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types of cultured pearls

Different types of cultured pearls

Black pearls, frequently referred to as Black Tahitian Pearls, are highly valued because of their rarity; the culturing process for them dictates a smaller volume output and can never be mass produced. This is due to bad health and/or non-survival of the process, rejection of the nucleus (the small object such as a tiny fish, grain of sand or crab that slips naturally inside an oyster's shell or inserted by a human), and their sensitivity to changing climatic and ocean conditions. Before the days of cultured pearls, black pearls were rare and highly valued for the simple reason that white pearl oysters rarely produced natural black pearls, and black pearl oysters rarely produced any natural pearls at all. Since pearl culture technology, the black pearl oyster found in Tahiti and many other Pacific Island area has been extensively used for producing cultured pearls. The rarity of the black cultured pearl is now a "comparative" issue. The black cultured pearl is rare when compared to Chinese freshwater cultured pearls, and Japanese and Chinese Akoya cultured pearls, and is more valuable than these pearls. However, it is more abundant than the south sea pearl, which is more valuable than the black cultured pearl. This is simply due to the fact that the black pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera is far more abundant than the elusive, rare, and larger south sea pearl oyster - Pinctada maxima, which cannot be found in lagoons, but which must be dived for in a rare number of deep ocean habitats. Black cultured pearls from the black pearl oyster — Pinctada margaritifera — are NOT south sea pearls, although they are often mistakenly described as black south sea pearls. In the absence of an official definition for the pearl from the black oyster, these pearls are usually referred to as "black Tahitian pearls". The correct definition of a south sea pearl — as described by CIBJO and the GIA — is a pearl produced by the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster. South sea pearls are the color of their host Pinctada maxima oyster — and can be white, silver, pink, gold, cream, and any combination of these basic colors, including overtones of the various colors of the rainbow displayed in the pearl nacre of the oyster body itself.


Pinctada Fucata


Akoya
(Grown in Japan and China)

Akoya pearls are the classic cultured pearls of Japan. They are the most lustrous of all pearls found anywhere in the world. In recent years, China has been successful in producing Akoya pearls within their own waters. However, at this time they are unable to produce as brilliant a lustre as high quality Japanese Akoya cultured pearls.

 


Pinctada Maxima


White South Sea
(Grown in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Phillipines)

White South Sea cultured pearls are grown in large tropical or semi-tropical oysters in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia and other Pacific countries. They generally range in size from 10mm to 20mm and command premium prices because of their relative rarity and large size.

 

 


Pinctada Margaritifera
 


Tahitian
(Grown in French Polynesia)

Tahitian cultured pearls are grown in a variety of large pearl oysters found primarily in French Polynesia. Their beautiful, unique colors (which can range from light grey to black, and green to purple) and large size can command very high prices.

 

 

 

 


Hyriopsis Schlegeli


Freshwater
(Grown in Japan, China, and The United States)

Freshwater pearls can be found in bays and rivers throughout the world. They are easily cultivated from freshwater mollusks in China, Japan and the United States. Many are less lustrous than salt water cultured pearls but their low price, unique shapes and colors have made them popular jewelry items in recent years.

 

 


Pteria Penguina


Mabe
(Grown in Japan, Indonesia, French Polynesia and Australia)

Mabe pearls are hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shell of an oyster rather than within the oyster’s body. They generally are used in earrings or rings which conceal their flat backs.