Types of Pearls
Akoya Pearls These pearls were invented in the 1920s by Mikimoto in Japan, and thus Akoya Pearls refer to only Japanese Farmed Cultured Pearls. They are consistently more round and lustrous, with the colors ranging from white, rose, and cream.
Cultured Pearls can be cultivated by Oyster or Mussel farmers in China or Japan. With the advent of technology and farming techniques, the production of these pearls may look identical to the Akoya pearls to the untrained eye. What they lack in luster is made up by giving a more affordable pricing option to the consumers. Cultured pearls also range in white, rose, cream, grey, and black colors.
The freshwater pearl is usually slightly less round, smaller in size, and possesses less luster than other varieties of saltwater pearls. These pearls are usually cultivated in China.
Instead of growing inside an oyster or mollusk like other pearls, the mabe pearl actually grows against the shell of the oyster creating a dome-shaped pearl. This pearl is harvested, then assembled. The nucleus is removed and replaced by resin, while mother-of-pearl is used to cover the flat back. Mabes traditionally have a high luster.
South Sea Pearls
These pearls are cultured in the northern waters of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These pearls are considerably larger than Akoya pearls and considered the rarest and most valuable. Because of pollution today, South Sea pearls are becoming even rarer and harder to cultivate. South Sea pearls are naturally white, cream, or golden in color.
These pearls are slightly smaller than the South Sea pearls. These pearls are found near Tahiti and the South Pacific. The colors range from black, silver, grey, and peacock green is the most valuable and revered color.
Luster is the amount of light a pearl reflects from both its surface glow and the deep mirror-like reflection of its inner light. The better the quality of the pearl, the more superior its luster.
Subtle blemishes and tiny marks are part of a pearl’s natural texture and proof of its genuine origin. These blemishes are the result of sea particles that drift into the oyster and brush against the pearl as it forms. Fewer surface imperfections denote a higher quality, more valuable pearl.
Of the many shapes available, perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. In freshwater and south sea pearls, unique shapes like button, teardrop, oval and baroque are also popular.
Pearls vary widely in color based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colors range from cream, pink and grey too black, green and blue. White and pink rose, are among the most popular Akoya colors; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While color choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich color, evenly distributed throughout the pearl.
While size does not affect the quality of cultured pearls, it does affect the price. Large pearls are more difficult to cultivate and their rarity makes them more valuable. Pearls are measured in diameter increments of millimeters (mm). The classic Akoya cultured pearl generally ranges from 3mm to 9mm. South Sea cultured pearls begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 20mm.
Pearls are organic gemstones that are vulnerable to acid, alkaline, and extremes of humidity. To preserve your pearls' radiance, avoid letting them come into contact with cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume. Always put on your jewelry last as a final touch, after applying make-up and styling hair. The pearl's luster can also be harmed by perspiration. To prevent this, before returning your pearls to the jewelry box, wipe them gently with a soft cloth.