured pearls are exceptional quality pearls with a whitish, almost silver colour.

Much larger than the average pearl, the smoothness and roundness of these pearls are exceptional. These are the rarest and extraordinary pearls you’ll find in jewellery.

South Sea pearls come from the white-lipped variety of the Pinctada maxima oyster. This oyster is much larger than the oysters that produce Akoya and Freshwater pearls, so the pearl that it produces is much larger as well. Because of the rarity and sensitivity of this type of oyster, cultivation of these pearls is much more difficult, making them more expensive.