If you don’t know the differences between pearl types, use the following guide to narrow down your choice by color, size, price and other details.
Akoya Pearls are one of three common types of saltwater Pearls and are the traditional white pearls that we associate with movie stars, royalty or brides. Akoya pearls are very small in size, allowing for the highly reflective luster because the nacre is relatively thin. Quality of an Akoya pearl is judged on the thickness of the nacre; how smooth, clean and unblemished the surface is; and the brilliance and reflective properties of the nacre. Pearls that are above this standard may be certified as Hanadama pearls.
Akoya pearls can be found in almost every form of jewelry, such as: bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces, pendants, etc. Many of the strand jewelry can be found in single, double or triple strand versions. They can be worn with casual clothing, business attire or formal wear. Although there are a many forms of jewelry available for Akoya pearls, it is predominately found as pearl necklaces with the 16” (choker) and the 18” (princess).
Color: White or Black
Overtones: Ivory, Rose, Silver
Pearl Size: 5.0mm-10.0mm
Most Popular Sizes: 6.5mm-8.5mm
Price Range: $80.00-$9,000.00
Quality (From High to Low): Hanadama, AAA, AA+
Country of Origin: Japan, sometimes China
Mollusk Species: Pinctada Fucata
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Due to the abundance of Freshwater pearls and its relatively low price, consumers can find this type of jewelry more widely available. The broad range of colors and shapes gives jewelers a chance to experiment and create very unique jewelry. The unique baroque freshwater pearls can always be found in the most interesting jewelry pieces.
Color: White, Pink, Peach, Black, Lavender
Pearl Size: 3.0mm-14.0mm
Most Popular Sizes: 6.0mm-9.0mm
Price Range: $40.00-$1,500.00
Quality (From High to Low): Freshwater Gem Grade, AAA, AA+
Country of Origin: China
Mollusk Species: Hyriopsis Cumingi
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Tahitian pearls are striking “exotics” and extremely valuable in their different colors and sizes. Discovered in 1960 Tahitian pearls are among the largest pearls in the world, ranging in size from approximately 8.0mm to 18.0mm.
Although Tahitian pearls are primarily referred to as the Black Tahitian pearl, the term black is a little misleading as true black colored Tahitian pearls are exceptionally rare. The Black Tahitian pearls natural color is charcoal, silver and grey along with various combinations and shades of these colors. Some of these shades that you may hear are trade terms like peacock, aubergine, and pistachio. In any color, Tahitian cultured pearls are amazing gems of great beauty creating stunning pieces of pearl jewelry.
Color: Grey, Black, Green, Silver, Peacock, Cupper, Aubergine, etc
Pearl Size: 8.0mm-16.0mm
Most Popular Sizes: 9.0mm-14.0mm
Price Range: $200.00-$10,000.00
Quality (From High to Low): AAA, AA+
Country of Origin: French Polynesia
Mollusk Species: Pinctada Margaritifera
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The incredibly large South Sea pearls are farmed between Northern Australia and the Southern Coast of Chine. They range in size from 9.0mm up to a magnificent 20.0mm. It’s not uncommon to find baroque south sea pearls that are larger than 25.0mm in diameter, making it among the largest sized pearls harvested in the world.
South Sea pearl jewelry is some of the most exquisite jewelry in the world. Consumers can enjoy this pearl jewelry in round or baroque South Sea pearl necklaces. The luster and size of a quality south sea pearl is hard to match anywhere in the world. Though some may find a full strand of South Sea pearls as too expensive, there is a large selection of South Sea Pearl Pendants which are more affordable. Baroque shaped jewelry gives jewelers an opportunity to create some truly unique pieces of jewelry for consumers to enjoy without spending thousands of dollars.
Color: White or Gold
Pearl Size: 9.0mm-20.0mm
Most Popular Sizes: 10.0mm-14.0mm
Price Range: $40.00-$20,000.00
Quality (From High to Low): AAA, AA+
Country of Origin: Australia, Philippines, Indonesia
Mollusk Species: Pinctada Maxima
Read more about South Sea Pearls