Cultured pearls: what they are and how they're made


A cultured pearl is a pearl that is formed inside a living oyster with the help of human intervention. The process of culturing pearls was developed in Japan in the early 1900s, and it is now the primary way that pearls are produced.

To culture a pearl, a small bead (called a nucleus) is inserted into the oyster. The oyster then coats the nucleus with layers of nacre, which is the same material that makes up the oyster's shell. Over time, the nacre builds up to form a pearl.

Cultured pearls are just as beautiful as natural pearls, and they are much more affordable. In fact, over 95% of the pearls on the market today are cultured pearls.

Cultured pearls can be grown in either saltwater or freshwater oysters. The type of oyster and the conditions in which it is grown will affect the size, shape, color, and luster of the pearl.


pearls in oyster Peter's Vaults

Here are some of the different types of cultured pearls:

Akoya pearls:
Akoya pearls are the most common type of cultured pearl. They are saltwater pearls that are grown in Japan and China. Akoya pearls are typically small and round, with white or cream-colored bodies and a bright luster. But there are a rarer breed that is a light metallic blue that is just gorgeous.

Japanese Blue Akoya Pearl Strands-Peter's Vaults

South Sea pearls:
South Sea pearls are the largest and most valuable type of cultured pearl. They are saltwater pearls that are grown in Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. South Sea pearls can be white, cream, gold, or even black in color, and they have a deep, silky luster. The most sought after are the "24K gold" ones that have a deep, pure gold color to them, hence the 24K gold name.


South Sea Pearls in natural colors- Peter's Vaults


Tahitian pearls:
Tahitian pearls are saltwater pearls that are grown in French Polynesia. Tahitian pearls are known for their unique colors, which can range from black to gray to green to peacock blues. The term peacock comes from the exquisite rainbow of colors, resembling a peacock and these are the most sought after when it comes to the Tahitian Pearl

Peacock  Baroque Tahitian Pearls Peter's Vaults


Freshwater pearls:
Freshwater pearls are the most affordable type of cultured pearl. They are grown in lakes and rivers in China, Japan, and the United States. Freshwater pearls can be found in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors, including white, cream, pink, and purple.

 Freshwater pearls in oyster- Peter's Vaults

Cultured pearls are a beautiful and versatile gemstone that can be worn for any occasion. They can be dressed up or down, and they look great with any outfit. If you are looking for a piece of jewelry that is both elegant and affordable, cultured pearls are a great option.

So there you have it folks. A tiny foray into the incredible world of pearls.

So what's your favorite type of pearl? comment below

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on X (Twitter) or Facebook. Thank you!

~ Peter Lopez | Peter’s Vaults


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