The Many Pearl Varieties


Some Pearl History

The old Persians thought that pearls were created magically by the moonlight shining into the open oyster.  The birthplace of the fascination of humankind for the pearl is the Persian Gulf. Even today, it is still the primary source for natural pearls traded in the Middle East.

More than 2000 years ago, pearls were the most precious item you could buy with money.

Julius Caesar was a lover of pearls and once paid 60,000 gold pieces for one single pearl. In the first century before Christ, Caesar passed a law stating that pearls were not for the lower classes.  Even Caesar’s non-successful conquest of the Britons had as one of its goals, access to the valuable river pearls

Queen Elizabeth I was so infatuated with pearls, that she was called the Pearl Queen.

A major turn came when, in 1908, the Japanese noodle producer Kokichi Mikimoto started the first commercial pearl farm. Less successful farmers had been operating in China since the fifteenth century. Mikimoto, aptly known as the pearl-king, had cracked the proverbial oyster by breeding perfectly round pearls and offered them to an enthusiastic world.

Since the 1960s, pearl farmers have been producing pearls to the market standard – and believe me, this is a good thing!  What was historically considered an aristocratic luxury for the high society now became an affordable extravagance. One should not forget that greed nearly killed off the oyster fields in Central American and the Scottish Oyster was nearly driven to extinction. In 1998, the United Kingdom declared it was illegal to fish for pearls.



Creating pearls takes time

To have a pearl farm is to have a very risky business. Creating a pearl takes between 8 months to 6 years. There are factors like illness, water temperature fluctuations, storms and pollution which can ruin a farmer overnight. August 2007, two tropical storms in southern China killed millions of pearl oysters. About half of all cultivated pearls are good enough for the market and less than 5% of those are perfect round pearls.




Four different types of pearls


Akoya pearls

These were the saltwater pearl oysters that Mikimoto started with. The Akoya pearl is now being farmed in China, Tahiti, and Vietnam because of the pollution of their original habitat. Normally the Akoya pearl takes between 8 months to 2 years to develop.

some of my pearls

Some of my pearls


Sometimes up to 5 nuclei can be introduced but normally only two are inserted. Akoya pearls are seldom larger than 9 mm. On average, they are between 2 to 6 mm. Approximately one out of five seeded oysters produce a pearl but only a small part of that is of gem quality.


Sweet Water Pearls


some of my pearls

Some of my pearls


In some of the Venus oysters, up to fifty pearls might be produced, which makes it very valuable.  They produce a large variety of colors, have a very shiny surface and most of the time have a baroque form. Chinese Sweetwater oysters can also be seeded with little beads which then produce a pearl up to 14 mm in diameter.


South Sea Pearls

There are being farmed in Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. This oyster is known for its white, silver, and golden pearls. They take between 2 to 6 years to grow. The oyster can only be seeded with one nucleus. Normally they are around 16 mm but can grow to 20 mm.



Tahiti Pearls

Named after the French Polynesian Island, these are the most sought-after pearls. They were only discovered by Europeans in 1845.  The typical color is blue-green.  The most frequently found color is the dark green one called Fly-Wing. Another variation is pink in combination with a black background color so the eggplant color is created. The rarest and most expensive is the peacock color which is a green–pink combination. These pearls are normally between 8 to 16 mm.



A completely natural pearl

On rare occasions, a truly natural pearl is found. But these are very expensive. Most of the pearls available today are “cultured”. A small rounded piece of “Mother of Pearl” called nacre, along with a part of the original oyster’s mantle, is placed inside the oyster. The oyster is then put back into the protective basket. Cultured pearls produced this way provide consistent quality, size, and color. They can come from freshwater oysters or saltwater oysters. Both can produce wonderful colors and sizes.



From my grandmother and my mother, I have different pearl sets. I sometimes wear them as pearls can lose their shine if kept too long inside a box. Most women will love pearls as they give a chic and mysterious touch to any outfit. Giving pearls as a gift you can never go wrong.



Photo Source: Private Photos



Very interesting article about pearls. I certainly learned a thing or two.Thanks so much for this short educational experience, Taetske. I look forward to more education about the simple yet beautiful things that Mother Earth gives to us freely.

Aug 24.2017 | 08:22 pm


    Good evening Michelle,

    Thank you for visiting my website. It is amazing the different and beautiful things Mother Earth has as gifts for us. I personally love pearls and have them in all colors and shapes. For Christmas, I got a lovely Collier of big Barroc pearls and just now I got a specially made for me ring to match it.
    Pearls give that extra touch to what ever you wear. The company I found in India also has some amazing pieces and their prices are extremely competitive.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 24.2017 | 09:27 pm

Charles Holmes

This is a very interesting article about pearls. My wife and I sell a lot of vintage jewelry that we find at yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores. We come across many pearl necklaces. The only way I can tell if one is good or not is based off the clasp. If the clasp is sterling or gold, I normally know the pearls are pretty good. 

Do you have any tips on how to identify a real pearl from a fake one or a fresh water pearl from a salt water pearl? That information would be great to know. I enjoyed your write up and look forward to hearing back from you. 

Feb 23.2019 | 06:50 pm


    Good evening Charles,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    I can agree with you, good pearls will have a silver or gold clasp sometimes with a small pearl or other stones.

    I am sending you a link and a video, I hope your questions are there with answered.

    This video gives you some tips.

    Here is a link with information on the difference between saltwater and sweet water pearls

    Regards, Taetske

    Feb 23.2019 | 08:18 pm



Hello again. I love all of your information, truely fascinating. I especialy like those natural pearls. Of course they have to be the most expensive ones they can find. Those Jet Black Oval Pearls are next on my list of have to haves. I did not know that they can lose their shine if kept in a box for to long. Thank you again and I am going to have to wear my only set so they can breathe. Where can I find purple colored pearls?

Feb 23.2019 | 06:57 pm


    Good evening Kari,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    I went to have a look at the pearl company in India. 

    Under Pink and Black pearls I found a lavender colored one for $72.05

    Under the Exotic Pearl colors, I found 3 possible candidates.

    Purple color necklace for ·89.90

    5 Lines lavender color for $ 145.00

    Light Purple for $42.05

    I think their prices are very compatible and they have a lot of variety, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and even watches, really nice.

    Regards, Taetske

    Feb 23.2019 | 07:47 pm

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