CULTURED PEARLS

By the late 1920’s and 1930’s, retail jewelers around the world were introducing necklaces of these well-matched rounded beads to their clients, representing them as having greater beauty than the natural pearl strands which had been the staple of their businesses for centuries. The public caught on, and demand for cultured pearl necklaces and pearl jewelry increased and has remained strong ever since.

Categories of Cultured Pearls (A Partial List):

  • Classic Japanese Akoya cultured pearls represent the core of the industry. Fine quality examples of these pearls are also cultured by several companies in Tennessee. Chinese pearl farmers also use the akoya mollusk but have not yet mastered the production of fine quality necklaces to match those from Japan.
  • Lake Biwa Japan freshwater cultured pearls: generally small beads of different shapes and colors sold primarily in fashion jewelry pieces.
  • South Sea cultured pearls: larger pearls of different shapes and colors from Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines. Generally speaking, pearls from Myanmar and Australia are white or silver white while pearls from Indonesia and the Philippines are golden.
  • Tahitian cultured pearls: medium size to larger pearls, with gray to black body color, sometimes with beautiful rose and celadon overtone colors.
  • Chinese freshwater cultured pearls: The best of these pearls are almost round, but they lack the combination of luster and color that is so important to the beauty of the classic Japanese pearl necklaces from the akoya mollusk. China has been tremendously successful in their production of freshwater cultured pearls of different shapes, and most of these necklaces are very inexpensive.
  • Blister “mabe” cultured pearls: these are “half” pearls cultured on the lid of the mollusk which are typically used to make large and fairly inexpensive earrings, rings and necklaces.

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