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When we think of pearls, we often imagine royalty and natural beauty. These precious gems, formed within the soft tissue of molluscs, are timeless jewels amongst collectors. However, the formation of each pearl is distinctive. From their origin and formation to their colour and size, pearls vary widely, offering a rich diversity that can suit every taste and occasion. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of pearls and what makes each unique.

1. Akoya Pearls

Origin: Japan, China

Characteristics: Akoya pearls are often considered the classic pearl, synonymous with elegance and sophistication. They are typically white or cream-coloured, though they can also be found in shades of blue, silver, and even gold. Known for their high lustre and almost mirror-like reflection, Akoya pearls are generally smaller, ranging from 2mm to 10mm.

Ideal For: Formal occasions and traditional jewellery pieces, such as single-strand necklaces and stud earrings.

Dawn Long Drop Earrings

2. Freshwater Pearls

Origin: China, United States

Characteristics: Freshwater pearls are the most versatile and abundant type of pearls. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, including white, pink, peach, and lavender. These pearls are cultivated in freshwater lakes and rivers and tend to have a softer lustre compared to Akoya pearls. Sizes range from 2mm to over 15mm.

Ideal For: Casual and everyday wear, as well as creative, contemporary jewellery designs.

Limited Edition Sapphire and Pearl Drop Earrings

3. Tahitian Pearls

Origin: French Polynesia

Characteristics: Known for their exotic and dramatic appearance, Tahitian pearls are famous for their dark, natural colours. These pearls are not just black; they come in a stunning array of shades, including green, blue, purple, and peacock (a mix of colours that resemble a peacock’s feathers). They typically range from 8mm to 18mm in size.

Ideal For: Making a bold fashion statement and for unique, standout pieces.

Dawn Tahitian Pearl Cocktail Ring

4. South Sea Pearls

Origin: Australia, Indonesia, Philippines

Characteristics: South Sea pearls are the largest and among the rarest pearls in the world. They are known for their impressive size, ranging from 9mm to over 20mm, and their thick nacre. These pearls exhibit a satin-like lustre and come in shades of white, silver, and gold. Their rarity and size make them highly valuable.

Ideal For: Luxury jewellery and special occasions where you want to make a grand impression.

Dawn Two-Part Stud Drop Earrings

5. Cortez Pearls

Origin: Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Characteristics: Cortez pearls are one of the rarest types, harvested from the rainbow-lipped oyster. They are known for their unique and vibrant colours, which can include shades of purple, green, and blue. Their lustre is exceptional, often described as a “metallic” shine. Sizes range from 8mm to 12mm.

Ideal For: Collectors and those looking for something truly unique and rare.

Whispering Pearl Drop Pendant

6. Mabe Pearls

Origin: Japan, Australia, French Polynesia

Characteristics: Mabe pearls, also known as blister pearls, are grown against the inside shell of an oyster, giving them a flat back. They are often used in jewellery that requires a larger surface area, such as pendants and earrings. Mabe pearls come in various colours, including white, pink, and blue.

Ideal For: Jewellery pieces that require a larger, flatter pearl, such as brooches and statement pendants.

7. Baroque Pearls

Origin: Various, including China, Japan, and the South Seas

Characteristics: Baroque pearls are unique for their irregular and non-spherical shapes. They can be found in all types of pearls, including freshwater, Akoya, South Sea, and Tahitian. Baroque pearls come in a range of sizes and colours, often showcasing striking and organic forms that differ from the traditional round shape. Their lustre can be just as high as round pearls, adding to their unique appeal.

Ideal For: Bold, artistic jewellery pieces that emphasize individuality and creativity. Baroque pearls are perfect for those who appreciate the unique and unconventional.

Limited Edition Garnet and Pearl Two-Part Stud Drop Earrings

Choosing the Right Pearl for You

When selecting pearls, consider the following factors:

  • Occasion: Are you looking for everyday wear or something for a special event?
  • Personal Style: Do you prefer classic and timeless, or bold and unique?
  • Budget: Pearls vary significantly in price based on their type, size, and quality.

Caring for Your Pearls

Regardless of the type, pearls require special care. Always store them separately from other jewelry to avoid scratches, keep them away from chemicals like perfumes and hairsprays, and clean them gently with a soft cloth after wearing.

Pearls, with their rich diversity and natural beauty, can complement any style and occasion. By understanding the different types, you can make an informed choice and find the perfect pearl that resonates with your personal aesthetic and needs. Whether you’re drawn to the classic allure of Akoya pearls or the exotic charm of Tahitian pearls, there’s a perfect pearl out there waiting for you.