Mysteries of Pearls Explained
Freshwater, Saltwater, Cultured, Natural. . .
What is a REAL Pearl?

Pearls are one of the few organic gemstones. It isthe only gemstone that has been grown inside a living organism. A pearl is aunique gemstone because in its natural state--without any polishing, cuttingor other manipulation--it shows it full beauty, gloss and luster.

Round Freshwater White Pearls Strand Necklace

Pearl jewelry has been prized for its beauty for centuries. Once reserved for onlythe wealthiest people, technology and advancements in pearl farminghave made pearl jewelry more commonly available and affordable.


CONFUSING is the world of the pearl for the general public. Theterms used to describe pearls and pearl jewelry are thrown aboutwith abandon by the pearl industry.

Saltwater, freshwater, natural, nacre, luster, cultured, dyed, akoya, mabe, blister,keishi, petal. . . the list of terms used to describe a pearl seems endless.

Cranberry Freshwater Cultured Pearls

The terms generally fall into three categories of interest to people lookingto purchase pearl jewelry.

How was the pearl made? Is it a real pearl?Freshwater or saltwater? Natural or cultured? Real or manmade?

What is the appearance of the pearl and its value?Luster and nacre? Shape? Size? Surface? Color?

What do the different pearl names mean?Akoya, Blister, Tahitian, Keishi, Mabe, Mother of Pearl?


Gold Freshwater Nugget Pearls

The value of the pearl depends on the answers to all of those questions.

Because the pearl is a naturally occuring organic gemstone the quality varies widely. Different conditions in nature including weather and water temperature can dramatically affect the appearance of a pearl.


Use these convenient reference pages to learn about the rich history of pearls and what to look for when purchasing pearl jewelry.

Common Pearl Words and Terms Glossary
What Determines Pearl Quality and Pearl Value?
Pearl Types & Their Pearl Names