Saltwater pearls are much more valuable than
freshwater pearls, with the notable exception of
Kasumi Pearls. Think of it this way:
saltwater pearls are Princess Grace, freshwater
pearls are available at the discount centers that
have groceries too.
My Akoya pearls are
comparable to Mikimoto in quality, but without the
Mikimoto price. Values are based on
pearl shape, color, size, surface texture, luster,
and 'nacre', which is the depth and thickness of the
'skin' of the individual pearl. If the person
from whom you are buying pearls cannot give you this
information, then you may want to shop a bit more.
The gradations are from A to AAA in the categories of
surface texture, luster, and nacre.
from nearly round to round to perfect round, and
then there are the baroque, which range from a
slight drop shape all the way to shapes which have
no other name besides baroque. I will have
pieces because I
have had so many requests for them. Baroque
Pearls are not 'defective' or 'second grade' Pearls;
they are an entirely separate category to which all
of the same standards apply for quality.
Baroque Pearls are for those Pearl lovers who want
to be certain that their Pearls will be noticed and
recognized as genuine at a glance.
Most of my Pearl strands will fall into the 'perfect
round' group, with an occasional foray into 'round'
if the rarity of the color justifies it. All
of this information will be listed with each pearl
item. Virtually all other Pearl jewelry will
be custom designed for you; only occasionally will
Earrings, Rings or Pendants be available as stock
items, so if you see one on the Pearls page, grab it
The Makings of a Pearl
Pearls begin when a grain of sand, another piece of
pearl or any other irritant enters the
oyster’s shell. To protect itself the oyster
secretes multiple layers of a calcium carbonate
substance called ‘nacre’ around the foreign object
to isolate it from the rest of the oyster. After a
few years, the original irritant is covered in a
silky coat and that is a pearl.
The term 'natural' is questionable when it comes to
Pearls. Cultured Pearls are natural too, not
synthetic in any way. The correct term is
rarely used, and that term is 'wild,' meaning that
the oyster is not part of a Pearl farm. Both
wild (natural) and cultured pearls are born and grow
inside live oysters. The difference between the two
is that natural (wild) pearls are formed by chance,
and cultured pearls result from man’s assistance by
deliberately introducing an irritant into
(nucleating) the oyster. Today, most pearls are
cultured; the only way to tell the difference is to
drill the Pearl and examine the center to see what
started the process. The occasional Pearl
found in an oyster at a seafood restaurant is wild,
and generally not gem quality although myths still
abound regarding the 'big perfect pearl' that
someone supposedly found in a restaurant oyster.
The colors of my Pearls are always NATURAL.
This means that I do not carry Pearls that have been
taken from their hosts and then dyed or externally
colored. The colors of my Pearls are the
natural result of the water conditions in which the
oysters live. Different levels of various
minerals account for the differences in color.
Changes in the levels of these factors will
sometimes result in Pearls with more than one color
How to Buy Pearls:
When buying Round Pearls, there are six key factors that
one must consider:
LUSTER – Luster is the brightness, sheen and/or glow
of the pearl. Bright luster is the combination of
surface quality and the inner glow of the pearl.
With high quality pearls a glow will seem to emanate
from within the pearl, especially when light
reflects from its surface. Pearls that appear dull,
too white, or chalky are not high quality pearls.
SIZE – Usually, the larger the pearl the greater its
SURFACE- A clean surface is a sign of a high quality
pearl. The more flawless a pearl is, the greater
value it will have. A Round Pearl should be clean of
bumps, cracks, and blemishes.
SHAPE – The shape of a Round pearl can be
round, oval, pear shaped, half round, button-type (one
axis flattened) or circled. The chances of
an oyster producing a perfectly round pearl is very
low and the value of a pearl is adjusted
accordingly. Asymmetrical “Baroque” Pearls have
appeal of their own and are generally less
expensive for their size, but are not considered defective, or
COLOR- when purchasing a pearl always look for a
brilliant color. The color range of a cultured pearl
is white to black, golden to pink. When deciding on what color you
want your pearl to be it is best to choose according
to your own skin tone. Overtones of green, blue, and
pink can complement the right skin tone color, but
look unattractive on the wrong skin tone. There has
been somewhat of a general consensus that pink,
black, grey, blue and silver white pearls complement
fair skin tones, while cream, rose-gold and gold
pearls complement darker skin tones.
UNIFORMITY – When selecting more than one pearl,
uniformity matters. Since every pearl produced is
one of a kind the more uniform a strand or pair of
pearls the greater its value. This axiom
applies of course to Round Pearls; the rules change
rather dramatically when applied to Baroque Pearls.
Types of Pearls
Akoya Pearls –
Akoya pearls come from the Akoya
oyster, which usually come from Japan or China
producing a saltwater cultured pearl.
Akoya pearls are the most difficult to grow due to the low
survival rate of the host oysters, only 5 out of 10
will survive the nucleation process.
Baroque Pearls –
The name baroque refers to
irregularly shaped cultured pearls that are very
lustrous and quite attractive. Because of the shape
these pearls have their own appeal as well as their
own intensely loyal admirers.
Freshwater Pearls –
Produced in great abundance
these pearls are the most common and moderately
priced of all pearl because they are cultivated from
freshwater mussels rather than saltwater oysters.
What determines the tone of a freshwater pearl is
the original shell the pearl was cultivated in. The
most famous type of freshwater pearl is the Biwa pearl, which
is grown mostly in Japan, China, and the United
Kasumi Pearl, Also Kasumiga, Kasumigaura, Kasumiga-Ura
Grown only in Lake Kasumi, or Kasumiga-Ura in Japan,
these Pearls in my opinion are the finest of the
Freshwater Pearls, often rivaling the extremely
Baroque versions of some of the South Seas Pearls.
Extremely limited in availability, they command both
high prices and envy. I will present them for
you whenever they are available to me and you may be
assured that these, as with all my gems and pearls,
will be authentic and genuine, not auction-site
Biwa Pearl –
Originally named after a lake in Japan
these pearls are the first cultured pearls without
nucleus, or with an organic nucleus, They are obtained from a
freshwater mussel. Biwa will only appear on my
website should examples from the actual Biwa Lake be
made available to me.
The word Keshi in Japanese means “poppy
seed”. Keshi pearls are sub-products of a pearl;
they form accidentally on cultured pearl oysters and
mussels. They are composed entirely of nacre
and have no nucleus with the exception of the
"reborn" variety, where a tiny Keshi Pearl is used
as a nucleus to encourage the growth of another,
larger pearl. Both Saltwater and Freshwater
versions exist and only the highest quality ones
will appear on my pages. I do not carry
Mabe Pearls –
Mostly grown in Japan, Indonesia, or
Australia these pearls are not grown within the
oyster's body, but rather against the inside of the
shell of the “Penguin Wing,” or Peteria Penguin
oyster. Until recently, any semi-hemispherical,
flat-back, or ‘button’ pearl was called Mabe, and
there are still unscrupulous sellers who blatantly
use the term on those lesser pearls. Mabe pearls
are mostly used in settings that hide their flat
back and reverse side. Colors are White and
Cream, with occasional Pink and Blue available along
with the very rare Black.
South Sea Pearls (also called White South Sea
These pearls are cultured in warm salt
water in tropical or semi-tropical oysters in the
South China Sea, which include the Polynesian
Islands, Borneo, Australia, Indonesia, and other
Pacific countries. The diameter of these pearls
usually ranges from 9 to 14 millimeters.
Colors range from silvery white and platinum to
cream and golden with occasional examples of blue or
pink overtones; there are also rare examples of
bi-colored, which are indicative of changes in the
oyster's environment while the pearl was growing.
South Sea Tahitian Black Cultured Pearls (sometimes
referred to as Giant South Sea Pearls)
– Grown in a variety of large oysters that are
primarily found in the waters of French Polynesia,
the unique color and large size of these pearls
demand a high cost. The color of these pearls can
range from gray to black with green or blue and with
iridescent overtones. These are the largest of all
the black pearls, usually ranging from 8 to 14 millimeters.
Care of Pearls
Pearls are very soft and need special care and
attention. You should never store your pearls in a
jewelry box next to other jewelry, because both the
box and other pieces of jewelry can damage pearls by
scratching and nicking, so keep them in a fabric
lined box or fabric pouch.
Skin produces acids that can harm your pearls with
constant exposure, so if worn regularly pearls
should be wiped down with a soft cloth after every
wear. A pearl necklace will gradually absorb acid
from the skin that will eat into the pearl causing
it to lose its luster. Wiping pearls of with either
a wet or dry soft cloth will prevent dirt from
accumulating and keep perspiration, which is
slightly acidic, from eating away at the nacre.
Showering with your pearls on is actually a pretty
good idea, so long as you gently wipe them dry. If
you wish you can even use a drop of olive oil on
your cleansing cloth to help maintain your pearl’s
Along with being soft and easily scratched, pearls
can be damaged by chemicals and heat. Only use
jewelry cleaner clearly marked safe for pearls.
Never use ultrasonic cleaners. Never use dish or
laundry detergents, bleaches, baking soda or ammonia
based cleansers. Never use toothbrushes, or any
other abrasive materials to clean your pearls.
Always take off your pearls before you apply any
cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume. Avoid heat and
dry air (blow dryers) because both can cause pearls to turn brown,
dry out, and crack.