A Quick Guide for the First Time Buyer of Pearl Jewelry

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The first time you go shopping for pearl jewelry, it can be confusing. There are many names for various pearls, including areas of the world where they come from. The following is a quick guide to understanding the basic terminology of pearls that are used in the making and selling of pearl jewelry, especially those used in making a pearl necklace.

Pearls are found in nature

Most people are familiar with the source of a pearl from television shows and the movies. You see divers opening up claims in search of a pearl, and while it is true that clams and other mollusks produce pearls, it has become rare to find them in a natural setting. Almost all pearls are grown on pearl farms. However, there are still pearls that are found in nature, and they are still used to make jewelry. These are called natural pearls, and are something that you will rarely see at your local jeweler.

Pearls grown in salt water

These pearls are grown inside a mollusk that are indigenous to salt water. Japanese pearls, perhaps the most famous of the all, are cultured in salt water. They are referred to as Akoya pearls and have a classic white color to them. The South Sea pearls are also salt water and come from south of Japan, mostly Indonesia and the Philippines; however, these pearls are also cultured in Australia. Near Australia, in French Polynesia, is the source of the Tahitian Pearl. These salt water pearls are much bigger than those found in Japan. Their size can range from eight to 16 millimeters. Japanese pearls average around five millimeters in diameter. An alternative name for the Tahitian Pearl is black pearls, but this can be confusing because not all of these pearls have a black color to them.

Pearls grown in fresh water

These pearls are grown using mollusks in fresh water of rivers and lakes. A large majority of these pearls come from China, and visually they resemble the Japanese pearl more than any other. These pearls have become commonplace throughout he jewelry industry.

As you shop for pearl jewelry, keep the terminology mentioned above in mind. You should also know that that are a great many imitation pearls on the market, and unscrupulous people may attempt to sell them at a higher price stating that the pearls are genuine. To make sure you are buying genuine pearls, you should also purchase from a reputable dealer. One example is The Pearl Source. Their website can be found at

My name is Angela Ricardo Bethea and I am the founder and editor behind ( and many other online publications ) ... I love the finer things in life, I'm quite a shop-a-holic and a certified jet-setter. So if I am not behind my laptop to blog, I'd probably be shopping if not traveling.

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