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Know Your Pearls: Types of Pearls & Where They Come From

Know Your Pearls: Types of Pearls & Where They Come From

Pearls are one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. They have been used for centuries, and they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Know their type and where they come from.

Where do pearls come from?

Pearls are one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. They have been used for centuries, and they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. But where do pearls come from?

Pearls are created by oysters, who produce them as a way to protect themselves from predators in their environment. Natural pearls are formed when an irritant enters an oyster or mussel's shell. This irritant usually comes from either a parasite, fish bones, or even a grain of sand. The irregular object essentially causes an accumulation of calcium carbonate to form around it. The iridescent coating on the pearl comes from the mother-of-pearl material that the animal builds around itself over time to protect itself from predators. It is this pearl that we see in jewelry pieces today.


Cultured Pearls

Cultured pearls are grown in pearl farms by inserting a piece of mantle tissue into an oyster's gonad gland, where it develops into a pearl sac. The oysters are then cultivated, and it takes two to three years for the oyster to produce a pearl. Cultured pearls are not as rare as natural ones, which makes them less expensive. In the next sections, we will learn about the four major types of cultured whole pearls.


Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian pearls are some of the most beautiful and expensive pearls in the world. Tahitian pearls are known for their deep luster and rich colors. They are often large, with a gold or silver tone, and can be found in many different shapes. These pearls come from Tahiti, French Polynesia, and can be as large as 5mm. The largest Tahitian pearl ever found weighed over 30 grams! The most prized color is a violet/grayish-blue, but they also come in shades of white, pink and black. These pearls are cultured in the waters surrounding French Polynesia, particularly in the lagoon of Tahiti. They can be found in many different shapes, including ovals, rounds and drops.

Know Your Pearls: Types of Pearls & Where They Come From


Akoya Pearls

Akoya is the most common type of pearl you will find at the local jewelry store. Akoya pearls are grown in several parts of Japan including Mie and Aichi prefectures. Akoyas have a round shape and come in many colors including white, pink, yellow, green and even black! Akoyas range from 2-5mm in size but they also come in very large sizes of up to 20mm or more! Akoya pearls have been popular for over 400 years and you can still find them today being used by pearl farmers all over the world.


South Sea Pearls

South Sea Pearls are one of the most popular types of pearls in the world, they are popular for their large size, intense luster and unique colors. The South Sea pearl industry is one of the most successful in history. It accounts for more than half of all saltwater cultured pearls sold worldwide today. These pearls come from the waters surrounding Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The South Sea pearl oysters live in deep waters of up to 200 feet below the surface. These pearls have a higher luster than Akoyas but can be more expensive depending on their color and size.


Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are the most common type of pearl. They are those that are formed in freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. They're usually white or cream colored, but can also be yellowish or pinkish. Freshwater pearls are naturally low in luster and therefore require additional treatment to make them look like the high-luster Akoya oyster pearls which are saltwater. Freshwater pearls come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, making them a popular choice for jewelry. Freshwater pearls can be found throughout the world and were first cultivated in China in the 1500s.


Bottom Line

Whether it's a gift for her, or simply a gift to yourself, pearls are a timeless luxury. Like watches and jewelry, they can be worn with almost any outfit, and they'll add an element of elegance and refinement to even the most casual outfit. There are many different types of pearls, and they all have their appeal. You can pick the type of pearl that interests you the most and treasure it forever. Barrington Jewelry has a collection of beautiful pearl jewelry that will be a great addition to your wardrobe.