Since the 1930's, Akoya pearls are the world's best-known pearl. Akoya pearls are often very round and spherical in shape and are complemented by very high luster. Produced by a small oyster called the Pinctada Fucata off the seas of Japan and China, they are commonly found in sizes ranging from 2mm to 10mm in size. Akoya pearls are a long-time favorite in the pearl industry and are commonly worn by brides on their wedding day.
Tahitian pearls, also known as black South Sea pearls or simply black pearls, are cherished for their incredibly exotic colors and mirror-like luster. Whereas other pearl types are typically limited in color, Tahitian pearls consist of hundreds of overtones with incredibly exotic colors such as peacock green, silver green, blue, and eggplant, just to name a few. These pearls are produced by the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster, which is found exclusively in Tahiti and several other French Polynesian islands.
White & Golden South Sea pearls are cherished for their classic color as well as their exceptional sizes. These rare gems are produced by the Pinctada Maxima oyster, found in very deep and offshore waters. White South Sea pearls are commonly found off the shores of Australia and are typically creamy white in color with a silver overtone. High quality golden South Sea pearls are usually found in the Philippines and include a wide variation of shades of light to dark golden colors.
The mabe pearl gets its name from the type of mollusk in which it is grown, the Pteria penguin, which is called "mabe-gai" in Japanese. A mabe pearl is actually a cultured blister pearl that is grown differently than other cultured pearls. Instead of being grown inside the body of a mollusk creature, a mabe pearl is grown against the inside of the shell. This allows the mabe pearl to develop a dome shape with a flat back, and is why mabe pearls are sometimes referred to as "half pearls". With their big, showy dome, mabe pearls offer all the glamour of South Sea pearls at a much more affordable price. Cultivated with a flat back, mabe pearls are a favorite for fine earrings, rings, and pendants.
Pretty and pastel-hued, a conch pearl is a calcareous concretion produced by the Queen conch (pronounced “conk”) mollusk, which is a large, edible sea snail. Most often pink in color and normally oval-shaped, the finest examples display a wave-like “flame” structure on their surface and have a creamy, porcelain-like appearance and unique shimmer.
Unlike pearls harvested from oysters, conch pearls – like other naturally occurring pearls, including the Melo and Giant Clam – are non-nacreous, which means they are not made of nacre, the substance that gives traditional pearls their iridescent luster. Therefore, they are not technically a pearl and are not considered to be “true pearls”, although they are still referred to as such.
The majority of pearls today are cultivated by inserting an irritant into the mollusk and managing its progress, but a conch pearl is a completely natural phenomenon, with no intervention from man.
Harvested by teams of fishermen, a single, elusive conch pearl is found in every 10-15,000 shells, although less than 10% of these are gem quality. This, together with its unusual color, makes the conch pearl extremely desirable.