A Guide to Types of Pearls which have captivated us for centuries with their timeless elegance and ethereal beauty. These lustrous gemstones, formed within the depths of the sea, have become synonymous with sophistication and grace. With so many types and variations available, how do you know what you’re buying? In this blog post, we will delve into the enchanting world of pearls, exploring the different types of pearls and the exquisite jewellery they create.
- Natural Pearls:
Natural pearls are formed organically in oysters or mollusks when an irritant, such as a grain of sand, enters their shells. The mollusk secretes layers of nacre around the irritant, resulting in the formation of a pearl. Natural pearls are exceedingly rare and highly valued for their unique shapes, colours, and individuality.
- Cultured Pearls:
Cultured pearls are the product of human intervention in the pearl cultivation process. Skilled pearl farmers carefully introduce irritants, such as beads or tissue, into mollusks to initiate pearl formation. Over time, the mollusk covers the irritant with layers of nacre, creating a cultured pearl. Cultured pearls have revolutionized the pearl industry, allowing for greater availability and a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
2.1 Akoya Pearls:
Akoya pearls are renowned for their timeless elegance and lustrous beauty. They are primarily cultivated in Japan and are celebrated for their round shape, smooth surface, and exquisite luster. Akoya pearls are typically white or cream-colored, with overtones of pink or silver. They are a popular choice for classic pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
2.2 Freshwater Pearls:
Freshwater pearls are cultivated in freshwater mussels and offer a captivating array of shapes, sizes, and colours. These types of pearls are known for their versatility and affordability. Freshwater pearls can be found in an array of pastel hues, including white, pink, lavender, and peach. They are often irregularly shaped, making them perfect for modern and artistic jewellery designs. All of the pearls used in our small selection of pearl jewellery are made with cultured freshwater pearls, like the Etta Hoop.
2.3 South Sea Pearls:
South Sea pearls are the epitome of luxury and opulence. Cultivated in the warm waters of the South Pacific, these pearls are renowned for their large size, exceptional luster, and breathtaking colors. Ranging from white and golden to rare shades of silver and blue, South Sea pearls are highly coveted by collectors and connoisseurs. Their grandeur is often showcased in exquisite necklaces and statement pieces.
2.4 Tahitian Pearls:
Tahitian pearls, also known as black pearls, originate from the French Polynesian islands. Contrary to their name, these pearls exhibit a stunning array of colors, including black, gray, blue, green, and peacock hues. The unique dark body color and iridescent overtones make Tahitian pearls highly sought after for their exotic and dramatic appeal. They are frequently incorporated into bold and contemporary jewellery designs
2.5 Seed Pearls
Seed pearls are exceptionally small pearls, typically measuring 2mm or less in diameter. They are often referred to as "seed" pearls due to their resemblance to small seeds. These pearls are usually the result of irregular nacre deposition around a small irritant in a mollusk, much like other types of pearls.
Historically, seed pearls were highly sought after and used to create intricate and delicate jewellery pieces. They were particularly popular during the Victorian era, where they were often incorporated into elaborate designs, such as brooches, earrings, and tiaras. Seed pearls were meticulously strung together to create lacy patterns or delicate strands that adorned various jewellery pieces.
Due to their tiny size, seed pearls require careful handling and meticulous craftsmanship. Stringing them together or setting them into jewellery can be a challenging task, demanding great precision. However, the exquisite beauty and delicate appearance of seed pearls make them a prized choice for vintage and antique jewellery collectors.
In contemporary jewellery , seed pearls are less commonly used. Their small size makes them more challenging to work with compared to larger pearls, and they are often replaced by other types of small gemstones or beads. However, they can still be found in unique and intricate designs. We have them in our Akoya Hoops!
When considering seed pearls, it is important to note that their size and delicate nature can affect their durability and longevity. Special care should be taken to protect them from damage, such as avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and excessive impact.
2.6 Coin Pearls
Coin pearls are a distinct type of freshwater pearls known for their flattened, disc-like shape, resembling a coin or a button. These pearls are cultivated in freshwater mollusks, particularly in China, and are valued for their unique and eye-catching appearance.
The process of cultivating coin pearls involves the insertion of a flat, disc-shaped nucleus into the mollusk, which stimulates the formation of a pearl. Over time, the mollusk deposits layers of nacre around the nucleus, resulting in a pearl with a flattened and round shape.
What sets coin pearls apart is their shape and surface. Unlike traditional round pearls, coin pearls have a flat surface and a relatively uniform thickness throughout. The surface of a coin pearl can display various textures, including smooth, slightly rippled, or even dimpled patterns, adding to their visual appeal.
Coin pearls come in a range of sizes, typically ranging from 10mm to 20mm in diameter. Their size, combined with their distinctive shape, makes them a popular choice for statement jewellery pieces. The larger size of coin pearls allows them to showcase their unique characteristics and create a bold and eye-catching effect.
Coin pearls can be found in various natural colors, including white, cream, pink, lavender, and even metallic hues. The wide array of colors adds to the versatility of coin pearls, making them suitable for different styles and occasions. Their natural colors can be enhanced or dyed to create a more vibrant or customized look, providing further design possibilities.
When it comes to jewellery , coin pearls are often used as focal points in necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Their large size and unique shape make them ideal for showcasing individual pearls as centerpieces or incorporating them into innovative and contemporary designs. Coin pearl jewelry can range from elegant and classic to modern and artistic, depending on the design and combination of materials used.
It's worth noting that coin pearls, like other freshwater pearls, are more affordable compared to saltwater pearls. This makes them an attractive option for those seeking the beauty and allure of pearls without the higher price tag.
Pearls have captivated humanity for centuries, their mesmerising lustre and delicate charm making them a cherished gemstone. With a wide array of types and variations available, pearl jewellery offers endless possibilities for expressing personal style and creating exquisite pieces. Whether you choose the classic elegance of Akoya pearls, the vibrant allure of Tahitian pearls, or the grandeur of South Sea pearls, pearls are an enduring symbol of sophistication and grace. Embrace the allure of pearls and adorn yourself with their timeless beauty.
Bixby and Co Jewellery - wearable Sunshine designed and made in Sydney Australia.