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Pearls Education

Pearl Types

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1. White South Sea Pearls

These fascinating pearls are famous for their large sizes and luminous luster which shows as more of a soft glow rather than a high, glossy shine. Their large sizes are distinctive; pearls begin at 8.0-9.0mm and can get as large as 21.0mm, with their average size hovering around 10.0-15.0mm or so. Their host oyster, the Pinctada maxima silver-lipped saltwater oyster can reach up to 12-inches in diameter at maturity- the size of dinner plate! Found in the warm, tropical waters of the South Seas, P. maxima inhabits the coasts of Northern Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines, although it is the Australian White South Sea pearls that are acknowledged to have the finest quality with the brightest natural white and silver colors.

2. Golden South Sea Pearls

Perhaps the most distinctive off all pearl types, the Golden South Sea pearl shimmers with naturally golden hues ranging from Brut champagne to deep, 24K gold tone. These pearls are also cultured in the Pinctada maxima saltwater oyster species, however these oysters have a distinguishing golden lip which colors the outer mantle and mother of pearl layers spectacular shades of yellow to deeper gold. Because the Golden South Sea pearl is cultured in the same oyster genus, these pearls also have above average sizes, ranging from 8.0-9.0mm up through 20.0mm, with an average size range between 10.0-15.0mm. The most coveted Golden South Sea pearls feature a deep 22K to 24K color, which is considered extremely rare.

3. Tahitian Pearls

These black beauties rocketed onto the pearl scene during the 1970's; the very first harvest of cultured black Tahitians numbered 71 pearls in total in 1971. Quickly propelled to massive popularity by Salvadore Assael, a prominent New York pearl dealer who created a marketing campaign for Tahitian pearls featuring their stunning natural colors and overtones. The pearls are cultured in the Pinctada margaritifera saltwater oyster (translated, margaritifera means "lovely one") can be found in the warm tropical waters of French Polynesia, and typically reaches sizes of up to 1 foot in diameter. The oyster produces large pearls that range from 8.0mm up to 17.0mm or so, sometimes larger, and can live for up to 30 years in the wild. Their color classification like other pearls is split into two parts- body color and overtone. Tahitian pearls' body colors generally range from a light, dove grey to very dark charcoal grey and jet black, while their famous overtones include peacock, blue-green, aubergine (eggplant purple), rose or cherry, silver and steel or any combination thereof- truly the Tahitian pearl is one of the most colorful pearls in the world today.

4. Akoya Pearls

The classic, original cultured pearl, the Akoya pearl is known for it's relatively small size, perfectly round shapes and bright, highly reflective luster shimmering with rose, silver or creamy overtones. The cultured Akoya pearl's origins date back to Japan in the early 1900's, although China has recently begun competing on the world stage as a leading Akoya pearl producing region. Akoya pearls are cultured in the smallest pearl-bearing saltwater oyster of the oyster family, the Pinctada fucata martensii, which produces pearls ranging in size from the tiniest 2.0mm up to 10.0mm or so, with the average sizes ranging from 6.5-8.5mm. Colors range from white to green, silver, pink, blue and gold, with white being the most popular and traditional hue.

Pearl Care, Storage and Cleaning

  • Put your pearls on last and take them off first.
  • Gently wipe your pearls with a soft cloth after you remove them for the day.
  • Immediately wipe your pearls clean with a soft cloth if they get exposed to acid.
  • Avoid long-term exposure to strong light or heat above 140°F (60°C).
  • Have your pearls restrung every one or two years, especially if you wear them consistently.
  • Fasten any clasps or pins before storing your pearls.
  • Keep your pearls in a separate compartment, away from other jewelry.
  • Never store pearls in a plastic bag. Some plastics can emit a chemical that, over time, will cause your pearls to deteriorate.
  • Do not keep pearl stored in a safe or safety deposit box for an extended period of time. Or Keep a glass of water inside a vault or safe if you must store your pearls there. Othervise it may cause pearls to dehydrate
  • Keep your pearls stored in a jewelry box or other case. Avoid jewelry boxes with windows that expose your jewelry to light. Long-term exposure to sunlight can cause your pearls to turn yellow.
  • Gently apply a baby shampoo or another mild soap using a soft manicure brush.
  • Only use mineral water or distilled water to rinse your pearls. Gently dab the water and soap of your pearls with a dry, soft cloth.
  • Polish your pearls with a dry, soft cloth to maintain their luster.
  • Avoid jewelry cleaners or ultrasonic cleaners.