By Anastasia Junelle on 11 October 2022
Pearls are naturally grown by shelled creatures called mollusks — think oysters and mussels — that live in saltwater seas and oceans or freshwater lakes and rivers. A “pearl” essentially refers to the hard object made of calcium carbonate that these mollusks create within their soft tissue. Pearls radiate hidden beauty and have been known as gems for the elegant and affluent. Today, these jewels are popular among all walks of life, for who is unable to resist the allure of the almighty pearl? We have pieces curated to pearl-fection on Dia!
Read on for our guide to differents sorts of pearls, and discover which queen of the gems speaks best to your taste and style:
The majority of freshwater pearls hail from China due to rich in-land water resources, and are commonly seen across the market. Freshwater pearls make for stunning affordable jewelry as they are cultured for a shorter duration and produce a batch of about 30 pearls at a time.
[In]trigue’s Voyage Collection features the Voyage U Earrings with 4 different-sized freshwater pearls, while the Voyage Pearl Tri-Ring has three, sleekly aligned pearls for a modern chic look. Another powerful affordable freshwater pearl accessory would be the Spectacular Pearl Choker crafted by Fugeelah.
Baroque Freshwater Pearls
Freshwater pearls also come in different shapes and sizes, and a non-spherical or irregularly shaped pearl is known as Baroque. These usually have a round and long shape with interesting dips and dents around the surface. Unlike traditional pearls, no two baroque pearls will be exactly alike. They are the truest shape of pearls which makes them more affordable.
Freshwater Biwa Pearls
Although most freshwater pearls are affordable, the finer specimens like freshwater Biwa pearls can fetch a hefty price. They are cultured from Japan’s largest lake — Lake Biwa — and are noted for their luster and quality surface. Produced in Japan, the higher labor costs result in a more expensive pearl. They are dramatic in style as very thin and long pearls.
Rice Freshwater Pearls
Resembling grains of rice, rice pearls are elongated with an uneven surface, almost like a mermaid’s tears of joy. The more oval-shaped the pearl, the higher the value, especially if there are no surface imperfections. Beyond the type of pearl, the value of pearl jewelry also depends on the number of pearls used, which is why pearl necklaces, for instance, are more expensive in price.
Tahitian South Sea Pearls
Saltwater pearls tend to have a heftier price tag as saltwater oysters typically only produce one pearl at a time, making them the most valuable pearls on the market today. Tahitian South Sea pearls, of the saltwater variety, have unparalleled beauty. These exotic pearls are naturally black with secondary hues. Their large size and thick nacre due to long growth period contributes to the high value of these pearls.
Glowing and pearlescent, mother-of-pearl actually refers to the iridescent lining in shells which are commonly found on oysters, mollusks, and abalone. Extracting this line is a delicate process, making mother-of-pearl expensive to produce. After being cut from the natural sea shells, they are drilled individually with high quality of craftsmanship. The distinct beauty of mother-of-pearl is achieved through light reflection and a coating of nacre, an organic and lustrous substance.
To add a discreet, everlasting glow to your look, try on Argent Studio 925’s Tomyris Necklace from the Persepolis Collection. And although mother-of-pearl is typically used for jewelry, it looks resplendent in decor too. Brighten up your dressing area with the stunning Mother-of-Pearl Siren Accessory Dish from Neil Felipp’s Siren collection.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.