Pearl Guide - Part 2

Freshwater Pearls

Here are examples of the wide variety of shapes, colors and luster of some of the freshwater pearls in my collection!


People often ask if freshwater pearls are “real” pearls. 

Using the test in Pearl Guide, Part 1—check it out below if you haven’t read it—absolutely! 

Freshwater pearls are grown using mussels that reside in freshwater, as opposed to salt water. They come in a wide variety of shapes and the “type” is found in its name. For example: potato, stick, button, coin, drop, off–round, round and baroque. Baroque means “not round” so these pearls come in a multitude of unusual shapes. Typical sizes for freshwater pearls are 5-10mm, although they can be as small as 1-2 mm and as large as 15mm. 

Pearls are evaluated using a number of criteria. The most important to me in buying and using freshwater pearls are surface quality and luster, together with color. Surface quality should have minor divots or blemishes, with 75-90% clean surface area. Luster is about reflections and is what creates a fabulous pearl. Look for bright reflections; this is a good pearl.  Pearls with poor luster appear dull and flat. 

Colored freshwater pearls can be natural or dyed. Typical natural colors include white, cream, yellow, orange, pink and purple. The color depends on the type of mussel, its diet and growing environment. Color also has some other characteristics. First is the bodycolor, which is the pearl’s main color. Overtone is a translucent color that lies over the main bodycolor, which is more likely to be found in saltwater pearls. Freshwater pearls have something called “orient”. This is where they shimmer! Take your pearls into the sunlight and see what happens. If you see multiple colors just below the surface, that is orient! The cost of jewelry containing freshwater pearls will vary depending on all of these factors. 



Pearl Guide - Part 1

How To Tell If A Pearl Is Real!

There are so many beautiful shiny objects called “pearls” these day, but it's easy to tell the real ones from the fake ones. To do so, gently rub the pearl against the front of your tooth; if it feels gritty, then it’s a real pearl, whether cultured or natural. If it feels smooth, then it’s not a real pearl regardless of the description. Be careful to not use the edge of your tooth, as you could scratch the pearl!

What kind of pearls are there?

There are really just two kinds of pearls- freshwater & saltwater- with both being real pearls. The details of various pearl descriptions tell a bit about the environment they were grown in as well as the color, size, shape, & price. Pearls come from mollusks even though some folks talk about pearls coming from mussels, which are a type of mollusk. Within the freshwater & saltwater, basic growing conditions have many more possibilities!

Ready to Try Some Pearls?