Types of Pearls: Akoya, Tahitian, Freshwater and South Sea

A charming strand of pearls can never go out of fashion. Experts consider pearls one of the most popular and best jewelry investments. However, picking the right one can be a daunting task with a wide variety of pearls available in the market. 

Do you also like pearls but need better insight into their types? Great. Here is an in-depth and quick guide to the different types of pearls that exists in 2023. It will help you pick the perfect pearl type for your next outing. 

Natural Pearls vs Cultured Pearls

There are two different types of pearls; natural and cultured.

Pearls that form in mollusks or oysters naturally are called natural pearls. Please note that a natural pearl can take a couple of years to get ready. Being the favorite of the royals, natural types of pearls still rule the market with their lustrous sheen. 

On the other hand, we get cultured pearls from harvesting and farming processes. Here, the farmers cultivate mollusks or oysters on pearl farms. Cultured pearls are more affordable and come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. 

So, which is better, natural pearls or cultivated pearls? You see, both these pearl types are identical in composition and appearance. The difference lies in their price range and origin.

Saltwater vs Freshwater Pearls

All the pearls available on the planet can be divided into two pearl varieties; saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls. Let us understand more about these different kinds of pearls:

The pearls formed in oceans are called saltwater or ocean pearls. They are usually found in the regions of Thailand, Tahiti, Australia, and Indonesia. Moreover, these saltwater pearls in the ocean are expensive but slightly less durable than freshwater pearls. Do you wonder which sea pearl is found in India? Pearl oysters are found in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and the Gulf of Kutch. 

Pearls that are grown in oysters in rivers and lakes are called freshwater pearls. They are usually found in the USA, Japan, Australia, China, and India. These Asian pearls are also less lustrous and smaller in size than saltwater pearls. However, please note that almost all saltwater and freshwater kinds of pearls come under the category of cultured pearls. 

Also see: An Ultimate Guide to Pearl Shapes

Main Types of Pearls 

Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are the classic white pearls that every woman desires to have in her jewelry collection. Perfectly round shape, bright shining luster, and pristine white color are the features of Akoya pearls.

  • Akoya Pearl Origin 

Akoya pearls are majorly cultured in Japan, Vietnam, and China. However, Japan produces the largest number of Akoya pearls.

  • Akoya Pearl Sizes 

Usually, they are available in the size range of 2.0 to 10.0mm.

  • Akoya Pearl Shapes

Akoya pearls are the perfect pearls found on the planet. They are perfectly spherical and can sometimes be baroque.

  • Akoya Pearl Colors

You see, a traditional Akoya pearl will is usually white. But can sometimes come with golden and silvery blue hues. You should research south sea pearls vs Akoya to learn more about the types of pearl.

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South Sea Pearls (Golden and White) 

Golden South Sea pearls are the highest valuable and rarest pearls in the world. Surprisingly, a single strand of these pearls at times takes years to cultivate and assemble. On the other hand, White natural south sea pearls are known for their brilliant satin luster and luxurious size.

  • South Sea Pearl Origin 

South Sea pearls are majorly found in the Philippines. And the White South Sea pearls are found in Australia. 

  • South Sea Pearl Sizes 

Both varieties come in a size range of 8.0 to 20.0mm.

  • South Sea Pearl Shapes

Both varieties come in round and baroque shapes.

  • South Sea Pearl Colors

Golden South Sea pearls are golden in color. At the same time, White South Sea pearls are white.

Tahitian Pearls

These are the dark pearls that enjoy massive popularity around the world.

  • Tahitian Pearl Origin 

They are cultured at Fresh Polynesia. 

  • Tahitian Pearl Sizes 

Size ranges from 8.0 to 15.0mm. Get in touch with a gemologist to know more about the Tahitian south sea pearl sizes.

  • Tahitian Pearl Shapes

Mostly baroque and round

  • Tahitian Pearl Colors

They are found in black, dark green, charcoal, and grey 

Freshwater Pearls 

Freshwater pearls are largely known for their versatile sizes, shapes, and colors. The list of different pearls is endless.

  • Freshwater Pearl Origin 

The majority of Freshwater pearls are found in China’s Freshwater Lakes. 

  • Freshwater Pearl Sizes 

They are available in a size range of 2.0 to 15.0mm.

  • Freshwater Pearl Shapes

Freshwater pearls are usually round in shape. 

  • Freshwater Pearl Colors

White, pink, lavender and white are the popular Freshwater pearl colors. 

Also see: Everything you need to Know about Pearl Color

Unique Types Of Pearls

Keshi Pearls

Also known as poppy seed pearls, Keshi pearls have no standard shape. And this feature takes the credit for its roaring popularity. They can be found in either Freshwater or Saltwater, making them one of a kind.

Mabe Pearls 

Also known as half or blister pearls, Made pearls look like normal pearls from the outside. But it is flat at the back. These stunning pearls make for a voguish jewelry piece and are very charming and elegant. 

Sea of Cortez Pearls

These pearls are cultured in the Gulf of California in Mexico. It is the rarest black cultured pearls in the world. They make stunning pieces of jewelry. 

Baroque Pearls

Apart from color and origin, pearls are assessed according to their shapes. There are two major pearl shape categories; traditional and baroque. Traditional pearls are round, whereas baroque can be anything else like:

  • Twin pearls

When two pearls are combined to form one, they are called twin pearls. These mismatched symmetrical pearls are popular for crafting earrings. 

  • Coin pearls

These are flat, smooth, round-shaped pearls with reflective surfaces. They are widely used in necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. 

  • Rice pearls

Rice pearls are naturally small, round pearls that do not have any specific spherical dimensions. 

  • Egg pearls

Egg pearls are eggshell-shaped pearls that come with a heavy bottom. They are a popular choice for hanging jewelry.

  • Heart pearls

These are flat, heart-shaped pearls that are widely used in crafting romantic pieces of jewelry. 

  • Keshi pearls

These unique pearls occur when the oyster discards a part of the seed. They can be anything like long, thin, round, oval, or even square in shape. 


So, this is all about the types of pearls that are gaining popularity in 2023. Whatever pearl type you choose, ensure it matches your attire and adds charm to your appearance. The best part is that you can get a wide range of variety to choose from and experiment with. 







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Navkiran lives in Punjab state of India with her husband and an exceptionally perfect furry companion named RAIN. When she is not writing, you can find her busy cooking, decorating & organizing her home, or watching TV series.

Navkiran Dhaliwal is a pro blogger and copywriter with 10+ years of experience working with clients from all over the world. She has written for several renowned online magazines and newspapers.

Navkiran lives in Punjab state of India with her husband and an exceptionally perfect furry companion named RAIN. When she is not writing, you can find her busy cooking, decorating & organizing her home, or watching TV series.

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