Pearls – The Gem of Queens - Saltwater Cultured Pearls

Janice Stiles

June Birthstones

June is one of only two months that has three birthstones associated with it: pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. Because I love pearls so much and work with them frequently, this month I am going to devote my newsletters to both saltwater and freshwater pearls.

If Emeralds are known as “the jewel of kings” then pearls are “the gem of queens”. Royalty wear pearls to symbolize prestige, wealth, purity, authority, power, femininity, beauty, and love. Pearls represent luxury and affluence, while also conveying a sense of innocence and virtue. They enhance the regal appearance of royalty and serve as a symbol of their authority and commanding presence. 

Pearls possess a captivating and unique iridescence, often referred to as "pearlescence." This phenomenon is a result of light interacting with the layers of nacre (mother-of-pearl) that make up the pearl's structure. It creates a play of colors and a shimmering effect, adding to the allure and beauty of pearls. 


Saltwater Pearls

Cultured Saltwater Pearls

Nowadays, there is an abundance of exquisite and gleaming items known as "pearls," and differentiating between real and fake pearls is simple. Gently rub it along the surface of your tooth carefully avoiding the edge so as not to scratch. If it feels gritty, it's a genuine pearl (cultured or natural, saltwater or freshwater). If it feels smooth, it's not a real pearl.

There are natural saltwater pearls but virtually all pearls sold today are cultured rather than natural. Natural pearls are formed inside mollusks through entirely organic processes, without any human intervention. Their occurrence is exceptionally rare, making them extremely valuable.

Cultured pearls, unlike natural pearls, require human involvement through the insertion of a nucleus or tissue into a mollusk. Like natural pearls, the development of cultured pearls occurs organically within the mollusk.

Cultured pearls, both saltwater and freshwater, are created when the mollusk forms a pearl sac around the inserted foreign object and over time, deposits layers of nacre, otherwise known as mother of pearl. Once the cultured pearl is ready, it is harvested, cleaned, and processed.

Dold South Sea Pearl

 Reticulated Silver and Golden South Sea Pearl - View

Saltwater cultured pearls, which are more expensive than freshwater, are typically found in the South Seas, Japan and Tahiti.
Gold South Sea pearls refer to a specific type of cultured pearl that is prized for its golden color and is primarily produced in the South Sea regions, including Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These pearls are cultivated in large oysters called Pinctada Maxima, which are known for producing larger-sized pearls.
Above all other cultured pearls, Gold South Sea pearls with their rare and luxurious appearance, are considered especially valuable. They exhibit a spectrum of golden hues, ranging from light champagne to deep, rich gold. The color is natural and is influenced by the oyster's genetics and the environment in which it is cultured.
Tahitian Grey Pearl


Another wonderful saltwater pearl is the Gray Tahitian pearl. They are highly sought-after cultured pearls sourced from black-lipped oysters (Pinctada Margaritifera) in French Polynesia specifically in the waters around Tahiti.  These pearls showcase beautiful shades of black/gray with hints of blue, green, or purple. Renowned for their size and distinctive colors, they are in great demand in the jewelry industry. Tahitian Pearls are the only naturally occurring black/gray pearls. You can find black cultured freshwater pearls, but they have been dyed and the color is not natural.

Cultured saltwater pearls, crafted through a delicate process that mimics nature's own creation, incorporate the same magic and beauty as their natural counterparts. These pearls offer a sustainable and accessible option for those seeking the appeal and elegance of saltwater pearls. With their fascinating iridescence and timeless appeal, cultured saltwater pearls continue to captivate. 

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