When we think of pearls, we often think of a string of white beads worn by the world’s more glamorous women. While this may be the case, there are many different types of pearls, all of which are vastly different, but nonetheless exquisite.
We’ll be looking at one particular type of pearl here, and that’s freshwater pearls.
What Are Freshwater Pearls?
Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels and are often referred to as mussel pearls. These water sources and mussels can be naturally occurring or grown in pearl farms.
These pearls are referred to as cultured pearls, given that they need to be cultured and created – making them a more affordable option. They’re often seen as the whimsical variety of pearls due to their unique size and colours available.
Where Do Freshwater Pearls Come From?
One of the many questions you may be asking yourself is where do pearls come from?
The answer is simple, freshwater lakes, ponds, and dams. In these spaces, oysters and muscles are able to produce more than one pearl. The country most often associated with the production of freshwater, cultured pearls is China. They are also created in the United States and Japan. Cultured pearls are most often created using freshwater muscles, leading to them being called muscle pearls.
Natural pearls are incredibly rare as they’re once-off natural occurrences and difficult to come by. For this reason, most of the pearls on the market are cultured pearls.
Freshwater Pearls Grading
While many other gemstones such as diamonds have standardised, uniform grading systems, freshwater pearls do not. Many freshwater pearl manufacturers have compiled their own grading systems to indicate the quality of the pearls. They are often ranked from AAA to A, with A being the poorest quality.
Factors that influence the rating include the shape, lustre, and surface quality. It’s a tricky one due to the unique nature of each pearl and the fact that no two will ever be identical.
How to Choose Freshwater Pearls
When you look at buying a freshwater pearl, you need to look at the lustre, surface quality, and shape. The lustre should be bright, and you should be able to see your reflection in the pearl. If the colour is dull or chalky, it’s of inferior quality and should be avoided. When it comes to buying a pearl, you need to look at the rating scale used by the jeweller. You should also request a certificate for the pearl purchased indicating the grade and value.
Why Do Freshwater Pearls Have Ridges?
As the pearl forms, it will rotate around inside of the oyster or muscle. This rotating motion pushes the pearl against the shell, carving out a line as a result. Saltwater pearls do not have ridges, making this one of the key differentiating factors between the two types of pearls.
How to Care for Freshwater Pearls
Pearls are soft by nature and as a result, can be easily damaged. To ensure that your investment lasts, we have a few tips for caring for them.
- Store your pearl in a soft bag, away from your other jewellery.
- Wipe them down after use with a soft cloth.
- Avoid wearing perfume or lotion as the chemicals can damage the pearl.
- Do not wear pearls in water, it will impact the quality of the jewellery and the appearance of the pearl. If they do get wet, dry them immediately.
- Check the string regularly to prevent it from snapping or breaking.
Are Freshwater Pearls Real Pearls?
Yes, freshwater pearls are real. They are grown in freshwater bodies such as ponds and lakes. In addition to this, most pearls on the market are cultured pearls. If you do find natural pearls, they will be quite expensive due to their rare nature.
Fake pearls may feel a lot smoother, while real pearls have a textured surface. The ultimate test is rubbing the pearl against your tooth. If it feels rough, it’s real. Fake pearls also feel plastic, depending on the materials used of course.
Are Freshwater Pearls Worth Anything?
This is the million-dollar question, how much are pearls worth?
After all, you need to know what you should be paying and if it is worth the investment. Pearls are often sold as a strand, with the value ranging from $50 to $2000. The exact value of the cultured pearls will depend on the grading of the pearls used. The more perfect the shape and vibrant the lustre, the more they will be worth.
Are Freshwater Pearls Rare?
Perfectly round freshwater pearls are rare and as such carry a more impressive price tag. In addition to this, natural freshwater pearls are also rare as they are a once-off occurrence. Cultured pearls are more common and easier to get your hands on, making them the more affordable option.
Where To Buy Freshwater Pearls
Freshwater pearls can be bought from most jewellery stores. Antique stores are also a fantastic place to look for pearls, and may even offer a more unique, valuable jewellery piece. When buying pearls, always ask for a certificate to authenticate the value as well as the investment.
How Do You Tell If Freshwater Pearls Are Real?
There are a few things to look out for when it comes to buying a real freshwater pearl. The first thing is the classic ridge, only found on freshwater pearls. Next, you’ll want to feel if it has a gritty texture. A rough texture is a tell-tale sign it is real, if it’s smooth it is more than likely a fake.
Can Freshwater Pearls Get Wet?
You’d think the answer to this was obvious but it’s not!
Muscle pearls can get wet; however, we don’t recommend submerging them in water or leaving them wet as it can impact the quality of the pearl as well as the design elements. For example, water may loosen the glue of the earring or weaken the strength of the string.
What is the Difference Between Pearls and Freshwater Pearls?
The truth is, there is no real difference other than the environment in which the pearl was made. It’s either made in saltwater or freshwater and can either be natural or cultured. Natural pearls are more expensive as they are rare and difficult to find. In terms of make up and quality, you’ll need to refer to the certificate of authenticity to ensure that you are buying a real pearl as well as the value of the pearl purchased.
Pearls are a classic, versatile gemstone. Contrary to popular belief, they are not perfectly round and not all of them are white. This has given way to so many unique pearl-inspired creations and allowed individuals across the globe to invest in pearls that suit their personalities.
Always try to buy your pearls from a reputable source and insist on receiving a certificate to validate the value of the item purchased. In addition to this, there are ways to ensure that you are buying a real freshwater pearl, ranging from the surface quality to the ridge as well as the lustre and shape.
If it looks too perfect, then it’s not real as real pearls have imperfections that make them unique.
Jump To a Section Below
- What Are Freshwater Pearls?
- Where Do Freshwater Pearls Come From?
- Freshwater Pearls Grading
- How to Choose Freshwater Pearls
- Why Do Freshwater Pearls Have Ridges?
- How to Care for Freshwater Pearls
- Are Freshwater Pearls Real Pearls?
- Are Freshwater Pearls Worth Anything?
- Are Freshwater Pearls Rare?
- Where To Buy Freshwater Pearls
- Can Freshwater Pearls Get Wet?
- What is the Difference Between Pearls and Freshwater Pearls?