Different Types of Pearls
Freshwater pearls are grown in mussels living in fresh water, like ponds, rivers and lakes. Mussels are able to produce up to 20-30 pearls at a time. Freshwater pearls are well known for their wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, and their attractive affordable prices. Freshwater pearl sizes typically range from 5mm to 10mm, though they are often available in larger or smaller sizes. In recent years, the quality of freshwater pearls has been greatly improved and produced cleaner, rounder and more lustrous beautiful pearls.
Akoya pearls are the world's best-known pearl and are treasured for their very round shape and high luster.They come from a small oyster known as the Pinctada fucata, or akoya off the seas of Japan and China, they are commonly found in sizes ranging from 4mm to 10mm in size. Akoya pearls are a timeless favorite in the pearl industry and are gorgeous bride wedding jewelry.
Tahitian pearls are the only pearls in the world that are naturally black, and are treasured for its incredibly exotic color and mirror-like luster. Tahitian pearls come in an array of colors, from silver to deep black, with shades of green, blue, and peacock. Range from 8mm to 18 mm in size.
White & Golden South Sea Pearls
White & Golden South Sea pearls are treasured for their classic color, exceptional sizes and brilliant satin luster. These valuable pearls are produced by the Pinctada Maxima oyster, along the coasts of Australia, Indonesia and Philippines. White South Sea Pearls are typically creamy white in color with a silver overtone. Golden South Sea Pearls often have a variation of shades of light to dark golden colors. Size are generally found between 9mm and 15mm.
The most important thing you need to know when learning about Pearl Grading in order to make an educated purchase decision is that: there is no industry standardized grading system for pearls. Every company selling pearls use a grade system devised and created by themselves.
The following is our grading system for Saltwater Pearl: Akoya Pearl and Tahitian Pearl.
|Surface||Pearls having flaws on at least 60% of the pearl surface, with 20% containing deep imperfections.||Flawless on 40% of the pearl's surface, with the remaining 50% having minor imperfections and 10% containing deep flaws.||Flawless on at least 70%-80% of pearl's surface, 20%-30% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight blemishing with one or two deep imperfections.||Flawless on at least 80-85% of the pearl's surface, with the remaining 15-20% containing only minor imperfections with one or two deep imperfections.|
|Luster||Poor to High||Medium to High||High to Very High||Very High|
|Shape||Near Round to Round||Round||Perfectly Round||Perfectly Round|
The grading system for Freshwater Pearl
Freshwater pearls are typically found in lakes and rivers in China and produced in mollusks called mussels. Freshwater pearl's price is a fraction of Akoya pearl or Tahitian pearl.
|Surface||Heavy Blemishing with only 50% or less clean surface.||Minor to medium blemishing with a 70-80% clean surface||Minor Blemishing with at least 90% of the pearl surface clean.||Very Minor to no blemishing with at least 95% of the pearl surface clean.|
|Shape||Off Round||Off Round||Near Round to Round||Round|
Pearls come in a variety of different shapes, due to pearls are natural organic substances. There are four primary pearl shapes: round, semi-round, drop, baroque.
Round Pearls-are perfectly spherical and are considered to be the most popular and valuable.
Semi-Round Shaped Pearls-have microscopic irregularities compared to perfectly round pearls that make them slightly less valuable.
Drop Shaped Pearls-It looks almost like a teardrop or a drop of water shape.
Baroque Shaped Pearls-are irregular in shape, with no two being exactly the same. They are completely asymmetrical compared to round pearls. Baroque pearls are cherished for their uniqueness.
Besides four primary shapes, Freshwater Pearls also have more different unique shapes:
Button shape-Button pearls are flattened to some degree, making them resemble a button rather than a perfect sphere.
Coin shape-these pearls are round and flat, like a coin.
Stick shape-these pearls are also known as BIWA pearls, and they are long, flat, and narrow, like a stick.
Cross shape-a very special type of baroque pearl,the pearl forms in the shape of a cross.
Keshi pearls-these pearls are one of baroque pearls and happen when the mollusk rejects the seed but continues to develop the pearl, so they do not have a center particle. They are elongated shape and lustrous.
Potato pearls-These pearls are small and lumpy, like a potato.
Rice pearls-are sometimes known as oval pearls, resemble grains of rice.
Freshwater pearl sizes typically range from 5mm to 10mm, though they are often available in larger sizes up to 13mm or smaller size 2-4mm. Pearls below 7mm are considered small in size, while 7-8mm and 8-9mm are generally more popular sizes selected for necklaces, while above 10mm is considered to be above average in size and more rare and valuable, especially in the higher quality. Typically the larger the freshwater pearl the more difficult it is to find a round, lustrous pearl in that size.
Akoya pearls range in size from as small as 4mm to as large as 10mm. Pearls below 6mm in size are considered to be the smaller ones, and 7mm through 8mm are common sizes selected for pearl jewelry, while above 8mm is considered to be more rare and valuable, especially in higher quality.
Tahitian pearls generally range in size from as small as 8mm to as large as 18mm. 9-10mm and 10-11mm are generally the more popular sizes selected for necklaces, while above 13mm is considered to be larger, rarer, and much more valuable, especially in the higher quality.
White & Golden South Sea Pearls
South Sea Pearls generally range in size from 9mm to 15mm, though some can be found as large as 20mm. These sizes are considered larger than Akoya or Freshwater Pearls. 10-12mm are generally the more popular sizes selected for necklaces, while above 13mm is considered to be larger, rarer, and very more valuable, especially in the higher quality.
Difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls: origin, pearl production, colors, size, shape, luster, price.
High-end, luxurious pearls
Great for special occasions
Will last a lifetime
Mostly perfectly round
small barely noticeable blemishes
Harvest 1-2 pearls at a time per oyster
white, silvery-blue, gold natural color
Good for everyday wear
Good Pearl to start with
lustrous in their own, unique way.
A variety of shapes,eg: potato,coin,button,off-round/oval shapes etc
slightly noticeable chalky spots and subtle ridges on the surface
Harvest much as 20-30 pearls at a time per mussel
white, peach/pink, lavender natural color
Cultured Pearls and Natural Pearls are both REAL Pearls.
Natural Pearls are "wild-caught" pearls, will occur without any intervention by human beings. A natural pearl is formed organically when an irritant accidentally gets into the soft tissue of the mussel in an oyster.This irritant,such as seawater sand or dust, activates the oyster's defense mechanism, causing it to produce layers of secretions to coat the irritant. These layers of secretion (also called nacre) slowly develops into a natural pearl.
Natural/Wild Pearls are typically found by accident. They usually form unusual and more organic shapes. Very few are symmetrical or perfect spheres. Decent quality natural pearls have high price tag as their rarity, not affordable for most people.
Cultured Pearls are "farmed" pearls which grow in a pearl farm. Pearl cultivation involves the process of pearl farmers physically inserting an irritant, such as a shell bead nucleus, inside the soft tissue of the oyster. Then the layers of nacre are formed naturally, just like the natural pearls.
Cultured pearls have much more production than natural ones, and the quality are the same or even better. The price is affordable for us. Now Most pearls sold today are cultured.
Baroque pearls are pearls which have irregular non-spherical or oddly shapes. Baroque pearls come in a variety of shapes from tiny to large. Such as coin pearls, keshi pearls, biwa pearls aka stick pearls, cross pearl, teardrop pearl etc. The most common type of baroque pearls are freshwater pearls, because freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue nucleated instead of bead nucleated. Cultured saltwater pearls can also come in baroque, but tend to be more teardrop-shaped due to the use of a spherical nucleation bead.
Mother of pearl is the iridescent internal layer of a mollusk shell, also known as nacre, which is created by mollusks to protect their soft interior tissue. Mother of pearl is commonly produced from three types of mollusks—pearl oysters, freshwater mussels and abalone.
Mother of pearl refers specifically to the nacre-coated inner-shell of the mollusk; Pearls are formed inside the mollusk, often within its body tissue. When an irritant into the soft tissue, the creature then coats the irritant (or nucleus) with layer upon layer of nacre, which over time builds up a real pearl.
Abalone is a gastropod shellfish which has an ear-shaped shell. Mother-of-pearl is iridescent inner layer of mollusk shell. This iridescent layer is also produced from the shell of abalone. Therefore, the key difference between abalone and mother-of-pearl is that abalone is an organism, and mother-of-pearl is the inner layer produced from the shell of this organism.
Edison Pearl is a kind of freshwater pearl, which has high-end saltwater pearl quality, big, almost perfectly round shape and comes in a variety of unique natural colors and are affordable.
The surface of Edison pearls is clean, lustrous and largely free of any blemish.
Edison Pearl sizes typically range from 10mm-15mm, above 15mm are rare.
Come in vivid natural colors such as white, peach, pink, gold, metallic, purple and more.
With the stunning luster size and natural colors, Edison pearls can be comparable to some of the highest quality and valued saltwater pearls on the market like Tahitian and South Sea.
Traditionally, for freshwater pearls, a piece of shell is seeded into the mollusk to start the process. It makes most freshwater pearls has vary irregular shapes. But Edison cultured pearls are nucleated with round beads, exactly as saltwater pearls. The beads are implanted into mussels, selected through genetic research, with a special technique. By using these round beads, Edison pearls produce wonderfully near-round and round shapes. In addition, Most brightly colored freshwater pearls achieve their color by man-made dying process, not natural colors. But Edison pearls are naturally colored in brilliant hues.