Tahitian Pearls Part II

While there is so much that we could write and teach you about Tahitian Pearls – if you read our last blog you probably have a decent basic knowledge of what they are, and what makes them so unique. In this second part, we are going to elaborate a bit more on what types of shapes they come in – as well as what to look for when making a purchase.

Many people assume that all saltwater pearls are round. A common thought is that if it has an unusual shape – then it is most likely a freshwater or natural pearl. This misconception could not be further from the truth. Freshwater pearls can also have a round like appearance, but typically are irregular in shape but also can look more oval. We have mentioned this before, but some jewelry stores will try to highlight how a pearl is “natural” – therefore more desirable and deserving of a higher price tag. Tuck this in the back of your mind, but if anyone ever tried to sell you a natural pearl – run. The harvesting of wild oysters is illegal and as a result 99.999% of all pearls on the market have been harvested in pearl farms. – So chances are if someone ever tries to sell you a “natural pearl” at best they are misleading you.

Because saltwater pearls are not cultivated in a lab and are a naturally evolving process, they can have gorgeous unique and beautiful shapes. Obviously, many people are familiar with round pearls. Since Tahitian Pearls are a larger pearl variety, they come in incredible shapes such as teardrop, oval, drop, baroque, semi round, and button. You can imagine with the incredible colors and overtones that Tahitians are famous for how these unique shapes would only accentuate their beauty.

unnamed (1)One of the things to keep in mind when selecting a pearl shape is that it is important to select the shape that appeals most to you. Generally speaking, true round pearls that are larger in size tend to be slightly more expensive, but many people find themselves preferring the unique more irregular shapes. The choice is solely yours – and you can’t make a wrong decision.

It can be very exciting to purchase your first real piece of Tahitian Pearl jewelry – but it can also be a bit overwhelming once you start to look at how pearls are graded. The good thing is that you don’t need to have full knowledge of how pearls are graded – just a basic one so that you can make an educated decision of what you are looking at. Pearls today are graded in a very similar fashion to diamonds – if you have ever heard of the 4 C’s of diamond grading then you know what we are talking about. Pearls have two types of grading systems. The most common is the AAA-A grading system – since that is the system we use, that is the one we will discuss here.

The main takeaway points for what to look for when purchasing a piece of pearl jewelry is to 1.) know that pearls all have different levels of quality and 2.) it is important to balance out each category of grading so that the piece as a whole is beautiful. You might be asking what we are referring to in our second point – well, we will tell you!

When it comes to pearls, there are three main aspects that need to be taken into account: The surface clarity, the luster and the nacre. Typically jewelers will categorize a pearl as whole, which can make it challenging to determine just what type of quality you are receiving. At Seven Seas Pearls, we grade each pearl on each individual characteristic. When you view pearls on our website you will see that each are graded individually on their clarity, luster and nacre. At Seven Seas Pearls, we have an additional rating category that describes the very few pearls that exceed the standard AAA-A grading system. You will see that these pearls are described as AAA Flawless for their clarity and AAA Gem for their luster.

Below is a detailed chart that will give a very simple and straightforward illustration as to what the main difference is between each of the gradings. As always, if you ever have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to let us know.

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Tahitian Pearls Part I

Pearls are all the same – right? Actually it surprises many people to discover that of the saltwater pearl variety, that there are three different types of pearls. If you have been staying up on our blog, then you are probably familiar with these three kinds of pearls. For those of you who are newer to the world of pearls – we will give you a crash course!

Pearls can mainly be broken into two very distinct and different categories. The first is fresh water pearls. These are pearls that are farmed in – yes, fresh water and include lakes, streams, rivers, ponds etc. The second category is saltwater pearls – these are pearls that are formed in – you guessed it; oceans. Of these two categories, saltwater pearls are considered to be more desirable, valuable and of higher quality.

At Seven Seas Pearls, we only work with saltwater pearls. Of the saltwater pearl variety, there are three types: South Sea Pearls, Akoya Pearls and Tahitian Pearls. In this blog we are going to discuss more in depth just what Tahitian Pearls are, where they are from, what makes them unique, why women love them and what to look for when making a Tahitian Pearl purchase.

As could be implied, Tahitian Pearls are called such because they are farmed in the gorgeous aqua and nutrient rich waters around the islands of Tahiti (or the French Polynesia). These stunning pearls are often referred to as “Black Pearls” and are a much sought after commodity for those who have traveled to Tahiti or have seen their incredible beauty.

Of the three types of pearls, the Tahitian Pearls are the second largest in average range of size. Typically they range from 9mm to 18mm in size. South Sea Pearls do tend to be consistently larger, and Akoya’s consistently smaller. What sets Tahitian Pearls apart from either Akoya’s or South Sea Pearls is the gorgeous metallic overtones they come in. As a general rule, Tahitian Pearls tend to have a gray or black base color. Even these tones by themselves are truly stunning. But what makes them magnificent is the overtone. For example, a Tahitian Pearl can have a gray base color – but a beautiful eggplant overtone. The combination of these two colors along with the metallic shimmer is simply stunning.

Here is a gorgeous example of some of the rich metallic colors that Tahitian Pearls are famous for:

unnamedEven though Tahitian Pearls are referred to as “Black Pearls” very few Tahitian Pearls are truly black. At Seven Seas Pearls, we are proud to showcase some of the blackest black pearls on the market today. When people come into our showroom looking for “black pearls” we enjoy showing them our black Tahitian Pearl strands – they are always amazed at how every time we pull out another strand that they become blacker – and blacker. To the point where even the original strand that our customer thought was black suddenly take on a more gray appearance.

Here is a great example of the variations of “black” Tahitian Pearls. It’s easy to see how even in a photograph that they have distinct differences in the depth and “blackness” of their color.

unnamed (2)We hope that you will join us for our next blog that will discuss the shapes of Tahitian Pearls as well as what to look for when making a purchase. If you are near the Los Angeles area, we would love for you to stop by our showroom where we can show you in person some of the amazing colors and shapes Tahitian Pearls come in. No matter how amazing the photography, it simply cannot do justice to these amazing gems of the sea.

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.

What are Keshi Pearls

Even for someone who is incredibly familiar with pearls may have taken a second look at the title of this blog… Keshi Pearls? In the past, we have reviewed how there are only three types of saltwater pearls – so to throw out the term Keshi Pearl can be very confusing. In this blog we will explore what Keshi Pearls are and give you a pretty solid understanding of what sets them apart. – Hang in there, we will clear things up shortly!

When it comes to saltwater pearls, there are three different types: South Sea Pearls, Tahitian Pearls, and Akoya Pearls. While each of these pearls are entirely unique on their own, there is a unifying term that can be used to describe them: Keshi. Each of these subtypes of saltwater pearls can and will have a “Keshi” variety. The term Keshi refers more to the actual process of how the pearl is developed – which is why there are Akoya Keshi Pearls, Tahitian Keshi Pearls and South Sea Keshi Pearls.

The process of culturing a pearl is a very interesting one. Pearl farms in the regions of Japan, Tahiti and Australia cultivate their pearls by a process known as nucleation. A small bead known as a nucleus is inserted into the host oyster with a piece of donor mantle tissue. The mantle tissue is what is responsible for the overall color and tone of the developing pearl. At the center of every pearl (no matter if it is South Sea, Tahitian or an Akoya Pearl) is the nucleus. The nucleus is a small bead that is made from Mother of Pearl. This small bead is inserted into the host oyster and as a result, layers of nacre develop around the nucleus. As the pearl matures, more and more layers of nacre develop around the nucleus. On occasion, the oyster will reject the nucleus. Even though the nucleus has been rejected, layers of nacre will still continue to develop – thus resulting in a Keshi Pearl. As a result of this process, there are Tahitian Keshi Pearls, Akoya Keshi Pearls and South Sea Keshi Pearls. The term “Keshi” is not necessarily a type of pearl, but describes more of the process of it’s development.

Keshi Pearls are thought to be very desirable because they are 100% nacre and do not have a nucleus. Keshi Pearls are becoming more and more rare because of the efforts pearl farmers are taking to make sure that the nucleation process is effective. After the oysters have been properly nucleated, pearl farmers scan each oyster with an x-ray to make sure that a pearl is properly developing. If a pearl is not forming, a new nucleus is inserted and the process is started over again.  As a result, Keshi Pearls are a bit of a rarity. Because Keshi Pearls do not have a nucleus, they tend to be smaller in size than most of their counterparts. A Keshi Pearl is not a natural pearl; a Keshi Pearl will only develop as a result of a failed insertion of a nucleus.

Here is a beautiful visual example of the beauty that Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea Pearls
Keshi Pearls have:

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At Seven Seas Pearls, we have one of the largest collections of Keshi Pearls – anywhere. Here is just a small idea as to the beautiful colors, sizes and shapes they come in. We invite you to tour our extensive collection of Keshi Pearls on our website. If you are local to the Los Angeles area, we would love for you to come in and explore our collection of Keshi Pearls in person.

Shapes of Akoya Pearls

If you read our last blog, then you have an awareness and working knowledge of what Akoya Pearls are and where they come from. In this blog we are going to explore a bit more in-depth the gorgeous shapes that Akoya Pearls come in.

Many people assume that only high quality pearls are perfectly round. This thought process could not be further from the truth. Another common misconception is that pearls that are irregular in shape are “natural pearls”. Pearls are a naturally formed gem, because the process is not entirely controlled by human hands, gorgeous shapes evolve. Pearls that are not perfectly round are not considered natural pearls. In fact, if anyone tries to sell you a “natural pearl” it would serve you well to run. In today’s pearl market, 99.9% of all pearls are cultured pearls. Meaning that they are farmed and harvested. There are many laws forbidding the hunting of wild oysters for their pearls. As a result, they are nearly impossible to find, and if you did “find one” a red flag should be waving. All pearls, like their gorgeous rainbow of colors come in a variety of shapes. The most well-known are pearls are perfectly round, then near round, baroque, tear-drop and button. When selecting a shape of pearl, there is no right or wrong shape to choose. It is based entirely upon preference and personal style.

Here is a great example of how shapes for Akoya Pearls can vary slightly. While to the layman’s eye, both of these pearls could easily be considered to be round. But in order for a pearl to be classified as round, it must be perfectly round. If you look closely, the pearl on the right is not perfectly round. This shape is called “near round”.

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Because Akoya Pearls are smaller in overall size than South Sea or Tahitian Pearls, the shapes they come in are not nearly as exaggerated. Teardrop and button shaped pearls are common in the larger sizes of pearls (South Sea and Tahitians). Because of its smaller shape, Akoya Pearls are not typically given the classification of button or teardrop shape. For example, South Sea Pearls can grow as large as 27mm (granted this would be quite rare). But because of its size, a baroque South Sea Pearl would be more irregular in shape than a baroque Akoya Pearl.

Here is a great example of what would be considered a baroque Akoya Pearl and a baroque South Sea Pearl. You can see how the difference in size impacts the irregular shape of these beautiful pearls.

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If you are considering an Akoya Pearl Necklace, we invite you to explore our website which has hundreds of gorgeous Akoya Pearl Strands. Each necklace has been individually photographed and graded. The piece that you are viewing is the actual piece that you will receive. If you live in the Los Angeles area, we would love to have you visit our showroom. We are open to the public and you never need an appointment. Our passion is pearls, and we look forward to sharing this passion with you.

Seven Seas Pearls

Aside

Welcome to the Seven Seas Pearls blog! My name is Julie and I will be the primary author of this blog. Personally, I am thrilled to be the writer for this blog because I have a deep love of pearls. To me, no piece of jewelry can compare with the classic elegance that pearls convey.

One of the things that we pride ourselves on at Seven Seas Pearls is that we believe it is crucial that our clients not only get a tremendous value for their money, but that they are Size0003aalso educated on what they are buying. For this reason, we have decided to start this blog in hopes of educating all lovers of pearls on how to identify high grade pearls from others, about the differences in shapes, colors, sizes – and most importantly how all this impacts the ultimate value of the pearl. But before we get into the nitty gritty details of pearls, it is probably more appropriate to explain a little bit more about who we are and the journey that has led us to where we are today.

Seven Seas Pearls is a third generation pearl jewelry company that has been specializing in various types of high quality pearls since 1946. While our main showroom is in Los trade-pearl-farmingAngeles, California, we have five locations around the world to include: Japan, Tahiti, Canada and Germany. One of the things that set us apart from other pearl jewelry stores is that not only are we a direct importer of the pearls that we showcase, but we directly export the pearls from  various sources as well. Our office in Japan is located in Ise, which is considered to be the very heart of the pearl growing area of Japan. As a result, we interact directly with the pearl farmers on a daily basis. Our office in Tahiti as one might guess, exports the beautiful Tahitian pearls that everyone is so familiar with.

For us, the process of buying and pearls is one that has transcended through the generations with many of the same pearl farmers, their children and their grandchildren. In order to insure quality control, we personally sort, grade and drill each pearl. Because of this, we are able to offer our clients great flexibility in designing the perfect piece of pearl jewelry.

We are proud to offer everything from South Sea pearls, to Tahitian black pearls and Japanese Akoya pearls. Just like our wide range of colors, we have an incredibly selection of pearl sizes – ranging from 27.00mm to under 1mm. We invite you to check back for updated blogs, tour our website and stop in and meet us personally.