When choosing your pearls, consider pearl size and length in particular. We recommend smaller pearl sizes and shorter strands for a sporty and casual look and larger pearls and longer strands for more formal or festive occasions.
This saltwater cultured pearl is either white or cream, with a rose or ivory overtone. Akoya pearls may also be treated to achieve a black body colour. They feature the highest lustre of all cultured pearls. Sizewise, Akoya pearls range from 5 to 11 mm, with the 10 and 11 mm sizes being rare finds. The most common size and best value is between 7.0 and 7.5 mm.
Freshwater cultured pearls are cultivated in freshwater mussels, usually the triangle shell mussel. These mussels accept a larger number of tissue grafts – up to 32 per mussel – and are also much less sensitive to changes in water temperature than saltwater oysters. Their growing season is thus longer and pearl production higher than saltwater species, making freshwater pearls considerably less costly to cultivate. They are primarily produced in China and come in various pastel shades of white, black, pink, peach, lavender, plum, purple, and tangerine, depending on the type of mussel. The typical size of freshwater pearls is 2-16 mm, with 7-8 mm being the most common.
South Sea pearls are saltwater pearls cultivated from the White-Lip, or Pinctada maxima, oysters. They are exceptionally smooth and round 10-20 mm pearls – the largest of any pearls – and typically white, silver or golden. Naturally occurring South Sea pearls are extremely rare. South Sea pearls are farmed in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Tahitian pearls come from Black-Lip, or Pinctada margaritifera, oysters living in the warm waters off the islands of French Polynesia. They are the only pearls to naturally achieve a black body colour and are typically very large, 9-16 mm. Tahitian pearls, although mostly dark, can come in a wide range of hues, including black, grey, silver, green, blue and purple. Naturally occurring Tahitian pearls are extremely rare, and today most of these pearls are cultured.
Conch pearls (pronounced “konk”) are among the most rare and valuable pearls in the world, as attempts to culture them have not yet been successful. These usually flamingo-pink pearls are produced primarily by the Queen Conch, or Strombus gigas – a large snail that lives primarily in the Caribbean Sea near southern Florida. Since the meat of the Queen conch is prized as food, it is generally harvested by fishermen, who may find one acceptable Conch pearl in every 10,000 to 20,000 shells. Conch pearls are usually small – 3 mm or less – and baroque or oval in shape. Although usually pink, Conch pearls can occasionally be yellow, brown, white, or golden as well.