Fine Jewellery Guide: Different Types Of Pearl

There are many different types of pearl, all highly desired for their classic appeal and iridescence. You may own some pearl jewellery or be thinking about making a purchase - but how much do you know about these beautiful, natural creations? From their formation to your purchase, we're diving into the different types of pearl...

Jersey Pearl silver heart stud earrings with freshwater pearls Jersey Pearl Aphrodite Silver Heart FWP Stud Earrings KSE1



How is a natural Pearl formed?


In the beginning...


Natural pearls are formed in oysters or molluscs. Each pearl is the by-product of an irritant (e.g. grain of sand) within the shell of the host. Once inside, the oyster/mollusc will form a substance known as nacre around the intruder in order to protect itself. After a while, this nacre will build up several layers and harden into a perfectly round shape or, a slightly misshapen circle (commonly seen in freshwater pearls). It's the secretion of nacre that creates the iridescence that pearls are famous for. 



What is the difference between a Saltwater Pearl and a Freshwater Pearl?


The round pearls we see are usually formed by a sea oyster or mollusc and harvested to make into jewellery. Saltwater pearls from China, Tahiti and other areas are highly sought after and are priced much higher than freshwater pearls.


However, freshwater pearls allow you to have the same lustre and opulent feel as a saltwater pearl - minus the hefty price tag. The difference with freshwater pearls is that they are produced in freshwater and the irritant has been placed inside the pearl to help cultivate it.



What are Cultured Pearls?


If a pearl is cultured, it means that the pearl was encouraged to form. The irritant is placed inside the mollusc by hand to artificially begin the onset of a pearl's creation. However, the pearl that is formed is still real and natural. 



What is a Seed Pearl?


A Seed Pearl is a very small pearl. Popular in older jewellery pieces, there were often many incorporated as decorative design.



What are Simulated Pearls?


Simulated pearls are artificial. They are a cheaper alternative to the real, naturally occurring pearls that you can buy. However, they are made to look and feel like a real pearl. Many popular, affordable jewellery brands incorporate simulated pearls into their designs. 

Swarovski Rose Gold Plated Simulated Pearl Bracelet Swarovski Rose Gold Plated Simulated Pearl Bracelet 5193123



Did you know?


While the traditional white pearl is the most popular, there are also other colour varieties available. Below, we have put together a pearl colour chart.


White – The innocence of white pearls represents beauty, purity and new beginnings

Blue – The wearer of a blue pearl will in time find love

Black or Gold – These pearls promote prosperity and wealth

Pink – Success, good fortune and fame come to the wearer

Brown – For those who seek practicality, masculinity, dependability and harmony


Jersey Pearl Pink Leather bracelet with Freshwater Pearl Jersey Pearl Joli Pink Leather Freshwater Pearl Bracelet JOL1-RO



Take a look at our Pearl Collection to discover your favourite, including award-winning pieces from Jersey Pearl. Fall in love with pearls at The Jewel Hut with free delivery available.