Popular Types of Pearls

1.       About “Freshwater pearls” 

Chinese Freshwater Pearls are recognized as the most varied and beautifully cultured freshwater pearls in the world. With pristine freshwater lakes and abundant mollusk populations, Chinese harvesters continue to awe the pearl-loving community with gems in every size, shape and color and have been doing so for more than four thousand years!

In contrast to the Akoya pearls and other saltwater pearls, the freshwater pearls are not nucleated with round mother-of-pearl beads, but by inserting a small piece of mantle tissue from one mollusk between the mantle tissue and mother-of-pearl shell lining of the host mollusk. After nucleation, the pearl producing oysters are returned to their freshwater environments and nurtured for up to 6 years before the pearls are harvested.

While saltwater oysters are often nucleated to produce a maximum of two pearls, the freshwater oyster can be nucleated to produce upwards of fifty pearls per oyster. While the freshwater pearl rarely rivals the luster and roundness of the Akoya saltwater pearl, they abound in a beautiful variety of shapes and natural colors including white, pink, lavender and peach. Because of the greater abundance of the freshwater pearls, they offer a beautiful and affordable alternative to more expensive Akoya pearls.

As the Chinese have continued to increase their skill in pearl culturing techniques, the quality of freshwater pearls has increased dramatically, so much so that the top percentages of the pearl farmer’s harvests have begun to rival the quality of many saltwater pearls. Additionally, because of the larger size of the freshwater pearl oyster, it is not uncommon to see freshwater pearls many times larger than their saltwater counterparts (as large as 16mm) at a fraction of the cost.

2.       About “Akoya pearls”

"Akoya” refers to pearls produced by the Japanese Akoya oyster (Pinctada Fucata martensii). Primarily cultivated in the ocean waters off the coasts of Japan and China, Akoya are the most famous of all pearl producing oysters. Akoya yield saltwater pearls that are known for their intense luster, beautiful color, stunning overtones and exquisite roundness. In each quality, the Akoya are superior to freshwater pearls and therefore command much higher market values.

Because of the exquisite roundness and consistent color of the Akoya pearls, they are the most popular type of pearls for matching together to create beautiful necklaces and bracelets. While natural body colors include cream and white, natural overtones include green, yellow and rosé. As pearls with rosé overtones are the most rare, they are considered the most desirable and valuable.

Unlike freshwater pearls, the Akoya pearls are remarkably difficult to culture, which contributes to the powerful allure of this gem as well as its consistently high market value. While freshwater mollusks can be nucleated to harvest upwards of fifty pearls each, the Akoya oyster rarely produces more than two pearls with a higher mortality rate for the oyster itself. Additionally, the Akoya oyster is the smallest of all pearl producing oysters.

3.       About Tahitian Pearls 

The famous Black Tahitian Pearl is produced by the “black-lipped” oyster (pinctada maxima family) along the islands of French Polynesia.

Because of the extremely large size of the black-lipped oyster (up to 1 ft. long), they produce some of the world’s largest pearls in primarily blackish body colors (charcoal/metallic/gray etc.). They are often accentuated with a beautiful array of colorful overtones. The nucleating and culturing of the Tahitian pearl is quite difficult with relatively high mortality rates for the host oyster. For this reason along with the large size and high quality of pearls harvested, Tahitian pearls often command very high market prices.

Black Tahitian pearls are among the most exotic and sought after pearls in all the world. Because this oyster is much larger than either the Akoya bearing or Chinese freshwater pearl oysters, Tahitians are harvested in larger diameter sizes. Typical harvests yield pearls ranging from 8-14mm.

Tahitian pearls have become extraordinarily popular due to the variety of dark body colors such as gray, silver, charcoal etc. as well as rare, naturally occurring vibrant colors. National pearl offers high-quality Tahitian pearls with rarely occurring exotic colors such as copper, pistachio, taupe, peacock, aubergine, steel gray, olive, sea green, black and others. These pearls are artistically arranged to create our "National Treasure Collection" multi-color Tahitian necklaces.

Tahitian pearls are a favorite for use in pearl pendants, a popular choice for women who prefer stylish and exotic pearl designs over more traditional pearl strands.

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