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Types of Cultured Pearls

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  • Akoya Pearls
    Akoya cultured pearls are primarily grown in the cool to temperate saltwater of Japan (China is the second largest pearl producer) in the Pinctada fucataoyster species.  This temperature allows the pearls to develop highly uniform mineral crystals resulting in brilliant luster.  Thus, many experts believe Akoya cultured pearls have the highest luster of all types.  It takes between 8 and 24 months for a pearl to grow, although most farmers wait at least one year in hopes of a larger pearl. The size can range from 2 - 10 millimeters (average size is 6 - 7 mm) and the color are rose, silver/white, cram, gold, and grey/blue.
  • Tahitian Pearls
    Tahitian cultured pearls are grown in the Pinctada margaritifera cumingi oyster species (also known as the Black Lipped Oyster) found throughout its native waters of French Polynesia.  Only 1 in 10,000 of these oysters produces a pearl and because of this rarity, they can not be mass produced. It takes 22 - 26 months for a pearl to grow and the size range from 8 - 18 millimeters (average size is 9 - 10 mm), but there are some extremes. The largest Tahitian cultured pearl ever found was 25 mm! Tahitian cultured pearl color includes peacock (the most popular), black/black, black/grey, silver/grey, black/rose, black/blue, black/green, and aubergine (eggplant).
  • South Sea Pearls
    South Sea cultured pearls are grown in the warm, pure waters off of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Thailand in the oyster species Pinctada maxima (the two varieties are known as the Silver Lipped and Gold Lipped oysters). These pearls (and their shells) are the largest and rarest grown.  It takes 20 - 24 months to grow the pearl and there are many complications that can cause them to die. South Sea cultured pearls size ranges from 9 - 10 mm (average size is 13 mm) and their colors include silver, silver/pink, white, white/pink, white/gold, and gold.
  • Freshwater pearls
    Freshwater cultured pearls are formed in lakes, rivers, ponds, and other freshwater bodies mainly in China (Japan and the U.S. also produce these pearls). Up to 40 pearls can be grown at once in one mussel (such as the Hyriosis cumingi) and for a long time there was time there was much emphasis on producing large quantities, but today science has improved the farming techniques resulting in higher quality freshwater cultured pearls.  It takes 3 - 7 years for the pearls to grow and their size range from 3 - 13 millimeters (average size is 6 mm). Freshwater cultured pearls come in a variety of pastel shades including white, pink, peach, lavender, grey, yellow, and cream.


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