Pearls are said to be the queen of all gems. One can say that they have been in existence since the start of time, but even today they remain popular jewelry pieces, especially for individuals born in the month of June.
Pearls are one of the few gems that originate from the ocean, and they don’t need any extra work or polishing to make them shine more. With pearls, you can add class and elegance to any outfit. They are a must-have in your jewelry collection.
As with other jewelry, there are different types of pearls that exist including cultured pearls. You must be wondering what are cultured pearls? Are they real pearls? How much are they worth? In this post, we will go through what they are, their true worth, and whether or not they are better than other pearls.
What Are Cultured Pearls?
As the name suggests, these are pearls grown and harvested from controlled suitable conditions that aren’t natural.
This act of culturing pearls has existed since the 20th century and the art is continually being evolved and improved. These types of pearls are grown in shellfishes or oysters either in freshwater or salty water.
The pearls come in a variety of types, shapes, colors, and sizes. It’s becoming increasingly possible to cultivate the desired shape, size, color, and type of cultured pearl on demand.
They are very popular because their method of production is a quick and easy way to meet the demands of pearls in the market. The majority of the pearls you see around today are cultured pearls.
Freshwater cultured pearls are more common since, in freshwater, the oyster can produce up to 8 pearls at once, while in saltwater, it can only produce one pearl once and cannot be used after that. The method of producing cultured pearls has increased its abundance and ensure that they are affordable gems for everyone.
Are Cultured Pearls Real Pearls?
Despite the name suggesting otherwise, cultured pearls are authentic pearls. They are grown and harvested in the same way and under the same conditions as other pearls.
The only difference is that their conditions are controlled by man and not nature.
Hence, you could call cultured pearls, man-made, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that they are just as authentic as naturally occurring pearls.
The Cultured Pearls Vs Real Pearls.
The biggest difference between, cultured pearls and what are referred to as real or otherwise natural pearls, is the conditions under which they are grown. As per their names, the natural pearls occur naturally, while cultured pearls are created intentionally.
What this means is, naturally, pearls are formed when an irritant accidentally enters the mollusk or oyster shell. Once the irritant is in the shell, it triggers the formation of layers of nacre around it, which form the pearls. Cultured pearls are also produced in the same way, the only difference is that the irritant is introduced or “seeded” into the shell purposefully by a pearl farmer in a process known as grafting.
Another difference is that unlike with natural pearls, the oyster used to create cultured pearls is nurtured and cared for by the pearl farmer until the pearls are harvested. With natural pearls, the oyster may die prematurely due to water pollution or sea predators among other unfavorable conditions. That is why natural pearls are rare compared to cultured pearls and would fetch a higher price in the market.
How Much Are Cultured Pearls Worth?
When valuing the price and worth of pearls, many factors come into play. One has to look at the size, shape, color, and luster of the pearl. You also have to consider the conditions under which the pearls are produced. Since cultured pearls are essentially man-made and cultivated under controlled conditions, they are in abundance compared to rare natural pearls.
As a result, the worth of a cultured pearl is less compared to that of a natural one. Jewelry made from natural pearls can go for a million or more, depending on whether they are freshwater or saltwater pearls. The worth of cultured pearls can range from as low as US$50 to as high as over US$160,000.
That of course also depends on whether they are freshwater or saltwater pearls, in addition to the size, shape, color, and luster. The larger, rounder, and more lustrous a pearl is, the more value it carries. Certain colors like white and gold-tinted pearls also have more value compared to other colors.
Are Old Cultured Pearls Valuable?
Pearls are considered to be very delicate gems, but the higher the quality, the more durable they are, especially when properly taken care of. Even with that said, high-quality pearls, hold up their value well over time which is why vintage pearls can fetch quite a lot of money today. As such, high-quality pearls would be a great future investment as well as the perfect heirloom to pass down to the next coming generations.
Some argue, however, that it is pointless to save up cultured pearls for future generations. They argue that with the advancement in technology, cultured pearls are becoming more and more abundant. As such, you will likely get a cultured pearl today at a cheaper price compared to your grandparents’ time.
What Is Better Freshwater or Saltwater Cultured Pearls?
From their names, you can easily tell the difference between these two pearls is that one is cultivated in salty water and the other is cultivated in freshwater. The important question, however, is which one has more value over the other?
Saltwater cultured pearls are cultivated in salty water. The pearls produced from saltwater oysters are often large, between 2-15mm. The common shapes harvested from these conditions are round pearls, and their color is almost always white, although you can get black pearls and sometimes pastel-colored ones. Saltwater oysters can only produce one pearl at a time. After that, the oyster cannot create any more pearls. As such, their mollusks are used as irritants to cultivate more cultured pearls. Their rarity, however, and the fact that they are rounder and whiter than freshwater cultured pearls, make them more valuable.
Freshwater cultured pearls are cultivated mainly in ponds or lakes, and rivers. The pearls harvested from the oyster are often white but can sometimes come in pastel colors of gold or pink. The common shapes of freshwater cultured pearls are round, teardrops, or oval. While these pearls are still lustrous and beautiful, they are less shiny compared to saltwater cultured pearls. This is because the nacre layers that form the pearls are thicker in freshwater. What’s more, oysters produce more pearls in freshwater. As result, these pearls are in abundance in the market and, therefore, less expensive compared to saltwater pearls.
It is, however, sometimes difficult to tell the two types of pearls apart. Both of them are beautiful and unique in their own right.
Thanks to cultured pearls being in abundance, pearl jewelry will continue to be timeless popular pieces. With the advancement in technology, they will hopefully also become more affordable with time. That way everyone can afford to enjoy the elegance, class, and beauty pearls add to one’s image.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.