Originally, pearls were grown inside oysters without the aid of man. By the 17th century, virtually all of the natural pearl oyster population was depleted, thus making pearls only accessible to the rich and royalty.
In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto successfully cultivated the world's first perfectly round "cultured pearl". Since then, cultivated pearls have become the norm.
Freshwater Cultured Pearls
Freshwater Cultured Pearls are farmed in freshwater lakes and grown in mussels. The freshwater pearls can vary from baroque, "irregular" and unique in shape to perfectly round, all within one shell. In addition to the beautiful colors that nature creates on her own, freshwater pearl cultivators have enhanced the spectrum of colored pearls by dying them - brown, pink, green, purple and black. This permanent dye adds another fun fashion element to an otherwise formal look.
Akoya Cultured Pearls
Saltwater pearls are more spherical and regular in shape than their freshwater counterparts. They are found in wide color variations of white, rose, and cream.
Tahitian Cultured Pearls
Tahitian pearls are also saltwater pearls. In order for a pearl to be called a "tahitian", it must be from the Pinctada Margaritifera Pearl Oyster. Tahitian pearls are known for their large size and their rainbow of colors ranging from pale gray to green, eggplant, bronze, and anthracite black color.
South Sea Cultured Pearls
South Sea Cultured Pearls are grown in slender oysters as big as dinner plates. As their name indicates, they are found in the South Seas and also around the coast of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Their color rangers from silver-white to spectacular golden.