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Do I get freshwater pearls or pearls?
A common question faced by many pearl buyers today is whether a particular strand of pearl consists of freshwater or cultured pearls. This question cannot have a definite answer because freshwater pearls are actually cultured pearls.
Freshwater Pearls Are Cultivated Pearls, But They Are Not Akoya
The reason so many buyers distinguish cultured pearls from freshwater pearls, is because “cultured pearls” is a trade term that is still used by many people today to describe akoya pearls. Although akoya pearls are cultured pearls, their nucleation process is a saltwater process and is much different from that of freshwater cultured pearls.
Know the Origin of Your Cultured Pearls To Know Their Value
This is important to understand when shopping for pearls because freshwater pearl sellers may describe their product as cultured pearls. It is always important to identify the origin of cultured pearls in order to make an informed purchasing decision, as a strand of freshwater pearls will never be as valuable as a strand of equivalent quality akoya pearls.
All Pearls Grown Today Are Cultivated Pearls, But Don’t Need Freshwater
Any pearl grown and marketed today, (other than those from the Persian Gulf) is considered a cultured pearl. This is because these pearls would not exist without human intervention. Freshwater pearls, although they may be solid nacre, are cultured pearls in which the shell nucleates with a piece of mantle tissue in the mantle tissue. All pearls cultured in saltwater are nucleated in the gonads with a piece of mantle tissue, and the mother-of-pearl bead, which is how the akoya pearl is nucleated. This is why akoya pearls are cultured pearls, but they are saltwater, not freshwater, and are much different in appearance and more valuable than freshwater pearls.