There are three main types of saltwater pearls: Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea pearls. Akoya pearls are typically small to medium-sized pearls and are known for their luster and perfectly round shape. South Sea pearls are larger in size and have a thicker nacre than Akoya pearls. They come in a range of colors, including white, silver, and golden. Tahitian pearls are known for their striking dark colors, ranging from gray to black to peacock green.
Cultured Akoya pearls are grown in the Pinctada fucata martensii saltwater oyster. Akoya cultured pearls are the most familiar type of saltwater cultured pearl to most people in the U.S. and other Western markets. Known for their high luster and perfectly round shape, thanks to the small size of the oyster that produces them. They are often used in classic, elegant jewelry designs.
SIZES: Akoya pearls range in size from 2mm to 10mm in diameter, with an average size of around 7-8mm, and very rarely, 9.0-10.0mm.
OUTPUT: Akoya oysters typically produce only one pearl at a time, making them rarer and more valuable than some other varieties.
COLORS: Traditional Akoya pearl colors are most famously white or cream-colored, with hints of pink, green, or blue. but also include natural Silvery-Blue and even Golden hues.
SHAPES: The most valuable and traditional Akoya pearl shape is a true, perfect Round, but free form Baroque shapes are also available.
Cultured Akoya Price Ranges:
Low Quality: $100 and lower
Average Quality: $150 – $900
Fine Quality: $650 – $10,000 and higher
GOOD TO KNOW: The grading system for Akoya pearls takes into account various factors such as luster, surface quality, shape, size, and color. The highest quality Akoya pearls have a mirror-like luster, near-perfect round shape, and minimal blemishes on their surface. Cultured saltwater Akoya pearls are The Classic White Pearl that every woman wants to have in her jewelry box.
Cultured Tahitian pearls are the most famous and prevalent naturally Black cultured saltwater pearls in the world. There is perhaps no piece of jewelry quite as exotic as a fine strand of Tahitian Pearls.
ORIGIN: Tahitian pearls are produced mainly in French Polynesia, particularly the islands of Tahiti. Grown in the Pinctada margaritifera saltwater pearl oyster, which can attain sizes of up to a foot in diameter, Tahitian pearls are one of the largest cultured pearl types in the world.
SIZES: Tahitian pearls range from 8mm to 16mm in diameter, with an average size of around 10mm, with average sizes ranging from 9.0-10.0mm through 12.0-13.0mm. Sizes over 15.0mm are rare and very expensive.
OUTPUT: Tahitian oysters typically produce only one pearl at a time, adding to their value.
COLORS: The Tahitian pearl oyster, Pinctada margaritifera, also known as the “Black Lip” oyster produces a variety of naturally colored black pearls, most typically shades of pastel Dove Greys to darker Charcoal Greys. Their more famous colors like Peacock, Green, Aubergine, etc., are called Overtones and are iridescent, secondary color that appears to shimmer over the main grey body colors.
SHAPES: Perfectly round Tahitian pearls are the most valued and rare. Free-form baroque, circled baroque and smooth baroque shapes that are symmetrical comprise the vast majority of shapes in each yearly pearl harvest.
Cultured Tahitian pearls Ranges：
Low Quality: $100 and lower
Average Quality: $250 – $1550
Fine Quality: $550 – $40,000 and higher
GOOD TO KNOW: Black Tahitian pearls are 99% of the time naturally colored with no treatments of any kind other than a gentle washing and buffing after harvest.
White and Golden South Sea pearls are the largest and most luxurious of all cultured pearl types on the market today. Often called the “Queen of Pearls”, South Sea pearls feature a gorgeous palette of natural Golden and White colors that shimmer with delicate overtones and are simply unmistakable. A fine strand of South Sea pearls is the ultimate in luxury!
ORIGIN: The Silver-lipped P. maxima oyster produces the White South Sea pearl, and is mainly farmed along the Northern coast of Australia. Mainly produced in Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
SIZES: South Sea pearls are generally the largest cultured pearl type. Ranging in size from 8mm to 20mm in diameter, with an average size of around 13mm. Sizes over 15.0mm are rare and very expensive.
OUTPUT: South Sea oysters are larger than Akoya oysters and can produce multiple pearls at once, making South Sea pearls less rare but still highly valuable.
COLORS: The South Sea pearl oyster, Pinctada can be either “Silver-lipped” or “Gold-lipped” varieties, and produces natural shades of White and Gold typically, but can also come in silver and other colors.
SHAPES: South Sea pearls that are perfectly round are the most valuable and rare. Free-form baroque, circled baroque, and smooth baroque shapes that are symmetrical comprise the vast majority of shapes in each yearly pearl harvest. Known for their thick nacre, which gives them a soft glow and a durable surface. They are often used in statement jewelry pieces due to their large size.
Cultured South Sea pearls Ranges：
Low Quality: $400 and lower
Average Quality: $600 – $5,000
Fine Quality: $1,000 – $100,000 and higher
GOOD TO KNOW: South Sea pearls are farmed in the Pinctada maxima saltwater oyster, which grows up to a foot in diameter at maturity. It is the largest pearl-producing oyster in production today. In order to maintain the genetic diversity of the oyster population, ONLY wild oysters are bred to create farm stock and then released back to the oceans.
Delicate yet resilient, each pearl embodies an unparalleled elegance and sophistication that is simply breathtaking. The sheer opulence of these pearls is further heightened by their perfect form, with each one possessing a symmetrical roundness that is nothing short of stunning. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of refined glamour to your wardrobe or seeking a truly extraordinary gift for someone special, saltwater pearls are a treasure that will be cherished for generations to come.