FAQ - Pearls

Frequently Asked Questions


Are the pearls we sell real?

  • Yes! The pearls we sell are ‘cultured’ pearls, all this means is that the pearls are grown by pearl farmers. They are still produced by mussel and oyster shells in seas, rivers and lakes around the world.


What type of pearls do we sell and where do they come from?

  • Most of the pearls we sell are Freshwater Pearls, our freshwater pearls are produced by freshwater mussel shells in the rivers and lakes of China, mainly around the Shanghai region. Most of the styles in our brochure are Freshwater Pearls unless it states otherwise. 
  • Freshwater Pearls usually have a piece of donor mantle tissue used as an irritant this can lead many different shapes and sizes of pearl all being produced from a single mussel shell all at the same time. 
  • Apart from normal round/ off round freshwater pearls there are other freshwater pearls such as Keshi pearls & Coin pearls. 
  • Keshi Pearls (pronounced KESHI) Keshi Pearls are not nucleated meaning they are made from pure nacre and as a result have a high lustre and shine but tend to be very irregular in shape. Ours are freshwater Pearls (so from China) but you can get Saltwater Keshi Pearls as well. 
  • Coin Pearls The shape of the pearl can determined by the shape of the irritant used to nucleate the mussel or oyster. For Coin Pearls a coin shaped piece of bamboo will be used as an irritant and that will lead to the creation of a coin shaped pearl.


Saltwater Pearls

Saltwater Pearls are more expensive because they tend to be more perfect pearls, rounder, cleaner with a more satiny lustre. Saltwater Pearls are harder to produce than Freshwater Pearls. They grow in oysters which are small so only one or two pearls can grow per shell and there is a high failure rate. All of this leads to a higher price.

  • Saltwater Pearls are usually nucleated with a round shell bead and this leads to a more perfect round pearl being produced. 
  • We sell Akoya Pearls on these come from Japan and are a high price because of their perfect round shape, clean unblemished surface and their lovely lustre.
  • Mabe Pearls are produced by placing an irritant directly next to the inside of the oyster shell to encourage the growth of the pearl. The pearl is then cut away from the side of the shell in the required shape. These pearls come from Indonesia. 
  • We also sell a South Sea Pearls on Our South Sea Pearls come from Australia but South Sea Pearls were originally (and still are) produced in the South Seas, in the Philippines and Indonesia. 
  • The other saltwater pearls we sell are Tahitian pearls these are the only natural black/ dark grey pearls. Tahitian pearls have a beautiful metallic lustre and peacock tones that make them very desirable. These pearls are cultivated around French Polynesia & Tahiti.


How do you measure pearls?

  • You measure pearls across their diameter so the widest part of the pearl. We use a pearl measure to do this but as a gestimate you can measure a pearl by putting it alongside a ruler.


How can you tell if a pearl is real?

  • The best way to check whether a pearl is real is to examine it very closely. Genuine pearls have a glow and iridescence which is impossible to replicate. As pearls are natural objects you will also notice tiny differences between pearls on a single strand. There may be slight colour or shape variations or an odd blemish or growth mark. These differences just show that each pearl is a beautiful and unique gift from nature!
  • If you gently rub freshwater pearls against each other there will be a slight feeling of resistance this is something you won’t find with faux pearls. But be careful about using this as the only method of determining whether a pearl is real – Saltwater Pearls have a much smoother surface and can feel similar to fake ones.


How do you get different Coloured Pearls?

  • Freshwater pearls occur naturally in white, pink, lilac & peach
  • Akoya Pearls are white – black Akoya Pearls are dyed
  • South Sea Pearls (these can grow to be the biggest of all pearls) can vary from white to a deep honey gold
  • Tahitian Pearls (are called black but they vary from a deep grey to peacock tones.
  • To get different colours like lime greens, bright pink etc , pearls are dyed, they will be drilled first and then submerged in dye and water for several weeks to allow the colour to be absorbed. The colour should not come off these pearls and although they may fade a little over time, if cared for properly they will look beautiful for years to come.


What is lustre?

  • Lustre is the term used to describe the way that the light reflects from the surface of the pearl. The thinner and more numerous the layers of nacre the better the lustre. The very finest pearls have a mirror like lustre.


What Grade are our pearls A, AA or AAA???

  • This grading system is one which some countries use to determine the quality of a pearl. A perfectly round pearl with, a clean surface and a good lustre would be an AAA grade pearl whereas a misshapen pearl with growth marks and a poor lustre would be an A grade pearl.
  • The AAA grading system is not an internationally agreed measure on a pearls quality as one persons AA grade may be another persons A grade pearl. We do not use this system, but as a general rule of thumb price is a good indicator the more expensive the pearl the higher the quality it is likely to be. That does not mean that cheaper pearls are not beautiful in their own way they just may not have all the required hallmarks for a high price (round, totally clean, good size etc)
  • If you want to know more information about pearl grades please call us!