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Pearls, symbolizing timeless beauty and elegance since their discovery, have become today's trending classic gemstones.

White strands often come to mind, whenever we talk about pearls. but there are several varieties. Each pearl has its own unique story, characteristics, origin, and other facts.

Pearls are produced by living creatures and are unique in their shape, size, and color.

These varied varieties of pearls ranging from traditional white to exotic black,  can confuse you because their beauty makes it challenging to decide which one to buy.

Here, we have detailed everything that can be helpful. Additionally, we have discussed all the factors that can assist you in making a well-researched decision.

Five  Main Types of Pearls

You can find a wide variety of pearls in the market, and we will discuss the ones that are ruling the trend. They are:

  1. Akoya Pearls

  2. Freshwater Pearls

  3. South Sea Pearls

  4. Tahitian Pearls

  5. Mabe Pearls

Let's discuss them in detail so that we have an idea of how they are differentiated and why they have a strong position in the gemstone market.

  1. Akoya Pearls

    Akoya pearls known as superior pearls, are bead-nucleated cultured pearls sourced from Pinctada fucata oyster species. Their perfectly round shape, reflective luster, and timeless beauty make them well worth their price. These have been favorites among pearl collectors and aristocracy for generations.


    Color: Available in a range of hues, including white, light pink, and pale yellow. They are also available in green and blue-gray hues.

    Size: Usually they are comparatively smaller ( 2 MM to 11 MM). The average size ranges around 7 MM.

    Quality and Grading: Luster, color, shape, size, nacre thickness, and surface define the quality of Akoya pearls.  They are graded according to the A-AAA system of grading with A-AAA being of the highest quality and A being the lowest.

    Where to Find Them: Akoya pearls are currently farmed in Japan, China, and to some extent in  Vietnam, Thailand, and Australia.

    Associated Facts: The first cultivated pearl was Akoya.
    Akoya pearls are the rarest and most valuable pearls in comparison to other types. They stand third behind South Sea and Tahitian pearls, in terms of their financial value.
    They are the highest quality pearls available.

    Symbolism and Use: Symbolizing purity, wisdom, and integrity they are considered birthstones of June babies. Akoya pearl necklaces are widely popular and every woman would love to have at least one of these strands. Besides this bracelets, rings, and studs are also flourishing well in the market.

  2. Freshwater Pearls

    Freshwater pearls differentiate them from other pearls in their growth procedure. Their diverse shapes, colors, and affordability have made them popular worldwide. They are produced in rivers, lakes, and ponds and are highly valued due to their unique charm.


    Color: Available in a rainbow of natural pastel colors, including lavender, pink, and various shades in between like peach, orange, white, red, and more.

    Size: Freshwater pearls vary in size, ranging from tiny seed pearls (1-2 mm in diameter) to larger pearls measuring 15 mm and beyond.

    Shape: Freshwater pearls exhibit a wide range of shapes, slightly off-round, ovals, potato shapes, drops, and funky free-form baroque. High-quality pearls which are perfectly round, can not be easily distinguished from akoya pearls, but these are rare.

    Quality and Grading: Freshwater pearls are evaluated based on separate quality scales, considering factors such as luster, shape, surface, color, and matching. A-AAA the highest quality freshwater pearls have excellent luster, nearly flawless surfaces, and are either round or near-round in shape. Grade A being the lowest and the most affordable has lower luster, noticeable surface blemishes, and irregular shapes.

    Where to Find Them: Freshwater pearls are mainly produced in China, but Japan and the United States are also known for faring them to some extent.

    Associated Facts: Only 2% of freshwater pearls are round and they are not available in black color too.  The most expensive freshwater pearl is somewhat around $100 Million.

    Symbolism and Use: Freshwater pearls representing love and new beginnings have long been utilized in rituals and ceremonies for centuries. Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces can enjoy the astrological benefits of freshwater pearls if they wear them. Freshwater Pearl Necklaces, Bracelet strands,  stud earrings, and pendants have been loved since times and are trending till now.

  3. South Sea Pearls

    Globally most desired gems, South Sea pearls are known for their stunning beauty and luxury. They rank among the most expensive and rarest pearls in the world. Besides this, their large size and exceptional luster, also make them highly sought after in the jewelry market.


    Color: The hue of South Sea Pearl ranges from golden to creamy white to creamy pink to deep golden tones and even blue and rare silver shades. White and golden are the most common colors in South Sea pearls.

    Size: South Sea pearls are among the largest harvested pearls in terms of size which usually measures between 9mm and 20mm in diameter. They can grow as large as 30mm.

    Shape: South Sea pearls are mostly round or oval, variety of other shapes including semi-round, button, drop, pear, and even baroque are also noticed.

    Quality and Grading: South Sea pearls are evaluated based on separate quality scales, considering factors such as luster, shape, surface, color, and matching.  South Sea pearls with an A-AAA grade have the highest luster, minor blemishes, and a round, symmetrical shape. While the A grade is the lowest.

    Where to Find Them: South Sea pearls are mostly cultivated in warm shallow waters in  Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia.

    Associated Facts: South Sea pearls are mainly produced in the southern hemisphere and from here they get the name South Sea.

    Symbolism and Use: South Sea pearls are associated with a range of symbolic meanings. Among them, wealth, status, and sophistication are the most considered. For centuries they have been valued for their beauty and rarity, but in some cultures, their purity and innocence hold even more significance.  In the world of fashion and jewelry South Sea peals hold a great value. Besides being used in rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, they are also used to adorn apparel, handbags, shoes, hairpins, etc.

  4. Tahitian Pearls

    Tahitian pearls are also known as black pearls and are produced from the black-lipped Pinctada Margaritifera oyster, which is found only in the waters of French Polynesia, The major reason for their popularity is their striking hues. Tahitian pearls fascinate ladies who love exceptional jewelry because they come in amazing sizes and forms.


    Color: Tahitian pearls are usually black. However, a variety of color variations are observed by close monitoring. These black beauties can exhibit greens, blues, copper, and deep purple colors.

    Size: Tahitian pearls typically measure between 8 mm and 18 mm in diameter. they are widely popular due to their size too. The average size is around 13 mm.

    Shape: 90 % of the harvested Tahitian pearls are irregular in shape and the variety of shapes can be round, Semi-round, Button, Circle,  Baroque, Semi-baroque, Oval, and Teardrop.

    Quality and Grading: Tahitian pearls are evaluated on the basis of their luster, shape, surface, nacre thickness color, and matching. Two different grading systems, the A-AAA grading system, and the A-D grading system are usually considered. A-AAA variety of pearls is considered the best yield and grade A is considered the lowest commercially available quality.

    Where to Find Them: Tahitian pearls grow in places like French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, and the Micronesian Islands, and sometimes in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. The ones grown in French Polynesia are only called Tahitian pearls.

    Associated Facts: Although they are called black gems, they are not just black. Different hues are associated with these gems.
    Their immense value and exotic rarity made them the choice of nobles and royals in the past.

    Symbolism and Use: Tahitian pearls symbolizing strength, protection, and good fortune are also known to ward off negative energy. Dark-shade Tahitian pearls symbolize protection, while lighter shades represent purity. Tahitian pearls carry a rich allure besides being beautiful, so they are widely used in jewelry for adorning different body parts. Tahitian pearl necklaces, rings, earrings, and more jewelry options can add a personal touch.

  5. Mabe Pearls

    Mabe pearls, also known as blister pearls, grow inside the mollusk shells. Due to their hemispherical shapes, they stand out from other varieties in the market. These half-pearls are known to offer elegance and comfort and are grown in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.


    Color: White, cream, and pink colors are usually associated with mabe pearls, but depending on the oyster, they can also be seen in blue, silver, or green shades. Their shiny look and the way they sparkle with different colors like pink, green, violet, and blue, make people crazy for them. Mabe pearl's vibrant colors and shine make them a good choice for jewelry.

    Size: Mabe pearls size ranges between 8.0mm and 13.0mm. Depending on the size of the mollusk host and the introduced hemispherical disk Mabe pearls can vary in size.

    Shape: The most striking feature distinguishing the mabe pearl from other types is its shape. Usually, they're dome-shaped, but they can also be elongated, like teardrops or similar shapes.

    Quality and Grading: The quality of Mabe pearls depends on factors like Luster, color, shape, size, nacre thickness, and surface. They are graded according to the A-AAA system of grading with A-AAA being of the highest quality. These pearls will have a good luster, a clean surface with minimal blemishes, and a well-defined shape.

    Where to Find Them: Indonesia, Australia, Japan, and French Polynesia are the different countries where these pearls are mostly cultivated. Most of the world's best-quality pearls are produced from Indonesia and it is among the largest producers too. Best quality pearls known for rich color and high luster are Japanese Mabe pearls.

    Associated Facts: The name of these pearls is derived from the Japanese word “mabe gai”. This refers to the mollusk type in which these Pearls are grown.
    Mabe Pearl's growth was first mastered by the Japanese.

    Symbolism and Use: Mabe pearls symbolize purity, elegance, and prosperity. They bring good luck to the wearer. Their smooth texture and lustrous appearance add beauty to their grace. Whenever adorned in any form (like rings, earrings, or necklaces) they just enhance the beauty of the jewel piece.  These are perfect statement pieces for your big and small occasions.

Wrapping Up:

Pearls popular for their elegance and luxurious appeal are known to attract with their beauty. Each pearl variety has its special features Akoya pearls are known for their classic elegance, Tahitian pearls attract with their striking beauty, South Sea pearls are known for their exquisite luster,  Mabe pearls offer a unique twist with their unusual shapes, and the last freshwater pearls which are popular for their affordability.

Several factors like money, occasion, and personal taste come into play while selecting pearls. But besides this, it's essential to understand the quality and grade of pearls you are buying. Shape, color, size, nacre thickness, and surface define the quality of pearl according to which it is graded on the grading system. Understanding these distinctions can help us in selecting pearls of our interest and ultimately crafting them into jewel pieces that reflect our unique personality and taste.

Every pearl has its own story of formation. The unique properties of different pearls make them attractive in their way.
Pearls stay stylish and classy over time, becoming a fancy and elegant symbol for generations to come.

Arisha Jewels
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