Pearls come in a variety of colors. The common freshwater pearls are gold, purple, pink, blue and cream. Saltwater pearls have fewer colors, generally silver-white, gold, blue and black. In addition to the size and roundness of pearls, the main reason for evaluating the quality of pearls is color. The color of the pearl is related to the trace elements contained in the pearl. The yellow series such as gold and cream mainly contain more copper and silver elements, while the pink pearl contains more trace elements of sodium and zinc.
From the iconic Akoya pearl to the fascinating South Sea pearl, the white pearl has been known as the “it pearl” for centuries. Due to the subtle elegance and versatility of white pearls, both men and women like to wear and enjoy white pearls.
White Pearl Fast Facts
White Pearl Types: White Akoya, White South Sea and White Freshwater pearls.
Common Overtones: Rose (a hint of pink), Cream/Ivory (think a tint of French Vanilla) and Silver (closest to a true, bright white).
Sizes: White pearls can be as small as 1.0-2.0mm seed pearls, up through the very largest 20.0mm sizes.
Fun Fact: The color white is associated with purity, which is why pearls have traditionally been worn by brides.
Black and exotic black pearls have captured the imaginations of men and women around the world for centuries.Black pearls are a hundred times rarer than white pearls and are endowed with a variety of mystical attributes and legends.
Black Pearl Fast Facts
Black Pearl Types: The only naturally-colored cultured black pearls are black Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia and Sea of Cortez pearls from Guyamas, Mexico. Black Akoya and Black Freshwater pearls are also available, but are color-treated (usually dyed) to reach the darker hues.
Common Overtones: The most common overtones for black pearls are Peacock (Green, Gold and Rose mixture), Green, Blue-Green, Rose, Silver, Copper and Aquamarine. Intensities and hues vary - quite a lot.
Sizes: Generally Tahitian and Sea of Cortez pearls range from 8.0mm up through 16.0mm and higher.
Did You Know: Polynesian lore describes the god Ono coming down from the heavens on a rainbow to gift his beloved princess the first black pearls. The pearls were imbued with the colors of his magical rainbow.
Tahitian pearls are one of only two naturally-colored black pearls in the world.
Tahitian pearls are cultured in the Pinctada margaritifera saltwater pearl oyster in French Polynesia, and range in size from 8.0-9.0mm through 14.0-15.0mm and larger. The pearls feature primary body colors ranging from pale dove grey to dark charcoal grey to near jet black hues.
Popular overtones are: Peacock, Cherry, Blue-Green, Neutral Silver/Steel and more.
The naturally golden South Sea pearl is one of the largest and rarest cultured pearls in the world.Cultured South Sea pearls come from tropical lagoons and atolls in the Philippine Islands and Australia and range in color from light champagne to intense 24-karat gold.
Fast Facts for Golden Pearls
Common Overtones: Neutral (Yellow) Gold, Silver, Rose, Green/Bronze and Champagne overtones
Sizes: South Sea pearls range from 9.0mm up through 16.0mm sizes and higher.
Golden Pearl Lore: Golden pearls are said to imbue their owner with wealth and prosperity. The Chinese often depicted the dragons (said to be harbingers of great luck) bearing golden pearls in the mouths or claws.
Golden South Sea pearls with 14K Golden body colors are considered a “Medium-Tone” Golden hue.
Pearls featuring the 14K Medium-Deep Golden hue are among the most common body colors available. Shimmering with Neutral Gold or Rose overtones, these Golden pearls look great on the largest array of complexions.
Pink and Peach Pearls
Naturally colored pink pearls are cultured in the Freshwater pearl mussel, Hyriopsis cumingii (along with various hybrid mussels bred to produce unique colors and sizes) in freshwater aquaculture ponds on China. Each Freshwater pearl mussel can be nucleated up to 25 times on each side of the shell, making for a stunningly colorful harvest.
Pink to Peach Pearl Fact Sheet
Common Overtones: Aquamarine, Green, Gold and Rose hues.
Sizes: Cultured pink to peach Freshwater pearls range in size from 4.0-12.0mm, with average sizes ranging from 6.0-9.5mm. Newer cultured pearl techniques are producing larger bead-nucleated Freshwater pearls like ‘Edison’ pearls that routinely measure 14.0-16.0mm on average.
Recommended Pairings: Yellow gold is the most popular and traditional color use with pink to peach Freshwater pearls. It “warms” up the pink and golden hues already present in the pearl’s surface, and enhances their sparkle. White gold is less often used, but is an interesting and unique pairing with pastel baby to deeper pink colors, and can boost any Aquamarine to Green overtones present on the pearls.
Candy-colored Pink and Peach pearls are Freshwater pearls cultured in China, and are 100% natural.
They range from pale peach to apricot (orange-ish) to pale baby pinks and deeper true-pink hues. Silvery-pinks and mauves are also included in this gorgeous palette.
Naturally colored Lavender Freshwater pearls are cultured in the Freshwater pearl mussel, Hyriopsis cumingii. These large pearl mussels are bred and cared for in freshwater aquaculture ponds and lakes in China. Nucleated up to 25 times per each side of its shell, a Freshwater pearl harvest is a very colorful affair, yielding shades of Lavender, Pink, Peach and White pearl colors.
Lavender Pearl Fast Facts
Common Overtones: The most common overtones on Lavender Freshwater pearls will be cooler shades of Aquamarine and Green. Warmer shades of Gold and Rose can also be observed.
Sizes: Common Freshwater pearls range in size from 4.0-12.0mm, with an average size of 6.0-9.5mm found in most jewelry stores today. Ultra-large pearls ranging from 13.0-16.0mm are now coming onto the pearl markets in the form of ‘Edison’ pearls which are bead-nucleated.
Recommended Pairings: White gold is the most popular and traditional choice for pairing with Lavender pearls – it cools the pearls down and enhances their lovely Blue, Aquamarine and Green overtones. Yellow gold creates a high contrast between the pearls and their clasps or mountings which is visually eye-catching, and can help enhance any Gold or Rose overtones present.
Delicate to deeper shades of Lavender are a natural color seen only in cultured Freshwater pearls from China.
The colors can present as pale lilac to silvery-purple to deeper lavender and do include mauve tones as well.
Blue maybe the rarest and most unique pearl color of them all, true blue pearls are one of the wonders of the world. Naturally blue-colored pearls come in astonishing array of hues from pastel Sky Blue to dark Midnight Blue colors, with an even wider array of dazzling overtones.
Blue Pearl Fast Facts
Blue Pearl Types: Naturally colored blue pearls are a special rarity, available only in blue Akoya, Silver-Blue White South Sea, Tahitian or Sea of Cortez pearl types.
Common Overtones for Blue Pearls: True blue Akoya pearls display very strong overtones of Blue, Aquamarine, Rose and Violet. Blue-overtoned pearls such as the Tahitian or Sea of Cortez pearl types will feature variations in their overtone range including Green, Blue-Green, Cerulean, Teal, Violet and more.
Sizes: Due to the variety of pearl types that the blue color is available in, the size ranges vary widely. Blue Akoya pearls range from 7.5-9.5mm on average. Silver-blue White South Sea pearls range from 9.0-16.0mm and larger. Blue colored Sea of Cortez pearls have a small range from 8.0-11.0mm, and Tahitian pearls can range from 8.0-14.0mm.
Interesting Blue Pearl Fact: Blue Akoya pearls are farmed in Japan and Vietnam; their colors are thought to be the result of a metabolic disorder.
Chocolate pearls became incredibly popular quite recently – designers such as Erica Courtney helped solidify their status as red carpet worthy gemstones. Chocolate Tahitian pearls can be naturally colored or dyed their trademark colors … Guess which ones we prefer.
Quick Facts About Chocolate Pearls
Chocolate Pearl Types: Color-treated Chocolate Tahitians, naturally-colored Chocolate Tahitians and dyed Chocolate Freshwater pearls.
Chocolate Pearl Overtones: The most popular and common overtones are Gold, Rose and subtle tones of Green/Bronze. These colors shimmer over “Dark Chocolate” and “Milk Chocolate” body colors.
Sizes: These can range in size from 9.0-14.0mm, but the average size is 10.0-12.0mm.
Recommended Pairings: Yellow gold is probably the prettiest pairing for clasps and mountings as it enhances the warmer shades of gold present in the pearls. White gold can be used to create an interesting visual contrast, but care should be taken to pair use pearls with Dark Chocolate body colors and Greenish overtones.
The term ‘Multi-color’ refers to a layout design rather than a pearl color, and can be composed of Freshwater, Tahitian or South Sea pearl types.
Multi-Colored Pearls Fast Facts
Multi-Color Pearl Types: Multi-colored Tahitians, Multi-colored South Sea pearls and Multi-colored Freshwater pearls are all available in both round and baroque shapes.
Sizes: These can range in size from 6.0-7.0mm up through 15.0-16.0mm and higher, depending on the pearl type you choose.
Recommended Pairings: Yellow gold is ideal of Multi-colored South Sea pearl necklaces as the clasp won't clash with the Golden South Sea pearls mixed into the layout. For Tahitians, white gold clasps are always popular, especially considering their cooler color spectrum. For warmer Tahitian mixes that feature heavy amounts of green, gold or cherry then consider yellow gold pairings to warm these pearls up! Multi-colored Freshwater pearl necklaces and bracelets could go either way, but I tend to recommend the yellow gold option to enhance the pink and creamy white colors of the pearls and add an extra touch of luxury to the layout.
Fun Fact: Multi-color South Sea pearl necklaces are also known as Pelosi-pearls, named after the woman who wore them as her “trademark jewel”.
Tahitian multi-color necklaces are mixes of very light and very dark grey body color pearls with a wide range of overtones.
The resulting necklaces can be whimsical, artistic and beautiful. Due to the endless variety of color combinations and overtones, Multi-color Tahitian Pearl Necklaces are as unique as the owner - no two are ever exactly the same.