Types of Pearls
AKOYA CULTURED PEARLS
Akoya pearls, the first to be cultured and most popular of pearls, offer rich coloration and stunning luster. They tend to be consistently round and make beautiful jewelry. Akoya pearl colors can be brilliant hues of white, cream, gold, silver, pink, blue, grey, or black.
BLACK SOUTH SEA CULTURED PEARLS
These larger (8 mm-plus) naturally black pearls made by black-lipped oysters can vary in color hues, including midnight blacks, or silvers and greys, sometimes injected with shades of green, blue, or pink, for a elegance all its own. Oval, teardrop, curved or uniquely formed (“baroque”) shapes are common. Each is a work of art from nature, and the foundation of a beautiful piece of jewelry.
SOUTH SEA WHITE CULTURED PEARLS
These large (9 mm-plus) white pearls, products of the silver-lipped South Sea oyster, are prized for their satiny luster and radiant depth. Round, oval, teardrop, and baroque are all characteristic shapes of these pearls that become eye-turning jewelry.
SOUTH SEA GOLDEN CULTURED PEARLS
Golden-lipped oysters in the South Seas produce pearls in both whites and naturally golden hues that can present anywhere from light champagne to deep gold. The deepest gold pearls are rare and remarkable. As with other South Sea pearls, the golden pearls are large (9 mm-plus) and take a variety of shapes, including round, oval, teardrop, and baroque.
FRESHWATER CULTURED PEARLS
Produced by mussels (rather than oysters), most freshwater pearls come primarily from the freshwaters of China. One mussel makes 10 to 14 small pearls at once, so these pearls are small and delicate, adapting beautifully to necklaces, earrings, and other forms of jewelry.
The dramatic pink (or sometimes white or orange) pearls of the Queen conch have been considered collector's items since Victorian times. Their sheen is more silky and porcelain in nature. Conch pearls are famous for their optical qualities known as “flame structure”. Their crystals collect in patterns that create an extraordinary illusion of a shimmering flame.