It has been said for many years that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. People who love the soft luster of pearls probably quietly disagree. After all, pearls are very subtle gems, and so are the people who wear them.
Freshwater pearls are an affordable option for pearl lovers on a budget. Found in various species of mussels that grow in ponds, streams, lakes and other bodies of freshwater, most of the cultured supply now comes from China.
Freshwater pearls lend themselves to dyeing in a range of colors. Black, blue, yellow, pink, purple and green are the most popular colors for fashion jewelry made from them.
Saltwater pearls, the traditional type familiar to many people, are found primarily in pearl oysters in warmer waters. Most of today’s saltwater pearls are cultivated in protected beds near volcanic atolls and in lagoons. Natural pearls, those not actively farmed by humans, are rather rare and relatively more expensive than the cultured varieties.
While there is a price difference between cultured and natural pearls, they both have the same characteristic luster. An x-ray examination will reveal a difference in their internal structures, but most people who wear them usually do not go to this length. They are more interested in a pearl’s beauty.
Saltwater cultured pearls may also be dyed different colors, but this is less common than it with the freshwater varieties. The mirror-like metallic glow of a high-quality pearl is usually sufficient unto itself.
Tahitian pearls, often called black pearls, are very rare and highly valued. They are a type of cultured pearl grown deliberately to produce a natural black color. Growing black pearls is a time- and labor-intensive process and producing them on a large scale at a lower price is not possible.
Akoya pearls are coveted by pearl lovers around the world. Cultivated only in the akoya oyster, they were first grown in Japan, still the major producer of these pearls. Some are also grown in China.
Akoyas have all the classic characteristics of a fine pearl. They are round, have the distinctive mirror-like glow and are a natural white color with a hint of pink. Akoyas are among the most popular pearls for jewelry making today.
** Image source en.wikipedia.org