What are Saltwater Pearls?
Saltwater pearls are pearls formed from oysters from the Aral Sea, seas, bays and bays. There are many types of sea pearls. Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls are the main types of seawater pearls.
Seawater pearls are 100% authentic. However, the origin of cultured mariculture pearls was initiated by humans, not by accident of nature. To make mariculture pearls, a bit of shell or other natural substance needs to be made into a specialized bead. It is then surgically inserted into a very specific section of the saltwater oyster by skilled pearl farmers. Oysters respond to this bead by secreting mother of pearl layer by layer on the bead. This process produces beautiful seawater pearls.
South Sea Pearls
The term "South Sea pearls" originally referred to pearls cultured in the waters off southern Japan. The first cultivation of South Sea pearls began in the mid-1950s. Pearls are cultured from pinnacle oysters or margaritas, usually over 10mm.
The cultivation of Tahitian pearls began in the 1960s using margarita pearl oysters from the waters around Tahiti and French Polynesia. Pearls are light grey, silver or black and are usually 8 to 17 mm in size.
Akoya pearls are seawater pearls produced from Akoya oysters. Akoya pearls have an intense luster and appear to have an inherent "shine" due to the large thickness of the nacre. Pearls are usually between 2 and 11 mm.
The Difference Between Saltwater Pearls and Freshwater Pearls
Generally, saltwater pearls are higher quality and more valuable, while freshwater pearls are the most affordable option.
In the past, freshwater pearls were considered inferior, but today technology has advanced to the point where freshwater pearls are as good as Akoya pearls. For example, Edison pearls are a new development in freshwater pearls and they look as good as any saltwater pearls out there.
The following are the main differences between seawater pearls and freshwater pearls:
Freshwater pearls generally have shorter harvest times than seawater pearls. Pearls are usually ready in about 6 months, while Akoya sea pearls can take 10-18 months. Longer time means more cost and labor for farmers.
Number of Pearls
Due to its large size and hardiness, freshwater mussels can produce up to 50 pearls at a time, while saltwater oysters can only produce 1-3 pearls at a time. Therefore, there are a lot of freshwater pearls on the market.
Nacre Quality and Luster
Freshwater pearls are nucleated with tissue, while seawater pearls are bead-nucleated. This means that freshwater pearls are made up of nacre from start to finish.
However, because seawater pearls take longer to grow, the quality of the nacre tends to be better. This results in a better shine. For example, Akoya pearls have a luster and reflection not found in most freshwater pearls.
Therefore, although seawater pearls have thinner nacres, they tend to have better nacre quality. But that is changing as freshwater pearl farming technology advances.
The size of the pearl depends on how long the mollusk has been secreting nacre. Because freshwater pearls have a shorter harvest time than seawater pearls, they tend to be small.
Today, however, you won't find much difference in size, as some freshwater pearls need to grow to larger sizes.
On a side note, seawater pearls have the largest variety of pearls, with South Sea pearls up to 20mm in size.
Color and Shape
Freshwater pearls are known as fashion-forward pearls because they come in a variety of colors and shapes. Because they are nucleated from a piece of tissue, most freshwater pearls are baroque-shaped.
Seawater pearls can be black (Tahiti) and gold (Golden South Sea), although they usually come in a variety of whites. These pearls also tend to be round, as they have a bead on the core, providing the oyster with a "template" to create perfectly round pearls.
Freshwater pearls are much cheaper than seawater pearls. This is because, firstly, mussels produce several pearls at a time, and secondly, they have a shorter growth time.
Additionally, saltwater pearls tend to have desirable colors, shapes, and sizes, making them even more in demand.
Because freshwater pearls are made of solid nacre, they are more durable than saltwater pearls. They tend to have better resistance to chipping, peeling or scratching.