Because of the rarity of naturally occurring pearls, a process of cultivating pearls was introduced in the early 1900s. In this process, a small bead of polished shell is inserted into an oyster or mollusk to act as an irritant and produce a pearl, which can take up to 24 months. These pearls are referred to as cultured pearls. Pearls are classically elegant and never go out of style.
Akoya Cultured Pearls
These pearls were the first type of pearl to be cultured. Japan and China are the main producers of these pearls. They are consistently round, which makes them perfect for strands. Colors range from white to cream, though some can be gray or black.
Freshwater Cultured Pearls
Freshwater cultured pearls are a newer entry into the global cultured pearl market. Developed after disease impacted the Japanese Akoya pearl beds, most of these are grown in China and offer a similar look with a lower price than Japanese Akoya. Colors range from white to peach to lavender with round, drop and button shapes available.
Tahitian Cultured Pearls
These larger cultured pearls are grown in the South Seas including the Phillipines, the Tahitian Islands and Australia. The Tahitians grow in a range of color from black, silver and gray, the Phillipine range from yellow to golden and the Australian white and light silver. Shapes include round, drop and button as well.