Types of Pearls and How to Tell Them Apart

When we imagine pearls, many of us visualise the traditional, velvety, beautiful spheres that adorn the necks of socialites in films. However, there are many different types of pearl classifications. There is a wide variety of pearls that differ enormously according to shape, size, colour and origin. Most of them don't look flawlessly round and smooth!

Today, natural pearls have become rare to find as humans have cultivated them at an increasingly fast rate. The fact is that most of the pearls on the market today are called "cultured pearls," which means that they are created due to man-made activities. They are still genuine and authentic pearls; the only difference is that they aren't formed naturally.

How Are Cultured Pearls Made?


To start creating a cultural pearl, technicians insert a small part of the shell together with mantle tissue from molluscs into an oyster. After this, they are gently placed back in the ocean in single pockets, allowing them to secrete multiple coatings of nacre, which is the main component in pearls.


At times, the oysters are taken to land for polishing and health checkups. Pearl culture technicians take steps to protect the oysters from harm or infections.


Now that you understand how pearls are created let us learn about the varieties of pearls and how to tell them apart.

Types of pearls

Tahitian pearls


Tahitian pearls are cultivated from Pinctada margaritifera, popularly called the "black-lip pearl oyster," in the warm waters of the coast of French Polynesia, close to Tahiti. They are widely recognised for their naturally-coloured "black pearls." which usually feature shiny, grey, silvery colouring.

Tahitian pearls are very exquisite, and darker variations often cost more money.


They are also coveted for their size, similar to their distinctive colours. Tahitian pearls range between 8mm and 15mm in size. The ones that surpass 15mm are relatively rare and have exorbitant prices.


It is noteworthy that the Tahitian and South Sea pearls never undergo any colouring or dye treatment after cultivation, making them popular and valued.


To shop for your authentic, farm-direct Tahitian pearl, visit our website.


Akoya Pearl


When most people imagine pearls, it is probably this type of pearl. It is known for its uniquely rich white gloss. Akoya pearls are cultivated through the Pinctada fucata martensii saltwater oyster in the waters of Southern China, Vietnam and Japan.


Japan is by far the leading country in farming Akoya pearls. It also manufactures the most superior quality variations. Although most Akoya pearls are white, others may display traces of silver-blue or golden colours.


Akoya pearls come in different sizes, from 2mm to 9mm on average. However, the largest and most expensive ones can be roughly 10mm in size.

Freshwater Pearl


This kind of pearl is cultivated inside freshwater mussels rather than ocean molluscs. They are inexpensive and very popular in the market, although more beautiful specimens can be costly.


Fresh pearls originate largely from China and can have a wide range of colours. You might mostly see them in pale tones of lavender, white, pink and peach. They are usually exposed to dye treatments to brighten or replace their colouring. Peacock pearl, which is another variation of freshwater pearl, is dyed black, giving it a shiny violet lustre.


Freshwater pearls have an average size of 2mm to 12mm in diameter, although the latest varieties can range around 15mm.


South Sea Pearl


These high-demand gemstones are generally the biggest and costliest variety of pearls. Its allure stems from the fact that they are cultivated in the famed "coral triangle" - an area of stormy waters between Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines. Although the section is rich in marine biodiversity, dangerous sharks and pirates are commonplace there.


South Sea pearls vary in size from 8 to 20 mm. The ones bigger than 15mm can fetch an astronomical price. You can find them in smooth white colour (like an Akoya), elegant silver, delicate pink or opulent gold. This depends on the kind of oyster they grow in.


South Sea pearls with big and perfectly round shapes are highly expensive and treasured on the market, so people usually take extreme steps to cultivate them.

Baroque and Traditional Pearl


There are lots of factors used to analyse pearls; the primary one here is shape. All pearls are grouped into two main shape categories: baroque and traditional. Traditional pearls are round, while baroque pearls have irregular, non-spherical shapes.


While many opt for baroque pearls for their peculiar shapes, traditional pearls are usually pricier. Baroque pearls can cost more depending on their lustre, gloss and colour. However, traditional pearls attract more cost based on size - the bigger, the more expensive. Because white and pink baroque pearls are common, customers will go above and beyond to get the darker ones.



Pearls are lovely, wonderful and intriguing. They are regarded as amazing gifts, either for somebody else or if you wish to give yourself a treat. They are particularly perfect for 30th-anniversary gifts, also called "pearl anniversary." Now you are familiar with the varieties of pearls and how to identify them, buy the ones that interest you the most.