The different types of pearls, cultured, freshwater, saltwater, natural and shell pearls

The several types of pearls, cultured, freshwater, saltwater, pure and shell pearls

Duke of Buckingham rocking a pair of natural pearls

Life was easier when the only pearls came from oysters. An oyster was opened and there was miraculously a shiny and beautiful natural pearl. Like a gift from heaven.
If you want pearls today, you need to know the different types of pearls. You have to decide whether you want real or fake pearls. But what is a real pearl? Today the high-quality pearls that are available in fine jewelry shops are called cultured pearls or cultured pearls. The saltwater cultured pearls are most desirable.

Why is a cultured pearl called cultivated?

Harvesting cultured pearls from the oyster – Photo Keith Pomakis

Cultured pearls or cultured pearls are formed in pearl oysters and freshwater clams. These oysters and pearls are grown. Or rather, maintained in a specific location in saltwater or freshwater farms. They are in a natural setting, but have been encouraged to make a pearl by inserting an “implant” made from the inner shell of freshwater mollusks and a piece of mantle.
Left alone, only a tiny fraction of these oysters and clams would form a pearl. The implant that the pearl farmers place in the jacket or protective membrane has an irritant effect and the oyster or mussel surrounds the irritant with layers of calcium carbonate, called mother-of-pearl.
If you’ve seen the beautiful iridescence on the inside of some seashells, you know that a beautiful pearl can not only have sheen, but also a touch of iridescence.

What is the difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl?

Cultured pearl in the oyster that created it.

A natural pearl occurs in an oyster, shell or other mollusk when a calcareous concretion (mother-of-pearl) is created that surrounds an intruder, parasite or object. A natural pearl comes from a wild mollusk without any artificial intervention.

cultivated pearl necklace after dormant work

The sheen of cultured pearls can vary slightly from pearl to pearl

In the cultured pearl, the implant or irritant that stimulates the formation of a pearl has a certain shape and size. This results in the harvested pearls becoming uniform in size. With wild pearls, the shapes are usually not spherical. If you sliced ​​a cultured pearl and a wild pearl and compared, the wild pearl would be the source of irritation and the balance would be the pearlescent substance, in other words there would be a lot of mother-of-pearl. In a cultured pearl, most of the pearl is the spherical implant with several thin layers of mother-of-pearl.

What is the difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls?

White gold, bubble-themed diamonds with Tahitian pearl ring

Tahitian cultured pearl in the peacock color

Saltwater cultured pearls are made from oysters that live in saltwater. Freshwater cultured pearls are grown from mussels in freshwater. For example, Japanese Akoya saltwater pearls are usually round. That is the ideal.

Example of free-form shapes of Chinese colored freshwater pearls

Chinese freshwater pearls are usually rice-shaped or non-spherical. The luster of the freshwater pearl often looks softer and different than the luster of the saltwater pearl.
Akoya, saltwater cultured pearls, have to stay in the oyster for at least two years to achieve the beautiful sheen and dazzling appearance. The saltwater oyster can produce 1 – 2 pearls for each growth cycle. In contrast to the poor performance of Akoya pearls, freshwater clams can process 40 to 50 pearls per growth cycle.
Saltwater pearls, whether Japanese Akoya, Tahitian or South Sea pearls, give a deeper shine and a touch of iridescence compared to freshwater pearls.

What are shell pearls?

Shell pearls, a kind of artificial pearl

Almost shiny metallic shell beads are military in their uniformity

Shell pearls are so named because they are made from seashells. They are made in a laboratory from the mother-of-pearl inner surface of certain mussels. Shell beads are made from a solid mother-of-pearl inner base to give them a more realistic weight. Its outer surface is made of powdered mother-of-pearl. The manufacturing process enables colors such as purple and pink to be produced uniformly by the thousands. Shell pearls generally have a uniform shape. They can be round, oval, or any other shape chosen by the manufacturer. They are then coated and baked for a more stable surface than cultured pearls.
Shell pearls are known for keeping their manufactured color and not being affected by perfumes and sweat. Cultured pearls can be damaged by sweat and perfume.
The uniformity of color and shape is one way to tell that they are not real. And their smoothness is also an indication.

Are Mallorca pearls real?

Mallorca pearl necklace

Mallorca pearls are made, but unlike shell pearls, their centers are made of glass and their finished product stands up to reality well. They are a high quality fake.
Like shell pearls, their flawless finish shows that they are not real.

What is a Mabe Pearl?

Mabe pearl with turquoise halo on man’s best friend

In contrast to a round pearl, which is cultivated in the pulp of the oyster, the Mabe pearl is cultivated on the shell wall of the oyster to form half a pearl. This type of pearl was invented to enable women who want a larger pearl to make their dream come true.

The oyster can only survive a certain size of the implant or irritates to cover with mother-of-pearl. However, producing half a pearl allows the oyster to cover a similar amount of surface area without additional stress. One advantage of the Mabe style bead is that if it were completely round, it can be worn attractively flat on the ear without bulging forward.

How to pick pearls for yourself

Website pearl necklace

Multi-colored jumbo baroque freshwater pearl necklace

Pearls have a special attraction and have loved lovers for centuries. Today’s advantage is the different types of pearls available and the wide variety of real and fake pearls available. My mission in writing was to answer the question of what shell pearls are. Then I remembered how many people asked me if Mallorca pearls were real, and so here we are.

Whether you are rich or poor, subtle or pink, there are a range of pearls for you.

I wrote a blog about the selection of cultured pearls. May your pearl journey lead you to pearls that make you look amazing.

Your personal jeweler,

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