Types of Pearls
The wonderful variety in types of pearls adds to their appeal. These gems of the sea will differ in their luster and mysterious colors depending on the type of oyster that produced them. Here is a guide to understanding their beautiful range of appearances:
Akoya Cultured Pearls
Prized for their brilliant luster and rich color, Akoya pearls are a traditional symbol of elegance and beauty. Produced by Japan's Akoya oysters, they are the most popular of all pearl types. Depending on the size of the mother oyster, they grow from 3-10mm. Colors range from white, cream and pink to light green, blue and silver.
Black South Sea Cultured Pearls
The breathtaking color of these naturally black pearls is produced by black-lipped oysters in the waters off Tahiti and Okinawa. Sizes begin at 8mm, in round, oval, teardrop or unique baroque.
shapes. While characterized as black, the rich, dark colors actually range from slate grey, silver and pistachio to peacock green and midnight black with overtones of green, rosé or blue.
South Sea White Cultured Pearls
The magnificent, satiny luster of these fantastic white pearls is produced by the silver-lipped South Sea oyster. Their subdued opalescent appearance subtly changes under different light conditions, making them a constant marvel to behold. Harvested in sizes from 9mm up, their shapes range from round, oval or teardrop to free-form baroque.
South Sea Golden Cultured Pearls
These opulent pearls are produced by the golden-lipped oyster. Their warm, natural golden color is said to be rarer than gold itself. The color palette ranges from light champagne to a very rare, deep gold. This oyster species can also produce richly luminescent white pearls, but the deeper golden colors are the most coveted of all pearls. Harvested in sizes of 9mm and up, in round, oval, teardrop or beautiful baroque shapes.
Freshwater Cultured Pearls
Produced mostly in the lakes and rivers of China, Freshwater pearls are cultured in a mussel rather than an oyster. Often small in size, as many as ten to fourteen Freshwater pearls can be cultured in one mussel. Perfectly round Freshwater pearls are extremely rare.
These natural pearls are harvested from the Queen conch, a large marine snail with a heavy, lustrous shell which lives in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The highest-quality examples of Conch pearls are characterized by a distinctive "flame structure" that gives the appearance of a fire burning on the surface.