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Types of Pearls

Cultured pearls are grown in saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels and are organic in nature. Freshwater pearl necklaces have been found as far back as 200 B.C. in archaeological burial mounds in the state of Ohio.  Unbelievable, but true. Pearls contain layers of nacre which is secreted from mollusks around an irritant.  Natural pearls are very uncommon and considered most valuable as compared to farm grown pearls which are most common.

The only way to tell the difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl is through the use of an x-ray. There are four types of pearls - Akoya, South Sea, and Tahitian pearls grown in oysters in saltwater farms and freshwater pearls which are grown in mussels in saltwater farms. Akoya Pearls are found in Japan, China and Vietnam. 

These cultured pearls are consistent in shape and size. They are used for strands of pearls which are the same size or graduated with the largest pearl at the bottom of the necklace. Akoya Pearls range in size from 2mm – 10mm with the average size being 6mm – 7mm. South Sea Pearls are found in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Their colors are shades of white and gold. These strands of pearls are between 10mm – 15mm in size and are rare and costly. Tahitian Pearls are grown in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. These pearls are between 9mm – 11mm and come in the colors of peacock, aubergine and pistachio and are also very costly.  They along with South Sea Pearls make lovely pearl necklaces.

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