I also bought some sea pearls. They were much more expensive, very
round and had beautiful luster to them. I know that these are not
South Sea Pearls because from what I am reading if they were they
would be very expensive (I paid about $65 for a 7 mm double knot
strand with 14k clasp.) I just am not sure what the difference
fresh, salt and south sea pearls are.
Dear Elle, Basically there are two types of cultured pearls: fresh
water pearls and sea pearls (a.k.a. salt water pearls). If they were
truly sea pearls, then the strand you bought was most likely Japanese
Akoya pearls. Akoyas have traditionally been the cream of the crop
where smaller pearls are concerned. For the last few years, however,
the Akoya oysters, in which these pearls are grown, have been in
trouble � reputedly due to pollution of the Japanese waters where
At the same time that Akoya production has been on the wane, the
Chinese have been developing new techniques for the production of
rounder and more lustrous fresh water pearls � and in great quantities
� which are now competing successfully with the higher priced Akoyas
in the marketplace.
In addition, Chinese pearls are beginning to compete with South Sea
pearls because of the large sizes and variety of colors in which
they’re grown. South Sea pearls are salt water pearls that are
typically quite large (10mm and up) because of the kind of oyster in
which they’re cultured, an oyster that grows in south sea regions such
as off the northern coast of Australia. Conditions there are difficult
to control at best, making production undependable and accounting in
part for the high price.
South Sea pearl colors usually range from white to gold. Tahitian
pearls, on the other hand, which are sea pearls cultured in the
black-lipped oyster, are generally large, black, grey or silver pearls
which often have overtones of green, blue and pink.
I just gather that there are so many types of pearls out there that
some are better than others.
There definitely are many different kinds of pearls out there and
these are just a few. Quality, however, is not merely a function of
pearl origin, although that certainly does affect price. In general,
the most valuable pearl is large, perfectly round, without blemishes
and, perhaps most importantly, of very high luster. If it meets all
of these criteria and is from the South Seas, as opposed to the fresh
waters of China, it’s going to cost a lot more, but it won’t
necessarily be a prettier pearl. As for me, I’ll take an interesting,
high luster, baroque cultured pearl or a natural Mississippi River
wing pearl over a round South Sea pearl any day!