Akoya pearls are the classic cultured pearls of Japan. They are the most lustrous of all pearls found anywhere in the world. In recent years, China has been successful in producing Akoya pearls within their own waters. However, at this time they are unable to produce as brilliant a lustre as high quality Japanese Akoya cultured pearls.
White South Sea (grown in Australia, Mynamar and Indonesia)
White South Sea cultured pearls are grown in large tropical or semi-tropical oysters in Australia, Mynamar, Indonesia and other Pacific countries. They generally range in size from 10mm to 20mm and command premium prices because of their relative rarity and large size.
South Sea Black (grown in French Polynesia)
South Sea black cultured pearls are grown in a variety of large pearl oysters found primarily in French Polynesia. Their beautiful, unique color and large size can command very high prices.
Freshwater (grown in Japan, China and the United States)
Freshwater pearls are easily cultivated from freshwater mussels rather than saltwater oysters. They are produced in great abundance, and are therefore generally the most moderately priced of all cultured pearl varieties. Their unique shapes and gentle pastel colors make them perfect gems for those on a budget.
Mabe Pearls (grown in Japan, Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, and the Philippines)
Mabe pearls are hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shell of any oyster rather than within the oyster’s body. They are generally used in ring, earring and pendant settings which cover their flat backs or reverse side.
Keshi Pearls (grown in Japan, Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, and the Philippines)
Keshi pearls, though not nucleated cultured pearls, are created by accident as a result of the sulturing process and these must be considered cultured pearls. Their unusual shapes and sizes are best used in unique jewelry designs.
Caring for Cultured Pearls
More delicate than other gemstones and precious metals, cultured pearls need special care to ensure they will remain clean, bright and lustrous for generations to come. Cosmetics, perfume and hair spray all contain elements that may dull the lustre of a pearl. Even acids present in the body oils and perspiration may have a damaging effect.
Here are a few suggestions that will surely help preserve the beauty of cultured pearls:
1. Pearls should be put on after the application of makeup, perfume or hair spray. After they are worn, a soft, damp cloth may be used to wipe them free of any of these harmful elements. Cultured pearls should be washed periodically with a mild soap.
2. Cultured pearls must be kept away from hard or sharp jewelry items that could scratch them. Pearls are best stored in a soft cloth pouch, or a separately lined segment of a jewelry box.
Necklace by David Yurman
3. Body oils and cosmetics also can damage the silk or nylon thread on which the pearls are strung. If the pearls are worn often, it is best to have them restrung by your local jeweler once a year to avoid strand breakage.
4. To prevent all the pearls from coming loose should a strand break, make sure the string is knotted between every pearl. Individual knotting also protects the pearls by keeping them from rubbing against each other.