Frequently asked questions
Which ones are freshwater pearls and which ones are cultured pearls?
Pearls can be cultured in freshwater or in seawater as well, depending on the oyster or mussel they are cultured in. So we can talk about cultured freshwater pearls or cultured seawater pearls. On this website you will mainly find cultured freshwater pearls.
How come that these pearls are genuine pearls and they don't cost a fortune?
There are two main types of pearls: natural and cultured pearls. Natural pearls are very expensive as they are rare to find in wild. The natural pearls are coming from oysters, mussels found in sea or lakes and rivers. People used to dive and look for these pearls by opening and sacrificing hundreds and thousands of mollusks to find a few pearls. Unfortunately the rising of desire in the pearls made the industry overharvest the mussels and now most of them are endangered. Natural pearls can mostly be bought through antique trade or auctions.
In the 1920's man found a way to culture pearls and make genuine pearls available at affordable prices. Pearls can be cultured in freshwater (lakes and rivers) or in seawater (sea, ocean). Both natural and cultured pearls are formed when a small irritant gets between the mantle tissue and the shell. In case of the cultured pearls, man inserts one or more piece/s of shell (grains or beads of freshwater mussels) into the oyster or mussel and then places it back to sea- or freshwater for some time. The time of culturing can be from 6 months to 5 years depending of the type of mussel or oyster and the desired results of the pearls. After the insertion the oyster starts to form a pearly surface around the irritant forming layers and layers of nacre around it.
Neither natural nor cultured pearls are usually perfectly round. The most symmetrically round is the rarest and the most expensive type of pearl; though only the roundness doesn't necessary means that it is a high quality item as the valuation factors also include size, shape, quality of surface, orient and luster.
There is the third type of pearls, the artificial pearls which pearls are not coming from oysters but man-made, though they may consist parts of shells or oysters. These imitation pearls are a different story altogether. In most cases, a glass bead is dipped into a solution made from fish scales. This coating is thin and may eventually wear off. One can usually tell an imitation by biting on it. Fake pearls glide across your teeth, while the layers of nacre on real pearls feel gritty. The Island of Mallorca is known for its imitation pearl industry.
Today, if you want real pearls, you will probably have to purchase the cultured variety. Natural pearls (those made without man’s assistance) have become so rare and expensive, that for the vast majority of people cultured is the only option. However, top quality natural and cultured pearls are identical to the naked eye in terms of appearance and quality. Only under an X-ray machine can a trained eye make any difference. Cultured pearls tend to have a larger core or nucleus. On this website you will find mostly cultured freshwater pearls only.
How can you tell if the pearls are genuine?
You can usually tell an imitation by slightly biting on it. Fake pearls glide across your teeth, while the layers of nacre on real pearls feel gritty.
Are the peacock colors of these freshwater pearls naturally dark?
Some of them yes, some are not. The cultured freshwater pearls you find on this website will mostly have naturally light colors, like ivory-white, peachy-pink or purple-lavender colors. The other and dark colors are dyed or color enhanced. The dyed colors might fade a little in years of time if you don't follow the instructions of how to care about your freshwater pearls.
Are the sea-shell pearls real?
Sea shell pearls are man made pearls. The base is a shell bead which is covered in multiple layers of grounded mother of pearl then it has been polished and smoothed. It consists the same material than the cultured pearl, but in this case the pearl does not come out from the oyster. Shell pearls can be made in larger sizes, various colors and they are usually perfectly round, flawless and smooth.
What color shall I choose?
Most experts will agree that the decision about the color should be based upon what will look good on the person who will wear the pearls. Some say that dark and olive-skinned people and Orientals look radiant in clear, vivid, cool colors like pinkish, ivory/white, or peacock. People with light skin tones look great with warm colors. However it is also up to individual preferences as the white or light color pearls look whiter on a dark-skinned person and the dark color pearls are more contrasting on the lighter skin tone people.
When you are purchasing pearls for others, try to remember of the color clothes they usually wear and look good in. Versatility and price can be a helpful guidance choosing the jewellery. What kind of occasion are you buying the pearls for? If you are looking for something to wear as often as possible, try to pick a color that will match most of your wardrobe. If you want to have a piece of jewellery for a special occasion you might need to think finding the best matching pearls with the outfit that you have dreamed wearing on the day.
Do you still have questions?