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The Ultimate Guide to the Many Different Types of Pearls

Globally speaking, experts think the pearl market could exceed $16.8 billion by 2022. Knowing the types of pearls out there will help you create and select trendy jewelry on your own.

In 2018, pearly only accounted for two to three percent of retail jewelers’ sales. Now, pearls are gaining popularity, and they’re especially trendy amongst millennials.

If you don’t know your pearls, you could get ripped off. Learning about pearls will make you an informed consumer, and an informed consumer is a happy consumer.

Here are some different types of pearls you should know about:

Saltwater vs. Freshwater Pearls

The two main categories of pearls are saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls. Saltwater pearls, which come from mollusks in oceans, are rarer/more high quality and more expensive as a result.

Freshwater pearls come from mollusks in lakes, rivers, and ponds. They vary in shape more than saltwater pearls do, and are mainly imported from China.

Akoya pearls are the most common type of saltwater pearl on the market. Japanese Akoya pearls are the most well-known pearls in the world.

Here are two other pearl categories to consider:

Natural vs. Cultured

Pearls are either natural or cultured. The difference is that natural pearls grow without human intervention, whereas cultured pearls grow due to a farmer inserting a mollusk into the oyster shell. Cultured pearls are more affordable and widely available than natural pearls are.

Cultured pearls are the best types of pearls for jewelry. In fact, most of the pearl jewelry on the market contains cultured pearls. Imitation pearls are entirely fake but still stylish.

Akoya pearls are usually cultured, as are Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls. Speaking of South Sea pearls:

South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls are the most expensive type of pearl. Their large size contributes to their high market value. A strand of cultured South Sea pearls ranges anywhere between $1,000 and $100,000.

It’s important to pair South Sea pearls with high-quality metal and jewelry-making techniques. Fortunately, CousinDIY is offering a free masterclass for pearl knotting techniques. There’s even a supply list for your convenience!

South Sea pearls fall into this next category:

Baroque Pearls

Baroque pearls refer to pearls with a non-spherical, irregular shape. The most valuable and expensive types of baroque pearls are Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls.

However, most baroque pearls available are freshwater pearls. This is good if you’re making or buying jewelry on a budget.

Pearls for DIY Jewelry

Fortunately, there are pearl beads that are specifically designed for DIY jewelry. They come in different types of pearls’ colors, sizes, and materials, including glass.

Our Swarovski 8mm Powder Almond Pearls will make any piece of jewelry you create look classic and elegant. We also have Swarovski pearl beads available in cream and rose colors.

Get the Types of Pearls That Rock Your World

As a symbol, pearls represent wisdom acquired through experience. Consider yourself wiser now that you know about the types of pearls that exist.

Buying pearls online will help you save money. After all, pearls and pearl beads cost more in brick-and-mortar stores.

Get creative and classy—check out our Swarovski selection. That way, anyone who wears your handmade jewelry will look more glamorous than ever. 

About DIY Dream Team

Our passion? Fuel your creativity for 40 years with unique jewelry-making courses.

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