Next to diamonds, pearls are the most enduring jewellery item in the world. They have a classic beauty that will never go out of style and can add a dash of sophistication to any outfit.
While white pearls are probably the most enduring of them all, there are lots of other options for those who prefer something more unique.
Pearls can be elegantly understated, bold and striking, rich and earthy, or mysterious and otherworldly, depending on the pearl colour. We will explore all the different pearl colors out there, and help you to pick the best colour of pearl for you.
How Many Colours Of Pearls Are There?
While you may think of pearls as white or cream, there is actually a wide range of different colours of pearl. It is impossible to list the exact number of pearl colours, because it depends on how you categorize them.
Pearl colours are less like a set of distinct boxes and more like a rainbow of overlapping colours. And if you have ever looked at a pearl, you will know that it is full of undertones and overtones of various hues. For convenience’s sake, we have divided pearls into eight different categories.
What Pearl Colors Are There?
Below, you will learn about white, black, golden, lavender, blue, chocolate, peach, and pink pearls. But even within these categories, there are endless variations. Whether you prefer classic white, sophisticated black, or more unique pearl colours such as lavender or blue, there is definitely something for everyone.
White pearls have been around for centuries, and have truly stood the test of time. Because white is associated with innocence and purity, white pearls have always been a popular choice for brides. But their understated glamour is perfect for anyone who likes a classically elegant look.
White pearls come in three different types, which all have their own unique qualities. White Akoya pearls are the most popular of the three. These are a cool white with greenish or bluish undertones, and overtones of rose and cream.
White Freshwater pearls tend to be a warmer white, but some have a cooler finish. They have overtones of rose, silver, and cream. Last but not least, White South Sea pearls have a remarkable shine, and are usually a brilliantly bright, cool white. If you like really chunky pearls, these are the ones to choose as they can be up to 20mm in diameter.
Black pearls are much rarer than white pearls, and have had myths and folklore built around them for centuries. While this colour of pearl has been around for a while, they have only recently become popular as a jewellery item. We all know that black is the most versatile colour, but in a pearl it becomes mysterious, exotic, and very chic.
Like white pearls, black pearls come in three types. The most common is the Black Akoya, whose colour is not natural. Rather, it attains its jet-black hue through colour treatment. If you want a naturally black pearl, you could go for the exotic Black Tahitian pearl.
These range in colour from a pastel silver grey all the way to pure black, but most have overtones of peacock or blue green. Black Freshwater pearls also have peacock undertones but tend to be a more understated “denim” colour.
Golden pearls are some of the largest and rarest in the world, making them also some of the most coveted. They have only been on the market since the 1970s, but have quickly gained a reputation as the “Rolls Royce” of cultivated pearls. This is not surprising due to their luxurious golden hue.
Both Akoya Pearls and South Sea pearls come in gold colours. If you prefer a bolder, more neutral gold colour, the Golden South Sea Pearls are for you. In contrast, Golden Akoya pearls range from a pale lemon yellow to a deeper gold, with overtones from green to aquamarine to violet.
Some freshwater pearls are lavender in colour, an exquisitely feminine colour that is both understated and unique. As lavender is a variety of purple, these pearls symbolize nobility, wisdom, creativity, and compassion. The classic Lavender Freshwater pearls range from pale mauves to lilacs to deeper lavenders with overtones of aquamarine, silver, rose, and gold.
Another type of Freshwater pearl is named the “Purple Edison” and has a much darker, almost violet hue. They are also on the large side, ranging from 14-17mm. These are perfect for those who want a purple colour, but prefer something deeper and bolder. However, they are some of the most expensive pearls on the market due to their rarity.
Naturally blue pearls are a true rarity and have only recently entered the modern jewellery market. You are sure to be noticed with blue coloured pearls dripping from your neck or ears. At the same time, the colour blue denotes serenity, peace, loyalty, and intuition.
Most blue pearls have a blue-grey or silvery tinge, though black Tahitian pearls with blue overtones are sometimes put in this category. Blue Akoya pearls can have overtones of bright green, aquamarine, rose, and gold. However, they don’t get larger than 10mm in diameter. The South Sea variety is more of a silvery blue, and these range from 8mm all the way up to 17mm.
Chocolate pearls first entered the scene in 1990, and have only been gaining in popularity. Their rich, warm tones and subtle luxury suggest they will be around for quite some time. Their deep brown colour symbolizes comfort, elegance, warmth, and stability, making them perfect for the autumn and winter seasons.
Chocolate pearls are all Tahitian, with some being natural and others colour treated. The natural ones have overtones of gold, green, rose, and bronze, while the colour treated variety has a more solid chocolatey colour.
Peach and Pink Pearls
What speaks of soft femininity more than pastel pinks and peaches? These flirtatious pearls represent love and passion, but also kindness, compassion and loyalty, making them the perfect romantic gift. If you want to stick with naturally coloured pearls, Freshwater pearls are your only option.
Peach Freshwater pearls range from pastel peach to a darker apricot colour, while Pink Freshwater pearls run the gamut from soft bubblegum pinks to deeper mauve hues. Both versions don’t get larger than 10mm, and they can be as tiny as 1mm.
What is the Rarest Pearl Colour?
The rarest pearl colour is without a doubt naturally blue South Sea pearls. The colour of a pearl’s nacre usually comes from the colour of the mother of pearl inside the mollusc. However, it is thought that, unlike other pearl types, blue pearls get their colour from a metabolic disorder that the mollusc has.
Pink pearls are also some of the rarest in the world, the reason being they have never been successfully cultivated and only come from the queen conch snail. Most pink pearls that you see on the market have been colour treated.
Which Colour Pearl is Most Expensive?
Because they are the rarest, naturally blue and pink colour pearls tend to be the most expensive. In general, South Sea pearls are the most expensive, as the mussels that produce them can only make one pearl at a time. In contrast, freshwater mussels can make up to 30 pearls at once.
While coloured pearls are usually more expensive than the classic white, this does not hold up if you compare a cultured coloured pearl to a wild white pearl. Natural pearls are always more expensive due to their rarity and the difficulty that goes into finding them.
Which Pearl Colour Should I Choose?
When choosing the perfect pearl colour for you, you may want to consider your skin tone. If you have fair skin and want a coloured pearl, lighter colours like pink, peach, and silvery blue work very well. For darker complexions, rich, warm colours such as gold and chocolate are always beautiful. Pearls with silvery or blue overtones are perfect for those with olive skin. White and black pearls go with just about any skin tone, though it depends on whether you like a contrast or something more subtle.
Of course, budget should also play a role in your choice, but at the end of the day the pearl colour you choose comes down to personal preference.
Of all the pearls described above, which one calls out to you the most?
Is it a flirty pink, a striking black, rich chocolate, unique lavender, or the classically elegant white?
Whatever your unique style is, there’s a pearl out there for you.