Fresh Water Cultured Pearls
Most people, when they hear Fresh Water cultured pearls, think of what we in the trade call “rice kris pie” pearls; rice shaped wrinkle pearls. These inexpensive pearls were produced in China in 80s. The market was flood with them, and department stores sold twists of twenty strands. They had their moment and went out of style.
The farmers in China were forced to change their strategy. Instead, they switch to a different Fresh Water mussel and started leave the pearls in the water longer. They also discovered tat they could grind less expensive pearls into round nuclei and put them back into mussel to grow bigger and rounder premium sizes.
The result, about 2 - 3 years ago, Chinese farmer started to produce a whole new range of qualities; 6-8 mm white Fresh Water pearls that look just like Akoya Pearls, although they are not perfectly rounded and do not have the luster. Also, 6-9 mm fancy colored pearls, round to off round, in lavenders, pinks, and peaches; and a few large round strands in mixed fancy colors that are similar in size feeling to mixed color Tahitian strands.
Most of the Chinese Fresh Water production is still commercial quality pearls and imitate quality Akoya pearls at half the price. But, the new qualities and colors from China are indication of better quality pearls starting to be produced.