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All About Pearls: The Queen of Gems

Pearls have been popular and sought after for centuries due to their beautiful lustre and a symbol of beauty. They are considered the queen of gems and gem of queens since they have often been worn by queens as well as other dignitaries. Not only have pearls been used as adornment, but also as medicine and to create cosmetics as well as iridescent paints. As First Lady Jackie Kennedy put it, “Pearls are always appropriate”. Pearls also happen to be the birthstone for the month of June. In this blog, we are going to share with you everything you need to know about pearls, from their creation to the different types of pearls nature has to offer such as Tahitian, Akoya, and south sea pearls.

How are Pearls Formed?

Pearls can be divided into two categories, freshwater and saltwater as well as natural and cultured.

To understand the formation of pearls, let’s divide them into two categories: natural and cultured. Natural pearls, as the name suggests, are pearls in their pure and organic form, free from any man-made treatments or alterations. These are formed when an irritant such as a parasite or a grain of sand enters an oyster, mussel or even clams. A fluid known as nacre is secreted by the oyster to coat the irritant as a defense mechanism. When several layers of nacre are accumulated, natural pearls are formed.

Cultured pearls, on the other hand, are made when specially bred mollusks on pearl farms are introduced to an irritant. This happens as a bead is artificially introduced to the mollusk, which then forms layers of nacre over the bead to create a pearl. Cultured pearls are further divided into two subcategories, namely freshwater pearls and saltwater pearls. 

Freshwater pearls are harvested in areas that surround rivers, lakes and ponds. While they are found in different shapes and colors, they are most commonly white. Baroque or irregular shaped pearls, coin pearls and rice pearls are some examples of river-harvested or freshwater pearls. 

Saltwater pearls are harvested from bigger water-bodies such as seas and oceans. These too are categorized into natural and cultured subcategories, with natural saltwater pearls being so rare at times, only one pearl is sometimes found inside a sea-harvested oyster. Saltwater pearl varieties include Akoya pearls, South Sea pearls and Tahitian pearls. Let’s have a closer look at these stunning varieties of pearls.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearl necklace
A natural Akoya pearl and diamond necklace and brooch combination jewelry from our high jewelry pearls catalogue.

Akoya pearls are classic white pearls with a beautiful pink sheen and exceptionally round in shape. These pearls are primarily found from the waters of Japan, China and Vietnam. They are among the most prized and high-quality varieties of saltwater pearl. Akoya pearls are the most commonly found and cultivated saltwater pearl variety. Due to being found in rounder shapes, this variety often makes an excellent choice to create uniform pearl ropes and necklaces.

South Sea Pearls

south sea pearls
Our Sea Treasures ring features a pair of white and golden South sea pearls.

South Sea Pearls are usually white, cream and golden in color. The type of oyster that makes these pearls are larger in size which in turn makes the pearls bigger in size as compared to other saltwater pearl varieties. Golden south sea pearls are the most sought after pearls of this variety due to their beautiful color, but white south sea pearls are also popularly used in jewelry. The largest producers of south sea pearls include Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These types of pearls are ideal for statement pieces such as earrings, ear studs and rings. 

Tahitian Pearls

Tahiti pearl necklace
Our Midnight Tahiti Dream Necklace with tassel features Tahitian pearls and Akoya pearls.

Tahitian pearls are a darker pearl variety which are also known as black pearls or peacock pearls due to their deep and colorful hues of blues, greens and violet. These pearls are named after the island of Tahiti which is their primary source. The unusual and rare color of these pearls is owed to the black lipped variety of oysters that produces these pearls. Out of all the varieties of south sea pearls, Tahitian pearls are the rarest.


Nature offers so many colorful varieties of pearls and not only are pearls used in jewelry, even their by-products are popularly used amongst jewelry. This includes mother of pearl, shell and some other varieties of pearls such as seed pearls and abalone shells. Pearls are extremely valuable, not only because natural pearls are so rare, but also because they are only gemstones that have been produced by a living organism, i.e. oysters and mollusks.

Pearls are, and will remain, an important part of the jewelry industry all over the globe. We offer a range of pearl-set jewelry including rings, necklaces and earrings. We also offer customized services where you can pick a gem of your liking and have us create personalized jewelry according to your requirements. For more details visit our Personalized Creations page.