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About Cultured Pearls:

Virtually all pearls commercially available today are cultured, which means that they are derived through a process of artificial nucleation.

  • Cultured Freshwater Pearls - Since the 1990s the quality of Cultured Freshwater Pearls has improved dramatically and has brought good quality pearl jewellery within the reach of most people.  In addition to the freeform shape more usually associated with the label "freshwater pearls" there is now a reliable supply of rounder, more lustrous pearls.The cultivation process for freshwater pearls differs from that of saltwater pearls, with a small square of mussel mantle being inserted into the freshwater mussel to initate the process of laying down layers of nacre to form the pearl. The resulting pearl is, therefore, almost pure nacre. A freshwater mussel can produce many pearls at a time. The most common shapes resulting from this process are Button & Oval (60%), followed by Baroque (38%) and Round (2%). As well as the larger number of pearls derived the relative rarity of each of these different shapes of pearl drives their price, and the price of the resulting item of jewellery. 

  • Akoya Pearls - These high quality saltwater pearls are cultivated via bead nucleation, with a shell bead introduced into the wall lining of the small akoya oyster to initiate the process of laying down nacre. As the cultivation process commences with a round bead the resulting pearls are usually very round. However because akoya oysters are small the size of the pearl that can be cultivated is limited, with pearls over 9mm being relatively rare. As with all pearls akoya pearls become exponentially more valuable as their size increases. Akoya pearls typically have a high lustre and an unblemished surface.

Pearl Grading:

  • AAA - Near round to the eye.  High lustre, 95% free of any blemishes or marks. 

  • AA - Medium lustre with surface defects over not more than 80% of the surface area.

  • A - Noticeably off round. Very little to no lustre, 70% free of any blemishes or marks.