5 Types of Pearls Everyone Should Know


A woman wearing a pearl necklace.

Much like gemstones, people across the world have used pearls as embellishments for jewelry and clothing for centuries, as well as to denote class status, wealth, and placement within societal hierarchies. Pearls are officially recognized as the world’s oldest gem. Today, pearls are much more common than they once were, thanks to human-developed cultured efforts, but they are still widely used in some of the most beautiful accessories you can find, from necklaces and earrings to bracelets and beyond.

Below, our artisan jewelry experts at LaCkore Couture will explore five specific types of cultured pearls that everyone should know about, especially if they’re passionate about jewelry. Please continue reading to learn more, and also consider browsing our wide selection of other educational jewelry resources covering an assortment of fascinating topics. 

Natural Vs. Cultured Pearls

For this article, we’ll be focusing on five types of cultivated pearls. However, we thought it would also be a good idea to explain the difference between cultivated and natural pearls. In short, natural pearls are rare and produced by oysters when an irritant- like sand or dust- accidentally ends up inside their soft tissue. The irritant activates a natural defense mechanism for the oyster and it starts producing layers of secretion that slowly creates a pearl around the irritant over an extended period. 

Cultured pearls, on the other hand, are created through the same process as natural pearls, but the process is facilitated by humans who intentionally insert irritants into the oyster. Cultured pearls are not usually rare and are produced in mass quantities by pearl farmers. Most pearls available on the market and that are used in jewelry are cultured because they are much more widely available and less expensive than natural pearls. 

Related: How to Spot Real Pearl Jewelry

The Five Cultivated Pearls to Know About

Now that we’ve covered the distinction between cultured and natural pearls let’s delve into the five essential types of cultivated pearls.

1. Freshwater Pearls

The Pink Pearl Necklace from LaCkore Couture.

The first pearls that people should know about are called freshwater pearls, and they are the most commonly produced pearls in the world. Approximately 99.99% of all freshwater pearls are cultivated by pearl farmers located throughout Eastern China in natural and artificial freshwater lakes or ponds. 

Freshwater pearls come in a small rainbow of beautiful natural colors, including pastel shades of white, pink, lavender, and peach. They can also range significantly in size and shape, from perfectly round spheres to free-form baroque. Because they are so commonly produced, freshwater pearls are some of the most affordable and can range in price from $30 to $2,000. 

2. Akoya Pearls

Next on our list of the top five types of cultivated pearls are called Akoya pearls, produced in saltwater by pearl farmers in the Pacific Ocean around Japan, Southeast China, and Vietnam. However, Japan is widely regarded as the leader in Akoya production and is known to produce the best and most beautiful Akoya pearls in the world. 

When you think of any pearl, the first image to come to your mind is likely an Akoya pearl, which typically features a perfectly round shape, a classic white color, and a shining, mirror-like luster. However, some Akoya pearls can also feature a natural golden or silvery-blue hue. Akoya pearls are more expensive than freshwater ones and can range from as little as $75 to as much as $10,000 in price. 

We offer plenty of gorgeous pearl jewelry at LaCkore Couture!

3. Tahitian Pearls

A pearl necklace and a piano-shaped box.

Tahitian pearls are the next pearl type on our list, and they’re very well known and highly regarded for their gorgeous dark colors, ranging from dove and charcoal gray to, rarely, a nearly pure jet black color. They are some of the most famous types of pearls available. They are coveted for their natural black color that shimmers with iridescent overtones and secondary colors, including cherry, green, blue-green, silver, and Peacock. 

Tahitian pearls are cultivated in saltwater pearl farms in tropical atolls and lagoons throughout Fench Polynesia. The oysters that produce Tahitian pearls can grow up to a foot in diameter and make some of the world’s most oversized cultured pearls. Depending on their size and color, Tahitian pearls can go for between $80 to $25,000.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Guest Jewelry

4. South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls are second to last on our list. They are extremely rare, and are often referred to as the “Rolls Royce of Pearls” or “Queen of Pearls.” As the largest and one of the most luxurious pearl types on the market, South Sea pearls are highly regarded for their natural silvery-white and golden colors that shimmer with gentle overtones. 

All South Sea pearls are developed using the most giant pearl-producing oyster used in pearl cultivation. The gold-colored South Sea pearls come from the pacific ocean around the Philippine Islands. In contrast, the chivalry-white colored ones appear closer to the Pacific Ocean around Australia and the Timor Sea. South Sea pearls typically range from $1,000 to more than $100,000, depending on their size, shape, and color.

5. Sea of Cortez Pearls

Our final category of pearls is the rarest and most luxurious type of cultivated pearls on the planet; Sea of Cortez pearls. Only 4,000 of these pearls are produced and released onto the market annually, making them very difficult to acquire. Sea of Cortez pearls are cultivated by only a single farm in Guaymas, Mexico, and are the only other naturally “black” colored pearls aside from Tahitian pearls. 

However, they possess more intense hues and color overtones than Tahitian pearls and feature a different selection of unique colors that set them apart from any other type of cultured pearl. Despite being much rarer than South Sea pearls, they aren’t quite as expensive and are usually available for between $200 and $36,000.

Related: The Difference Between Moissanite Vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

Final Thoughts

Our artisan jewelry experts from LaCkore Couture hope you’ve learned everything you wanted to know about five of the most popular types of pearls available on the market. Please consider exploring our shop today if you’d like to get your hands on an assortment of our handcrafted pearl jewelry. We offer a fine selection of gorgeous pearl necklaces and earrings to match any style!

Check out our LaCkore Couture shop for the best deals on artisan jewelry.