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Whether you’re interested in the Tahitian black pearl of the Akoya pearl, we’re sure that you became slightly confused about the color of genuine pearls at one point.

The classic pearl is neutral, white, or cream – these are lumped together usually and represent just one class of genuine pearls. We’re going to tell you more about how natural pearls look and how they form. We are also going to discuss the different factors that affect the market value or price pearls.


Types of Pearl

Tahitian Pearls

Contrary to common belief, this type of pearl is not cultivated in Tahiti. The most significant source of Tahitian pearls in French Polynesia. Two locales in French Polynesia dominate in terms of pearl harvests: Tuamotu and Gambier. Tahitian pearls are often described as black pearls, but this isn’t entirely true, either.

They can occur in a variety of colors from grey, green, purple and even brown, and the color saturation of the pearls make them look like they’re black. But is there a genuine black pearl? No. However, the marketing term “black pearls” is widely accepted, and there is nothing wrong with it.

The most expensive black pearls in the market are said to be the solid dark green ones. We must also consider the overtones of pearls.

There’s the primary coloration (like the one we mentioned above), and then their overtones are secondary shades of observable color. The highest quality Tahitian pearls tend to have a peacock overtone. The peacock overtone is often called an “oil slick” because of its hue, which resembles an oil spill in the ocean. A string of Tahitian pearls can go for several thousand dollars quickly.


Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls always have a place in everyone’s hearts because it is the “classic pearl” that people recognize in the movies and on TV. Akoya pearls are cultured, and these pearls are often used for dangle earrings, classic

pearl earrings and other pearl jewelry.

Akoya pearls are cultivated from Japanese pearl farms. The Japanese have a long tradition of cultured pearls, and they have perfected their methods so much that even today, they continue using the traditional techniques for farming Akoya pearls.

Akoya pearls debuted in the world pearl market in the 1920s, and people just fell in love with the white pearls with distinct rosy overtones. These pearls naturally complemented people with fair complexions, so those from West readily appreciated how beautiful these pearls were when worn as jewelry. Akoya pearls are considered top-tier pearls with almost no blemishes and stunning luster.


Chinese Freshwater Pearls

Chinese freshwater pearls are on the low to middle ranges in the pearl world. These pears are highly appreciated because of their quality and cost far less than their Akola or Tahitian counterparts. This makes Chinese freshwater pearls marketable to the masses because they can be purchased for several hundred dollars per string. In contrast, you may spend $15,000 or more for high-quality beads at a time.


Quality and Luster of Pearls

While pearls may look alike, the finer details about their quality and color can be used to tell them apart. Their value or price is also profoundly affected by these finer details.

Akoya cultured pearls can grow from two millimeters to 11 millimeters, while the average size is six millimeters to eight millimeters. They can either be spherical, semi-baroque, or baroque in shape.

Seventy to eighty percent of Akoya pearls are spherical, while the rest are either semi-baroque or baroque. The luster of this class of beads ranges from fair to excellent—the nacre quality, from chalky to acceptable. Acceptable is the highest quality assigned to nacre, while chalky means the nucleus of the pearl may be visible in some lighting conditions.

South Sea cultured pearls (those from the Philippines, for example), can grow from eight millimeters to twenty millimeters. The average size is thirteen millimeters in diameter.

South Sea cultured pearls can occur in any shape from round, off-round, drop, oval, baroque, and semi-baroque. The majority of pearls are spherical (which fetches the highest value), while 40% to 60% are oval. Like Akoya pearls, South Sea pearls have lusters that range from fair to excellent.

Tahitian pearls can grow from nine millimeters to fourteen millimeters. Like South China cultured pearls, much of the harvest from French Polynesia is spherical and symmetrical.

The luster can also be excellent, good, or fair, depending on the sample. As for the surface, Tahitian pearls can have heavily spotted specimens, but also moderately placed and clean ones. In contrast, South China cultured pearls can only be lightly located or clean.


Color of Pearls

And finally, we have the color of pearls. Color quality and availability can also shift the value of pearls in different situations. If there is a shortage of colored pearls in one country, the number of fancier colored pearls will increase.

But more than color, we also have to remember that the surface quality of the pearls matter. Clean and lightly spotted pearls are highly desirable, while the moderately spotted and heavily spotted ones may lose a bit of their value over time.

Tahitian pearls are often formed by individual oysters that have colored nacre inside. As we have mentioned before, these pearls can be brown, gray, or green. The green ones are highly prized. The hue of the pearls can also be yellowish-green, blue, green, or purplish. And finally, the overtones are green, blue and pink.

In contrast, South Sea pearls tend to be on the lighter side: silver, white, and cream. The hue of the pearls can be blue, yellow or orange-yellow, and the overtones can be pink, green, and blue as well. Akoya cultured pearls are often either neutral/white or cream only. Hues of pink, yellow, and blue exist, and light overtones of pink and green are sometimes observed.