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Different Types of Pearls!

Pearls are both natural and modern cultured pearls—occur in a wide variety of colours. The most familiar colours are white and cream (a light yellowish brown). Black, grey, and silver are also fairly common, but the palette of pearl colours extends to every hue. The main colour, or body colour, is often modified by additional colours called overtones, which are typically pink (sometimes called rosé), green, purple, or blue. Some pearls also show the iridescent phenomenon known as orient.

 

Natural Pearls

Natural pearls form in the bodies, or mantle tissue, of certain mollusks, usually around a microscopic irritant, and always without human help of any kind.

Cultured Pearls

The growth of cultured pearls requires human intervention and care. Today, most of the mollusks used in the culturing process are raised specifically for that purpose, although some wild mollusks are still collected and used.

 

There are four major types of cultured whole pearls:

Akoya Cultured Pearls

Akoya cultured pearls are the most familiar type of saltwater cultured pearl to most people in the U.S and other western markets. Many customers think of white or cream coloured akoyas as the classic pearl used for jewellery, especially single-strand necklaces. Japan and China both produce akoya cultured pearls.

South Sea Cultured Pearls

Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are leading sources of these saltwater cultured pearls. South Sea cultured pearls can be white to silver or golden, depending on the type of oyster. 

Tahitian Cultured Pearls

Cultivated primarily around the islands of French Polynesia (the most familiar of these is Tahiti). These saltwater cultured pearls, sometimes referred to as black pearls, have a wide colour range. They might be grey, black or brown, and they can have blue, green, purple or pink overtones.

Freshwater Cultured Pearls

Freshwater cultured pearls are the most commonly produced pearls and they are one of the most popular pearl types among shoppers and jewellery designers. This is due to their remarkable range of sizes, shapes and colours, plus their commercial availability at lower price points. They are usually cultured in freshwater lakes and ponds, often with many pearls grown in one oyster. China is the leading source for freshwater cultured pearls.