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Freshwater vs Saltwater Pearls: The Comprehensive Guide

by Celementa |

When it comes to pearls, there are two main types: freshwater and saltwater. Freshwater pearls are typically found in lakes, rivers, and ponds, while saltwater pearls come from oysters that live in saltwater environments like the ocean. Both freshwater and saltwater pearls have their own unique characteristics and benefits, so it can be tough to decide which type is right for you. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about freshwater and saltwater pearls! We will discuss the differences in formation and characteristics, as well as the pros and cons of each type. We'll also take a look at where you can buy freshwater and saltwater pearls online.


Where do pearls come from?

Both freshwater and saltwater pearls come from mollusks, which are creatures that have a soft body, a hard shell, and no backbone. There are many different types of mollusks, but the two main groups that produce pearls are freshwater mussels and saltwater oysters. Freshwater mussels are found in lakes, rivers, and ponds, while saltwater oysters live in saltwater environments like the ocean. Curious to know more? Read our article: Pearls 101

pearl necklace

Freshwater pearls 101: 


Characteristics of freshwater pearls 


Freshwater pearls are typically smaller than saltwater pearls, and they come in a wider variety of shapes and colors. They are also less expensive than saltwater pearls, making them a popular choice for everyday jewelry. Freshwater pearls are cultivated in freshwater mussels, so they are not as durable as saltwater pearls and should not be worn in the shower or while swimming.


Where do freshwater pearls come from?

Freshwater pearls are created inside freshwater mussels, which are found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. Most freshwater pearls are cultivated in China, but they can also be found in the United States, Japan, and other parts of Asia.



Types of Freshwater Pearls


There are many different types of freshwater pearls, including:

  • cultured freshwater pearls
  • freshwater pearl beads
  • freshwater pearl necklaces
  • freshwater pearl earrings
  • freshwater pearl bracelets

pearl choker

Forms of freshwater pearls 

There are many forms of freshwater pearls can come in. The most popular freshwater pearls are round pearl. However, you can also find freshwater pearls in an assortment of other shapes, including:

  • baroque freshwater pearls
  • semi-round freshwater pearls
  • coin freshwater pearls
  • oval freshwater pearls

Cultured freshwater pearls vs natural freshwater pearls 

The two main types of freshwater pearls are cultured freshwater pearls and natural freshwater pearls.

  • Cultured freshwater pearls are created in pearl farms, while natural freshwater pearls are found in the wild.
  • Cultured freshwater pearls come in a wider range of shapes and colors than natural freshwater pearls.
  • Cultured freshwater pearls are less expensive than natural freshwater pearls.
  • Natural freshwater pearls are more rare and valuable than cultured freshwater pearls.
  • Natural freshwater pearls are more durable than cultured freshwater pearls.

How much are freshwater pearls worth

 Freshwater pearls are less expensive than saltwater pearls, with the average price for a freshwater pearl necklace being around $50. However, natural freshwater pearls are more rare and valuable than cultured freshwater pearls, so you can expect to pay a higher price for one. The most expensive freshwater pearl ever sold was a 26-carat pearl necklace that sold for $357,000.




Pros and cons of Freshwater pearls 


Pros: 

  • Come in a wider variety of shapes and colors
  • Less expensive than saltwater pearls
  • Can be worn everyday

Cons: 

  • Not as durable as saltwater pearls
  • Should not be worn while showering or swimming


Saltwater pearls 101:


Characteristics of saltwater pearls 

Saltwater pearls are larger than freshwater pearls, and they come in a narrower range of shapes and colors. They are more expensive than freshwater pearls, but they are also more durable and can be worn in the shower and while swimming.

Where do saltwater pearls come from?

Saltwater pearls come from oysters that live in saltwater environments like the ocean. They are typically larger than freshwater pearls, and they come in a narrower range of shapes and colors. Saltwater pearls are cultivated in pearl farms, and most of the world's supply comes from Japan, China, and Australia.


Types of saltwater pearls 

There are three main types of saltwater pearls: Akoya, South Sea, and Tahitian.

  • Akoya pearls are the most common type of saltwater pearl and come from the Akoya oyster.
  • South Sea pearls are the largest type of saltwater pearl and come from the South Sea oyster.
  • Tahitian pearls are the most rare type of saltwater pearl and come from the black-lipped oyster in French Polynesia.
saltwater pearls guide

Cultured Saltwater Pearls vs Natural Saltwater Pearls

Saltwater pearls can be divided into two categories: cultured saltwater pearls and natural saltwater pearls.

  • Cultured saltwater pearls are created in pearl farms, while natural saltwater pearls are found in the wild.
  • Cultured saltwater pearls come in a wider range of shapes and colors than natural saltwater pearls.
  • Cultured saltwater pearls are more expensive than natural saltwater pearls.
  • Natural saltwater pearls are more rare and valuable than cultured saltwater pearls.
  • Natural saltwater pearls are more durable than cultured saltwater pearls and can be worn in the shower and while swimming.

How much are saltwater pearls worth

Saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater pearls, with the average price for a saltwater pearl necklace being around $200. However, the most expensive saltwater pearl ever sold was a black pearl that sold for $100,000.



Pros and cons of saltwater pearls 



Pros: 

  • Larger than freshwater pearls
  • More durable than freshwater pearls
  • Can be worn while showering and swimming

Cons: 

  • More expensive than freshwater pearls
  • Come in a narrower range of shapes and colors

Here all Pros and Cons of Freshwater and Saltwater pearls are summarized 

pros & cons of freshwater vs saltwater pearls - pearls guide

Difference between freshwater & saltwater pearls 

So, what are the differences between freshwater and saltwater pearls? The main difference is in the environment where they are formed. Freshwater pearls are created inside freshwater mussels, while saltwater pearls come from oysters that live in saltwater environments. Another key difference is the price. Saltwater pearls tend to be more expensive than freshwater pearls because they are more difficult to cultivate. However, freshwater pearls are not as durable as saltwater pearls, so they may not be a good choice for everyday wear.


How to tell difference between freshwater & saltwater pearls? 

freshwater vs saltwater pearls, difference between saltwater & freshwater pearls

The easiest way to tell the difference between freshwater and saltwater pearls is by their color. Freshwater pearls are typically white, off-white, or cream in color, while saltwater pearls come in a variety of colors including blue, green, black, and pink. You can also tell the difference by their shape. Freshwater pearls are typically round or oval in shape, while saltwater pearls come in a variety of shapes including round, baroque, and drop.


Where to buy freshwater & saltwater pearls online 

If you're looking to buy freshwater or saltwater pearls, there are many online retailers that offer a wide selection of both types. Here are a few of our favorites:


Freshwater pearls retailers: 

  • PearlsOnly: freshwater pearls in a variety of shapes and colors
  • The Pearl Source: freshwater pearls in round, teardrop, and baroque shapes
  • Just Pearls: freshwater pearls in a variety of colors

Saltwater pearls retailers:

  • The Pearl Source: saltwater pearls in round, teardrop, and baroque shapes
  • Just Pearls: saltwater pearls in a variety of colors



Is my pearl necklace is from freshwater or saltwater pearls? 


It's difficult to tell the difference between freshwater and saltwater pearls just by looking at them, but there are a few ways to tell if your pearl necklace is made from freshwater or saltwater pearls. One way is to check the clasp. Freshwater pearl necklaces typically have a freshwater pearl clasp, while saltwater pearl necklaces typically have a clasp. Another way to tell the difference is by the price. freshwater pearl necklaces are generally less expensive than saltwater pearl necklaces.



Conclusion: 

So, what’s the verdict? Are freshwater pearls or saltwater pearls right for you? Both types of pearls have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it ultimately depends on your personal preferences & meaning you want to convey. If you’re looking for a versatile pearl that can be styled in a variety of ways, then freshwater pearls are probably the best option for you. However, if you’re looking for a more luxurious and exotic pearl, then saltwater pearls may be a better choice. No matter which type of pearl you choose, make sure to take care & style your pearls properly.