What are Freshwater Cultured Pearls
Freshwater cultured pearls are pearls that are created in mussels living in freshwater environments. While they share many characteristics with saltwater cultured pearls, freshwater cultured pearls generally differ in their shape and color, tending to be more oval or oblong than round and come in a wide variety of colors.
Freshwater cultured pearls are formed by pearl farmers inserting irritants, often pieces of tissue, into a mussel. The mussel then forms a nacre around the irritants, creating pearls. (Natural pearls are formed when an irritant naturally comes into the mussel) In freshwater cultured pearls, one mussels can create dozens of pearls at a time.
Freshwater cultured pearls are primarily grown in lakes and riverbeds in China, but are being grown in many places throughout the world. With so many pearl farmers and each mussel producing dozens of pearls, freshwater cultured pearls are the most common type of pearl. Up to 40 freshwater cultured pearls can be produced at once in a single mussel.
Freshwater Pearl Characteristics
The difference between freshwater cultured pearls and saltwater cultured pearls is more than just the type of water and specific organisms in which they’re grown. Both types – including freshwater – are real pearls. But their environments lead to differences between the two.
Cultured freshwater pearls come in unique shapes and a wide range of colors. They can be baroque shaped, button, stick, oval, or even very close to round. When it comes to colors, freshwater cultured pearls can come in the traditional white but are also often seen in a rainbow of pastel colors such as pink, peach, lavender, grey, yellow, and cream.
Freshwater cultured pearls also have a special optical effect called orient, which causes colors to shimmer beneath the pearl’s surface. This is commonly found in freshwater culutred pearls thanks to their composition of pure nacre.
Freshwater cultured pearl value
Because of their wide variety of shapes and colors, freshwater cultured pearls have often been used in designer jewelry. How much pearls are worth depends on many factors, but in general the shape, size, color, quality, and rarity all carry some weight.
For many years it has been no question which is more expensive, freshwater or saltwater cultured pearls. Saltwater cultued pearls were more valued because of their larger size and more uniform look. But advances in farming techniques have allowed pearl farmers to create freshwater cultured pearls that are more round and more closely resemble saltwater cultured pearls.
Are freshwater cultured pearls worth anything? Yes! Freshwater cultured pearls offer the widest range of options for wearers when it comes to size, shape, and color. Beautiful pieces of designer jewelry utilize freshwater cultured pearls. And freshwater cultured pearls now can have a similar look to saltwater cultured pearls at a much more affordable price.
Freshwater cultured pearl care
The care of freshwater cultured pearls is the same with all pearls – they are intended to be worn but also need special care. Leaving pearls in a box or pouch can leave the pearls dehydrated so it is important to wear them and enjoy them.
The guidance provided by Borsheims’ jewelry experts says pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off, avoiding any contact with cosmetics, perfume, or hairspray. After wearing pearls, they should be wiped with a soft cloth. If they become soiled, pearls can be wiped off with very mild soapy water but a pearl strand should not be submerged in water because it could weaken the silk threads.
Never place pearls in jewelry cleaners or ultrasonic machines.
Freshwater Cultured Pearl Jewelry
Freshwater cultured pearl jewelry offers wearers a variety of options because of the wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors of pearls. Many freshwater cultured pearls are treated to create certain colors or to achieve a more evenly-colored strand. Pearls are the birthstone for the month of June, but jewelry fans born in any month appreciate the classic look of pearls ranging from rings to pendants, strands to bracelets, and earrings to brooches.