Sizes of Saltwater Pearls

When it comes to diamonds, most people understand something about their size and how that size is determined. While pearls are graded in a very similar fashion to diamonds – most don’t understand what the different sizes of pearls mean. While this is a pretty in-depth topic we will do our best to give you a basic understanding of pearl sizes and how they compare to each other.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya Pearls come from the pearl farming waters of Japan and of the three saltwater varieties are the smallest in size. These pearls tend to range from 2mm all the way to the more rare size of 10mm. The average size of Akoya Pearls are between 7mm and 8mm. Many times strands will have a slight variance in order to create a perfectly matched strand. Unless it is a graduated pearl strand, this slight difference in sizes is not noticeable.

Here is a great visual of a 2mm Akoya Pearl, a 5mm, 7mm and 10mm. You can see in comparison to the penny how these vary in size.

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Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian Pearls are the second largest in size of saltwater pearls. Tahitian Pearls are farmed in the waters of the French Polynesia. These pearls range in size from 9mm to 18mm with the average size being 13mm. These gorgeous pearls come in a wide variety of unique shapes and like Akoya and South Sea Pearls they are also measured at their widest point.

Below you will see a great visual in comparison to the penny as to just how big Tahitian Pearls can be. Here you see a 9mm, a 13mm (the most common size), a 15mm and an 18mm.

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South Sea Pearls

Of saltwater pearls, South Sea Pearls are the largest in size. These incredible pieces range from 8mm all the way to our museum quality 27mm South Sea Pearl. South Sea Pearls can be smaller than 8mm in size, and if they are, they tend to be Keshi South Sea Pearls. The average size of a South Sea Pearl is between 10mm and 15mm.

Here is a great visual example of a 5mm South Sea Keshi Pearl, a 10mm, a 15mm and a 20mm South Sea Pearl. In comparison to the penny, it’s easy to see just how much bigger these beautiful pearls are.

unnamed (4)We hope that this gave a bit of perspective as to what common and more rare sizes of saltwater pearls are. If you are local to the Los Angeles area, we would love to invite you to tour our showroom. No appointment is ever needed and you are welcome at any time.

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Pearl Shapes and Colors

While many people are aware that pearls come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, most assume that a pearl is a pearl. Seven Seas Pearls at this time only works with saltwater pearls. When it comes to saltwater pearls, there are three types of pearls: Akoya Pearls, South Sea Pearls and Tahitian Pearls. Each of these types of pearls come from a different oyster and are farmed in different parts of the world. When people traditionally think of pearls, many people assume that pearls are all round. While many pearls are round, they also come in gorgeous shapes such as baroque, semi-round, button, teardrop, and oval. One shape is not necessarily better than another – it is strictly preference.

In this blog we are going to give you an overview of each type of pearl and would encourage you to read other parts of our blogs for more details about each type of pearl.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya Pearls are farmed in the waters off the coast of Japan. The temperature, tide and nutrients make this the perfect farming ground for these beauties. Akoya Pearls range in color from white, ivory, blue, silver – and have a multitude of overtones that pair with these base colors. Akoya Pearls are the smallest in size of all the saltwater pearl varieties; typically they range from 2mm in size all the way up to 10mm in size. The most common size of Akoya Pearl is around 7mm. Akoya pearls are considered the “classic” type of pearls. Many women have at least one strand of Akoya pearls in their collection. Akoya pearls can be dressed up – or down depending on the occasion. Because of their size, Akoya Pearls typically are less exaggerated in the more unusual shapes in comparison to South Sea and Tahitian Pearls. Akoya Pearls are typically found in round, semi-round and baroque shapes.

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Tahitian Pearls are farmed in the waters of the French Polynesia (think Tahiti). Tahitian Pearls are found in the black lipped oyster and grow best in the shallow nutrient rich beds called atolls. Tahitian Pearls have magnificent spectrum of colors ranging from black, gray, green, purple, peacock, chocolate and eggplant. For each one of these base colors are dozens of overtones that give Tahitian Pearls a very complex color palette. Tahitian Pearls typically range in size from 8mm (on the small side) and can be found as large as 20mm. Any Tahitian Pearl that is less than 9mm in size tends to be classified as small Tahitian Pearls whereas anything larger than 13mm is considered large and rarer. Typically, Tahitian Pearl necklaces range from 10mm to 13mm in size. Because of the incredible size and color range, Tahitian Pearls have incredible shapes ranging from round, semi-round, baroque, button and teardrop.

South Sea Pearls

Of the saltwater pearl variety South Sea Pearls are by far the largest. South Sea Pearls as their name would suggest are farmed in the South Sea (near Australia). South Sea Pearls come in a beautiful range of white, ivory, cream, champagne, gold, and blue. As with other types of saltwater pearls, South Sea Pearls also have stunning overtones that when paired with the base color creates absolutely stunning shades. South Sea Pearls range in size from 8mm (the smallest) all the way up to 25mm– which are incredibly rare. The average size of South Sea Pearls is 15mm. Because these pearls are so large in size, they come in gorgeous abstract and exaggerated baroque, teardrop, round and semi round shapes.

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