The pearl market can be confusing for someone who hasn’t been exposed to the different types of pearls and how they are valued. Here is an easy-to-understand, quick guide to what you should consider if you want to invest in pearl jewelry.
There are two main types of pearls: Freshwater and Saltwater pearls. It is generally accepted that saltwater pearls are more expensive because of their rarity and lower yield in harvests. Other categories are farmed versus wild, and then there are bead-nucleated versus tissue nucleated pearls. But the most important determining factor is quality, and this you can find across any of the above categories – it all depends on what your budget is and what style of pearl you are looking for within that budget.
It is generally accepted that freshwater pearls are more affordable than saltwater pearls because they yield a much bigger harvest. Akoya pearls are the only exception to the saltwater vs freshwater rule. They are saltwater pearls and are considered the ‘inbetweener’ pearl: smaller, and therefore more affordable than other saltwater pearls, yet with very high quality compared to most freshwater pearls. This makes them a great entry-level option for someone who wants to invest in their first string of pearls in the classic, fine jewelry white pearl style.
In recent years, the freshwater category has yielded another competitor which rivals the very high-end saltwater pearls not just in quality, but also size and color: the Edison pearl. This pearl is relatively new on the market and is a farmed pearl, but their quality, size and exotic colors make them an amazing addition to a jewelry collection. Read more about them here.
Choose freshwater pearls if:
Choose Akoya pearls if:
Choose Edison pearls if:
Saltwater pearls are more expensive, whether they are farmed (cultured) or wild (natural). These pearls are rare, with much lower yields and high production costs. White South Sea pearls, for example, are found in parts of the sea known to be ridden with sharks and snakes, and though technology has evolved and farmers are now able to breed Black and Golden South Sea pearls, the white-lipped oyster which produces the perfect White South Sea pearl still have to be collected in the wild. What’s more, these oysters take up to six years to produce a single pearl, whereas freshwater oysters can produce many pearls in the same time.
However, South Sea and Tahitian pearls are what collectors dream of and the rarity makes them even more wanted. When a farmer yields perfectly round, large South Sea pearl, they have a special, captivating ‘presence’ – what legends were born from – and they can outshine almost any pearl out there. Jewelry pieces made from these types of pearls can go for as much as $100 000.
Read more about South Sea pearls here.
Choose White South Sea pearls if:
Choose Golden South Sea pearls if:
Choose Tahitian Black pearls if: