Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Different Types Of Pearls.

The only jewel that is regarded as both classic & contemporary - The Pearl. An epitome of elegance & grace, it is birthed from a very different process as compared with other jewels & gemstones. They are two categories of Pearls - Natural & Cultured.

Natural Pearls are highly valued and as the name suggests, are created naturally by a living creature depositing nacre on top of an irritant(an underwater creature/parasite). Conversely, Cultured Pearls are slightly modified in their process of formation. They are created by the manual placement of ‘Mother Of Pearl’ within an Oyster.

Since both the categories follow a natural process of gem formation, the beauty of this gem is that no two pieces are identical in shape, size or lustre. The most common colours of Pearls found are cream and pure white. 

Black and grey are also fairly popular shades of Pearls. However, Pearls are now available in most shades of colour. Each Pearl carries its own radiance and uniqueness. 

However, for those of you planning to buy it for the first time must thoroughly understand the different kinds of Pearls and their individual value.

One must know that there is an overwhelming range of Pearls with respect to types and price range in the market. Therefore, let us understand the options before a buying decision is made: 


The first and foremost distinction, after the Natural & Cultured categorisation is made on the basis of the Pearl habitat. This implies that the formation of Pearls depends entirely on the type of habitat that they are nurtured in. There are two types of variations on the basis of habitat: Saltwater & Freshwater. 

SaltWater Pearls come from Seas, Bays and the Ocean. They come from Mussels & Oysters and are usually more expensive and high quality. 

FreshWater Pearls are found in Rivers, Lakes etc and are found in Mollusks. They are irregular and varied in shape. They are not as expensive as Saltwater Pearls. 

These are the only two types of Pearls found & valued. Let us understand them in detail: 

SaltWater Pearls:

  • Akoya Pearls: 

The extremely coveted Pearls, Akoya Pearls are perfectly round shaped, rich and deep lustured. They are exclusive and have been adorned by Royalty and Pearl connoisseurs for centuries. They are mainly found in countries like China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Vietnam. 

  • South Sea & Tahitian Pearls:

They are cultured Pearls and take a longer time than Akoya Pearls to grow in the shell. They are highly valued cultured Pearls and their price increases with the size of the Pearl. They are without a doubt the largest Pearls and the rarest. 

The Black Pearls - the Tahitian Pearls from the Black-lip mussel Pinctada margaritifera are the only natural Black Pearls that exist, there are none other. The metallic look is found only in the Black Pearls. 

  • Keshi Pearls: 

Keshi being a popular Japanese reference for Pearls, is the name for tiny Pearls that are cultivated from a much larger cultured Pearl in the Akoya Oyster. Keshi Pearls come in unusual pantones like pistachio, bronze, purple overtones, green overtones etc. These Pearls were originally found in Kobe, Japan. These Pearls often are bright and have a good lusture. 

Freshwater Pearls: 

  • Biwa Pearls: 

These Pearls derived solely from the Biwa Lake in Japan, which was the first fresh water culturing lake. Biwa Pearls are cultivated without a nucleus, therefore the Pearl may take any shape. The colours they usually come in are white-cream, dark wine red, violet, salmon-orange etc. These exclusive Pearls are believed to have calcium content and therefore the Keshi Pearls that aren’t used are sent to India and China for medicinal purposes.

  • Chinese FreshWater Pearls: 

Chinese FreshWater Pearls are extremely unique and are manually cultivated by being nucleated using a mantle from a different Oyster. They are found in a wide range of colours - violet, salmon orange, white, green - white, rose etc.

With over 350 species of Freshwater Mussels residing in lakes, rivers etc. However, in unnatural circumstances of excessive development in the areas around, they tend to die or not develop. Chinese have however, managed to have a reasonable produce of FreshWater cultured Pearls. 

  • Blister Pearls: 

Blister Pearls are lustrous and exhibit a quality that enables them to show different colours when viewed from different angles. They are fabricated from the inner surface of the mantle and are attached to it rather than being conceived on the mantle. They are without any Pearly coating. 

  • Mabe Pearls:

Pearls that are cultivated on the inside of a mollusk in freshwater. They are formed by half beads that are manually placed on the inner surface of the mollusk’s shell. 

Usually with a formation time of about 2-3 years, they are made using Mother Of Pearl. Since this kind of Pearl is constructed, they are not very durable, as compared with the other types of Pearls. The Nacre may wear off in a few years. 

  • Seed Pearls: 

These are small natural Pearls formed in fresh water and measure up to only 2mm or sometimes even less. 

Last Bits

Other than the types and categories of Pearls, it is important to take into consideration a few other things before choosing your Pearl string - the length of the necklace, the design etc are important factors that may depend on your personal choice. Click here to get custom made pure gemstone necklaces, fine tuned to your choice.

Both precious and semi-precious pearls are a niche product and need to be identified by a professional inorder to make a sound buying decision. 

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