What To Choose? Freshwater vs Saltwater Pearls

Anna Anna 16 Jun 2016 185

The pearl is a piece of true natural beauty and has been a highly coveted symbol of purity for hundreds of years. Today, they remain as one of the most elegant and classically chic pieces of jewelry that will never go out of style. It’s true to say that eery girl should have her pearls. So if you are thinking about adding some of the beautiful stones to your collection, it will be useful to learn all about them, and the two main types, freshwater and saltwater pearls.


Pearl in A Shell
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How Are Pearls Produced?

Pearls really are a wonder of nature, whether they are produced in a natural environment or in a cultured one. Pearls are formed when a mollusk, such as an oyster, produces layers of nacre (also known as mother of pearl), which occurs as the result of an irritant withing the shell. In natural pearls, this irritant could be some grit or organism from the water, but in cultured pearls, a small mother of pearl bead is usually placed inside the shellfish to get the whole thing started.


The shine, luster and colour of the pearl, is dictated by the nacre quality. A good pearl should be smooth and free of imperfections. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be round, it could be oval, or have a slightly irregular shape.

Freshwater and Saltwater Pearls

There are to main types of pearls, fresh water and salt water pearls, and there are subtle differences between the two.

Freshwater Pearls in a Braoque Shape
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Freshwater Pearls are softer than the classic saltwater pearl , and there are he most affordable version of pearls that you can buy. But just because they are affordable, doesn’t mean that they are not still rather beautiful. You can get a huge variation in freshwater pearls, coming in a wide range of baroque shapes, shades and lusters. They come in white and pastel colours, many with gorgeous rainbow sheens, and commonly range from 5mm to 12mm in diameter, but even larger freshwater pearls have been discovered.


There are several different types of Saltwater Pearls and each of them have their own merits and beauty.


Akoya Pearls
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The Akoya Pearl (produced in the Akoya mollusk) has been the more classic pearl of choice for the last 100 years, and are found and grown off the coast of Japan and Chine. They tend to be the well recognised white and round pearl, with a high shine luster, but in rare cases they can have baroque shapes and even silver/blue and gold colours. The size of the akoya pearl, usually ranges from 4 to 10mm and take around 18 months to grow to their full size.



Tahitian Saltwater Pearls
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The Tahitian Pearl are the saltwater pearls that are grown in the seas of French Polynesia. They are the only pearls that are naturally dark in colour, and so they are often known as black pearl, but in fact they can come in a range of deep and rich colours.  Tahitian pearls are not often the perfect round shapes of the Akoya Pearls, instead coming in a wide range of shapes, from baroque to oval to drops, each of which is very covetable and valuable. They typically range from around 8 to 15mm.


South Sea Saltwater Pearls
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South Sea Pearls are probably the most desirable and valuable saltwater pearls, and they are primarily grown in mollusks in the seas around Australian, Indonesia and the Philippines. They range from crisp white to luscious gold, with stunning shiny lustures. They can come in a perfectly round shape, but also come in ovals, drops and baroques. They are the largest of the saltwater pearls, with sizes up to 18mm in diameter. For that reason, they are very valuable, and therefore make a good investment piece of jewelry.


A Word About Cultured Pearls

Natural pearls are very rare, and therefore even the smallest of natural pearls can fetch a very high price. This has caused a huge rise in the popularity of cultured pearls, which are grown in pearl farms, where mollusks are raised until they reach maturity to carry a pearl. A bead is implanted in a delicate procedure, and the mollusk is returned to the water, whilst the pearl grows. Every implantation doesn’t produce a pearl, or even a high quality pearl, but the ones that are successful, can create really beautiful, natural stones.


So there is your education in pearls, one of the birthstones for this month, the month of June.