There are so many different kinds of pearls in the world as it comes to quality, shapes, colors, methods of growing etc. that I won’t be able to be super specific in this blog. But let’s just start!
First of all, truly real pearls rarely exist anymore and by real I mean pearls found in the wild. Nowadays every pearl is still made by an oyster, mussel or snail ( let’s call it mollusks ) but this is happening on pearl farms. Here is where mollusks grow and people insert a tiny object in this mollusk. As a reaction to this “weird” object, the mollusk wants to protect itself from this foreign object and starts creating a pearl. It takes some years before an actual pearl is grown but eventually the mollusk has done its job and we can harvest the pearls.
So most pearls are grown on a big scale in freshwater or saltwater but there are some exceptions!
Besides these pearls which are grown by mollusks you also have artificial glass pearls, plastic pearls, and shell pearls. These aren’t the real deal but if you don't have much knowledge of pearls you can be easily tricked as these pearls can also be pretty. Of course, if you would compare them next to the real ones you will see the difference when it comes down to the color and the shine. To equip you with more knowledge, I will discuss the different real pearl species like the Akoya pearl, Tahiti pearl, Pacific Ocean pearl, and the Freshwater pearl here below.
The Akoya is the most known saltwater pearl and the smallest one of its kind. This is because the mollusk where the pearls grow in, isn’t bigger than 9 cm. They produce pearls which are mostly nicely round, and most of the time Akoya’s are ivory white, creamy white with a subtle yellow or pink color. There are even instances where there are also color variants like lilac, champagne, and black.
The Tahiti pearl has its origin in Polynesia and is a black saltwater pearl, although they can also be green. These pearls can become very big as the shell of the mollusk can become 30 cm and weigh 5 kg! So they will produce pearls around 10 mm. Round black or green Tahiti pearls are very precious but are also less round and called baroque which are popular nowadays.
Pacific Ocean pearls are pearls that come from various oyster families. These oysters can create silver, white, champagne and warm golden pearls. These oysters are also big boys and the pearls can be up to 20 mm big!
Freshwater pearls are grown in various pearl farms in Japan and China. They have natural colors like white, salmon pink, lavender, blue and green. But, they can also artificially influence the color by laser techniques or with paint. Freshwater pearls come in al kinds of different shapes like round, baroque, rice shaped or button-shaped. The price of freshwater pearls is lower than the saltwater ones, this is because freshwater mollusks can produce more pearls at once (sometimes up to 20 pearls in one mollusk whereas saltwater mollusks can produce 2 to 3 pearls max).
Also, freshwater mollusks can be re-used for a “second round” and as for the saltwater mollusks, they can only produce pearls one single time. After they get harvested the flesh and the shells of the mollusk will also be used so there will be as little waste as possible.
It takes about 2 till 5 years for a mollusk to create pearls! So it is a precious piece of art of Mother Nature and if you have a good quality pearl with a beautiful natural color it can really enchant you!
I recently discovered a very nice dealer who has a love for natural and special pearls. So if you are looking for one, please let me know, so we can find just the perfect pearl for you!