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pearl-types-headThe scarcity of natural pearls, makes them rare and hard to find today. Molluscs still produce natural pearls, but these underwater gifts of mother nature are discovered with far less frequency than they were years ago. However, thanks to modern pearl farming techniques, finding a beautiful pearl is no longer as difficult as it used to be.

Cultured Pearls

There are basically three different types of saltwater cultured pearls: South Sea, Akoya and Tahitian. Whilst sharing similar characteristics, they can look vastly different and each pearl type comes from a different kind of Oyster. Freshwater cultured pearls are produced in a wide variety of farms, anywhere from a pond to a lake, with thousands of mussels.

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Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are formed in mussels that live in ponds, lakes and rivers. The pearl farmer inserts a piece of donor mantle tissue directly into the mussel’s mantle which then forms a pearl made up of solid nacre, one of the reasons why freshwater pearls are so durable.

One mussel can yield up to 40 freshwater pearls from 50 implants. The growth period for freshwater cultured pearls ranges from two to six years and each mussel can be implanted up to two times.

People often think that freshwater pearls are inferior to saltwater pearls but are now finding that the best of them are comparable in quality to their saltwater counterparts.


Similar in size to Akoya cultured pearls, ranging from 2mm to 13mm (although much rarer in larger sizes). On average, most freshwater cultured pearls measure between 4mm and 7mm.

2mm 3mm 4mm 5mm 6mm 7mm 8mm 9mm 10mm 11mm


Because the vast majority of freshwater cultured pearls are nucleated with pieces of mantle tissue only, only about 2% are actually round. But because they are produced in such vast quantities, this is still a very large number.


Freshwater cultured pearls vary widely in colour, most often white or cream or natural shades of yellow, orange and purple. Some are immersed in bleach and flooded with fluorescent light and others are dyed.

white light cream dark cream yellow orange
salmon pink purple silver