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Pearl Type & Color

 Each Pearl has its own unique identity. This article is to explain the variety of Pearl types and colors.


Pearl Color

First a little understanding regarding Colors. Pearls have certain characteristics that determine the Color, three components are of importance.

  • Body Color

Dominant overall color of the Pearl, type of mollusk, color of mantle tissue implant and water condition have influence on the Pearl’s body.

  • Orient

A shimmer of iridescent rainbow colors just below or on the Pearl’s surface. It is basically a prismatic display of all the colors of the spectrum shining from deep within the Pearl’s skin.

  • Overtone

Secondary translucent color that lies over the Pearl’s body color.

 

Pearl Type

Next is the type of Pearl, today there are four types of Pearls dominate the Pearl Market.

Freshwater Pearls

Tahitian Pearls 

Akoya Pearls

South Sea Pearls

 

Freshwater Pearls

pearl-type-freshwater

Freshwater Pearls can be cultivated in sizes ranging from 3mm to 15mm. Round or near-round Pearls are difficult to cultivate, only an average of around 2 percent of all Freshwater Pearl harvest becomes round. More sophisticated cultivation techniques enables Pearl Farmers to cultivate intricate specific designs other than round.

Japan has the richest history of Freshwater Pearl cultivation. It was the first country to start with Freshwater cultivation. In Lake Biwa, The Hyriopsis Schlegeli Mussel was used and their quality was recognized worldwide as the quality standard. In the United States John Robert Latendresse (1925-2000) was the first North-American Pearl Farmer outside of Asia, his Pearl Farm was worldwide known for its quality of Pearls. China dominates the international commercial Freshwater Pearl Market today. They have mastered the techniques extremely well, and they are producing Freshwater Pearls with a superb quality.

The Hyropsis Cumingi mussel is used, (sizes range between 3mm to 15mm) and they produce a wide array of colors, shapes and luster. Nacre is what gives pearls their natural color, many naturally occurring colors are found in the body of the Freshwater Pearl. Colors like White, Pink, Orange and other pastels can be achieved by natural means. The body color is often complemented by the rainbow iridescence called Orient. Freshwater Pearls are sometimes dyed black to enhance the Orient.

Freshwater Mussels can produce up to 20 Pearls at a time, whereas Saltwater Oysters can only produce one at a time, it also takes less time for a Mussel to nurture Pearls. Therefore Freshwater Pearls can be produced at much lower costs. This is the reason why Freshwater Pearls are much more affordable than Saltwater Pearls.

The high quality against an affordable price makes these Pearls greatly appreciated.

Tahitian Pearls

 pearl-type-tahitian

Tahitian Pearls are Saltwater Pearls grown in several islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, including Tahiti.

The Oyster used for cultivating Tahitian Pearls is the Pinctada Margaritifera, which is unique for its black lip. Japanese cultivation experts first succeeded in cultivating Tahitan Pearls in 1960.

The size of Tahitian Pearls ranges between 8mm and 18mm. Commonly known as Tahitian Black Pearls, their colors actually include many. Truly Black Tahitian Pearls are in fact quite rare in their existence. The overtone colors are very distinct making each Tahitian Pearl very unique.

Colors Tahitian Pearls come in:

  • Black
  • Peacock
  • Blue
  • Gray
  • Purple
  • Green

Their rarity, uniqueness and vibrant colors make these Pearls one of the costliest Pearls and most sought after.

Akoya Pearls

pearl-type-akoya

Akoya Pearls are Saltwater Pearls with the longest history in cultivating Pearls. Produced primarily in Japan, but also in China, Vietnam and Australia, using the Pinctada Fucata Martensii Oyster. Akoya Pearls are difficult to grow, only around half of the Pearls survive the nucleation process, and only half of these survivors will be successfully surrounded with nacre. Resulting in an overall output of only 5 percent high quality Akoya Pearls.

The size of Akoya Pearls ranges from 3mm to10 mm, typically sold Akoya Pearls are 7mm.

Colors Akoya Pearls come in are:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Gray
  • Gold
  • Pink
  • Green
  • Silver
  • Black

Their Luster, beautiful roundness and classic appearance make these Pearls highly valued.

South Sea Pearls

pearl-type-south-sea

South Sea pearls are Saltwater Pearls grown in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Japan and Thailand. The Oyster used is the Pinctada Maxima. These Oysters are silver lipped or gold lipped, determining the color of the Pearl.

The size of South Sea Pearls ranges between 8mm and 20mm, they can grow bigger than any other Pearl. South Sea Pearls were first cultivated in Australia in 1956 after almost being extinct due to overfishing.

Colors South Sea Pearls come in:

  • Gold
  • Cream
  • Champagne
  • Vanilla
  • White
  • Silver
  • Aqua

Their rarity, luxurious colors and large size make these Pearls the most expensive and exclusive Pearl today.


We at Pearl Universe offer Freshwater, Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea Pearls in various types and colors. Please feel free to visit our Pearl Universe Shop to see all of our products.

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