The term “cultured pearl” denotes a pearl that has been created via a “seeding” process, the seed usually is a round bead that forms the nucleus of the pearl. This bead is inserted into the reproductive organ of the mollusc and it is left in for a period of time to be covered by the naturally occurring nacre of the mollusc, this same material is found in “mother of pearl” meaning the inside of the mollusc shell.
From the black lip oyster (Pinctada margaritifera-cumingi), generally pearls that are “black” or “silver” in colour, although a large variety of colours are available, and secondary colourations or more are common through most pearls from the region. These pearls are farmed almost exclusively in one of the “blue lagoons” of French Polynesia. Tahitian pearls commonly come in many shapes, such as baroque, circle, semi baroque, oval, teardrop, button, semi round, near round and the most valuable, round.
South Sea Pearls
From the silver lipped pearl of the golden lipped pearl (Pinctada Maxima), generally white to gold in colour. These pearls are farmed in regions of Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia & the Philippines, South Sea pearls can be the largest of all pearls in the world, as they have the largest mollusc and also longest cultivation times, leading to them being highly desirable and also expensive. South sea pearls come in many shapes, such as baroque, circle, semi baroque, oval, teardrop, button, semi round, near round and the most valuable, round.
From the Akoya oyster (Pinctada fucuta martensii), these pearls are farmed primarily in Japan and in China (in China Pinctada chemnitzii), Japan is the only country where Akoya pearls of 8.5mm exist and as such those pearls are unique. Japan took the idea of cultured pearl farming from Australia and applied it to the Akoya molluscl, and since then has led production and processing of Akoya pearls. These pearls are the most difficult to grow due to the low survival rates of the host oysters, of the survivors of nucleation only 40% successfully encircle the seed with nacre, and only 5% of those are considered “high quality”. Akoya pearls come in a range of colours and shapes and are considered to be some of the most desirable pearls in the world.
From the Biwa pearl mussel (Hypriopsis schlegeli) and triangle shell mussel (Hypriopsis cumingii) and other hybrid species, generally from China. The freshwater pearl is the most affordable pearl and most common, coming in a variety of colours as dying is frequently used to change the pearls from their normal “white” colours to black, blue, red, brown and other colours, the pearls come in different shaped and sizes, such as baroque, circle, semi baroque, oval, teardrop, button, semi round, near round and the most valuable, round.
Freeform pearls that grow either naturally or as a side effect of nucleating pearls, they are usually irregularly shaped and have a high lustre, they come ina variety of colours, although Japanese akoya pearl keshi’s are generally more grey in colour.