History of Pearl

The Pearl

Pearl History

Types Of Cultured Pearls

There are 2 types of Cultured Pearls
Fresh Water Cultured Pearl

Mantle Tissues

What is a mantle tissue?

(A) Farmers takes a donor mollusk and surgically cut the end of the

body’s skin that is attached to the shell.

(B) By cutting small pieces, manicured mantle tissues are

delicately implanted in the body of the mollusk.

Fresh Water Cultured Pearl

6- The surrogate mussel responds to these intruders known

as irritations,by growing a pearl sac around each piece.

7- The surrogate mussel responds to these intruders known as

irritations, by growing a pearl sac around each piece.

8– Slowly and magnificently, a smooth pearl evolves.

9- This process take time. If the farmers keep the mollusks in the water

2-3 years they can harvest 4-8mm pearls

10- If kept 4-6 years, sometimes even 8 years, they can harvest

8-12mm pearls, rarely up to 14mm.

11- The longer they keep in the water, the higher the risk of mortality due to disease, pollutions from nearby industrial waste, and yearly typhoons. However, the compensation is greater.

12- Today, more than 95% of the world’s pearls are freshwater pearls that come from China.

The Harvest

The farmers will never have the power to control the harvest; nature takes its course.

• At the harvest, when they take the mollusks out of the water and start cutting and opening, then they can see what nature gave them.

• There are different sizes, shapes, colors, quality and luster.

Salt Water Cultured Pearls

There are 3 different categories of Salt water cultured pearls. They all are cultivated in oysters.

1- Akoya Cultured Pearls

2- Tahitian Black Cultured Pearls

3- South Sea White and Golden Pearls

Akoya Cultured Pearls

• Akoya Cultured Pearls are mainly cultivated in China and Japan.

• The oyster is scientifically known as Pinctada fucata, (8-10 centimeters).

• Since they are small oysters they implant only 1 or 2 irritants. However, the method is different.

• The farmers take the shells, crush them, round them and implant them with small mantle tissues to create the irritation.

• If they implant 6mm Beads, after keeping the oyster in the sea for 18-36 months they will harvest 6-6½mm Akoya Pearl, or 7mm beads will give you 7-7½mm Akoya Pearl. The longer they keep, the heavier the nacre will get.

• Akoya pearl are cultivated in a protected bay along China’s coast. Most farm workers receive only a tiny fraction of the salaries paid in Japan.

• Also, equipment is primitive, inexpensive and easy to maintain.

• China’s Akoya pearl production is rapidly gaining ground on Japan’s long world dominance.

Tahitian Black Pearls

• Cultivated in seawater of the islands of French Polynesia, to the West into the Micronesian
Islands, Tahitian pearls are limited in supply.

• Produced in black-lipped oysters, these pearls range from dark green to peacock, charcoal and
grey. A truly black pearl is a rarity.

• Bigger is better? Tahitian are large, ranging from 8 to 14 millimeters.

• Seawater pearls, including Tahitian pearls, have thicker nacre coatings, or layers composing the pearl’s surface, compared to freshwater pearls. The thickness of the nacre coating of Tahitian pearls is 2-3 mm. In contract, Japanese Akoya pearls typically have a nacre coating that is only about 0.5mm thick.

• The smooth surface of cultured Tahitian pearls give them their excellent reflective quality, known as luster, which gives them their bright appearance. Cultured Tahitian pearls often have a very high luster.

• The warm waters of the lagoons of Polynesia promote the production of layers in the pearl. Each Tahitian pearl may have thousands of ultra-thin layers of aragonite – the substance that makes up the pearl itself.

• These black pearls emerge from distinctive black-lipped oysters.

• Pinctada margaritifera (15-25 centimeters)

• Cultivated in French Polynesia, Tahiti, and around the Cook Islands.

• Tahitian Black pearls reach 8-16mm.

• Tahitian Black pearls are cultivated in the fairly standard saltwater cultured pearl fashion- by inserting a spherical mother-of-pearl nucleus along with small mantle tissue culled from a donor mollusk.

• The range of possible shapes for Tahitian Black pearls range from round to oval to button to baroque.

• Tahitian Black Pearls are harvested in a large selection of hues – grey to black with green, brown, blue or rose overtones.

This is why they are exotic.

White South Sea Pearls

The oyster that produces the South Sea pearl, the silver-lipped Pinctada Maxima Oyster, is the largest oyster in the world capable of cultivating a pearl. The Pinctada Maxima oyster lives and grows its pearls in the wild, which translates into a limited supply and added value to these coveted and exceptional pearls.


White South Sea pearls are cultivated and harvested primarily in warm seawaters off Australia; Golden South Sea pearls are to be found in the waters of Indonesia, the Philippines.. • White and Golden South Sea pearls share a soft- satiny glow that emanate from their thick layers of nacre, which grow over a period as long as 4 years.


They are cultivated in equatorial seas, from Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines to Burma. The pearls grow large because they reside inside a particularly spacious silver-lipped oyster with the scientific name of Pinctada maxima (20-30 centimeters). • South Sea Pearls reach 8-18mm, dwarfing fresh water cultured pearls and Akoya pearls.


White South Sea pearls are cultivated in the fairly standard saltwater cultured pearl fashion- by inserting a spherical mother-of-pearl nucleus along with small mantle tissue culled from a donor mollusk. • The range of possible shapes for White South Sea pearls range from round to oval to button to baroque.

Golden South Sea Pearls

South Sea Pearls, are borne from golden lipped oysters found primarily in the seas off Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. They’re prized for their rarity, size and luster. • Size is always a factor in pearl value, and the South Sea pearl is large, ranging from 8-22 millimeters with an average size of 15mm.


Seawater pearls, including Golden South Sea pearls, have thicker nacre coatings, or layers composing the pearl’s surface, compared to freshwater pearls. The thickness of the nacre coating of pearls is 2-3 mm. In contract, Japanese Akoya pearls typically have a nacre coating that is only about 0.5mm thick.


As with the Tahitian Black Pearls, South Sea pearls have thick nacre coatings that give them a deep, rich luster. South Sea pearls have an appearance that is best described as satin, as opposed to the mirror-like quality of Akoya Pearls. South Sea pearls posses a gentle iridescence found only in pearls with exceptionally thick nacre.


South Sea Pearls with a natural golden color are rare. The color palette ranges from light champagne to a very rare, deep gold. This oyster species can also produce richly luminescent white pearls, but the deeper golden colors are the most coveted of all pearls.


The only difference is golden lipped oysters deliver golden pearls, and silver lipped oysters deliver white pearls. All the rest are exactly the same. • A more intense Golden Color is higher in value.

Pearl Types

Freshwater Pearls

ORIGIN: Bodies of freshwater in China

MUSSEL: Hyriopsis cumingii, Hyriopsis schlegelii

SIZE RANGE: 4mm-13mm

NATURAL COLORS: White, Cream, Pink, Peach, Apricot, Lavender

KNOWN FOR: Value for the price. Diverse colors, shapes, and sizes. 


Freshwater pearl culturing dates back to 13th century China, with the production of blister pearls. By the 1930’s, Freshwater pearl production was thriving in Japan, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that China’s production began to rival Japan’s. Today China is the undisputed lead producer of Freshwater pearls, with 90% or more of the world’s pearls being Freshwater pearls from China. Due to the nature of their culturing, up to 36-38 pearls can be harvested from one Freshwater mussel. Being the largest pearl crop in the world, they are also the most diverse of all the pearl types in size, shape, and color. 


Unlike other pearl types, Freshwater are not typically cultured with a bead nucleus but implanted with just pieces of mantle tissue, making it very rare to find perfectly round Freshwater pearls. This unique cultivation process allows for a wide variety of shapes which cannot be found in other pearl types. This also means that Freshwater pearls are the only pearls that are almost entirely composed of nacre, making them durable & resistant to wear and tear.

South Sea Pearls

ORIGIN: Australia, Philippine’s

OYSTER: Silver or Golden Lipped Pearl Oyster, Pinctada maxima

SIZE RANGE: 8mm-20mm

NATURAL COLORS: White-Silver and Gold

KNOWN FOR: Rarity, Opulent colors and large size 


The first attempts to culture South Sea pearls were made in the 1890’s and it wasn’t until the 1950’s-60 that they were able to be cultured on a commercial level. Because these oysters have not been able to thrive outside their native waters, the culturing areas are extremely limited. In addition to this, the large size of the pearl requires a longer grow time than other pearls, putting them at higher risk for damage from disease, pollution, and weather. Today, South Sea pearls are the most rare and valuable of all pearl types.


There are 2 types of P. maxima oysters – the Silver Lipped and Golden Lipped Pearl Oysters. While the Silver Lipped oyster generally produces white to silver pearls, and the Golden Lipped oyster produces golden shades of pearls, both types can produce either range of hues. Like the other saltwater pearl types, South Sea pearls are implanted with a round, shell bead to help ensure round pearls, and only 1-2 pearls can be harvested from each oyster. Similar to the Black Lipped oyster that produces Tahitian pearls, the P. maxima can also be re-nucleated up to 2 additional times producing larger pearls each time. The silvery white and golden hues are unique to the South Sea pearls, as is their thick nacre and rich, satiny luster. The warm waters of the South Seas cause the pearl’s nacre to build up faster and thicker than the other pearl types. This makes the crystals of the nacre more spread out, and therefore, less sharp and reflective.

Akoya Cultured Pearls

ORIGIN: Saltwater’s in Japan and China

OYSTER: Akoya Pearl Oyster, Pinctada fucata

SIZE RANGE: 2mm-9mm

NATURAL COLORS: White-Ivory, Rosé pink color overtones

KNOWN FOR: Mirror-like Luster, Pink-Rosé Hues


The epitome of the classic pearl, Akoya pearls were the first to be successfully cultured. Akoya pearl culturing began in Japan in the early 1900’s. They dominated the pearl culturing industry for so much of the century that “cultured pearls” became synonymous with Japanese Akoya pearls. It wasn’t until the 60’s that China started culturing pearls, and it wasn’t until the 80’s that their Akoya pearls even came close to the quality of the Japanese pearls.


Like the other saltwater pearl types, Akoya pearls are cultured by implanting a round, shell bead into the oyster. This helps to control the end pearl shape to be near-round, to the most desired, perfect round shape. The Akoya oyster only harvests 1-2 pearls per oyster, and with the smallest pearl size range, any Akoya pearls over 8mm are increasingly rare and valuable. Cherished for their mirror-like lustrous surface, round shape, and rich rosé color overtones, Akoya pearls remain the world’s most sought after and beloved pearl type.


Tahitian Black Pearls

ORIGIN: Islands of French Polynesia

OYSTER: Black Lipped Pearl Oyster, Pinctada margaritifera

SIZE RANGE: 8mm – 16mm

NATURAL COLORS: Range of dark hues

KNOWN FOR: Exotic Peacock Color


For hundreds of years, the Black Lipped Pearl Oyster was harvested by natives of the French Polynesia area for its meat and beautiful, Mother-of-Pearl shell. By chance, natural dark pearls were occasionally found inside. The rarity of these pearls caused them to be nick-named, “The Queen of Pearls and the Pearl of Queens,” as it was only royalty that was able to afford these naturally-occurring dark pearls. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that these pearls started being cultured, using Japanese culturing techniques. Previous to this time, the only cultured black pearls on the market were dyed. Due to the widespread disbelief of cultured black pearls, it wasn’t until the late 70’s and early 80’s that Tahitian pearls became sought after in the market. Tahitian pearls’ popularity soared for their large size and natural dark body color. Today, their popularity continues with Tahitian pearls accounting for over 50% of French Polynesia’s exports.


Like the Akoya oyster, the Black Lipped oyster is only able to produce 1-2 pearls per oyster, though after harvest each oyster can be re-nucleated up to 2 additional times producing subsequently larger pearls. The sensitive oyster has failed numerous attempts at being cultured outside their native waters, making the culturing process expensive and limited. Though prized for being the only naturally dark pearls, Tahitians are rarely ever a true black. Instead they are most often found in a gray body color with greenish overtones, but can also be found in virtually every color of the rainbow.

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