Pearl Education

What are the principal types of pearls?

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater Pearls come from freshwater mussels. Produced in Japan and United States, they are most exclusive to China. Chinese freshwater pearls are more affordable, long-lasting pearls that comes in a wider variety of colors than its more widely known cousin: the saltwater pearl. They have a very thick - nacre layer, which gives them an unparalleled luster and shine.  

You can harvest as many as 30 pearls out of one mussel. As the mussel gets older, it produces higher luster pearls. The process does not kill the animal. In fact, the pearl industry supports clean water and without it, the animals would die from the water pollution.

Saltwater Pearls

A saltwater pearl is a pearl produced by a saltwater mollusk in a saline environment. The three most common types of saltwater pearls are Akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls, and South Sea pearls. The shape of the saltwater pearl is naturally more round than freshwater cultured pearls.  When purchasing saltwater pearls, you should make sure the nacre is thick enough that it will not peel off. Typically the pearls would need to be more than 20 years old or quite expensive to ensure they are of good quality.

Why are the Saltwater pearls more expensive?

Saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater cultured pearls because the saltwater oyster only produces 1 pearl at a time. Freshwater mussels are able to produce up to 30 pearls at a time. This combined with the higher labor costs in Japan creates a more expensive pearl.

At Bourdage Pearls, we specialize in freshwater pearls. However we do have some saltwater pearls. Our saltwater pearls are Tahitian and Akoya. Tahitian pearls are the only naturally black pearls. 

How do you choose good quality?

Luster is the most important criterion for choosing pearls.

You should place pearls on a white background to compare the luster (shine).  You should be able to see your reflection in a good pearl.

Surface quality: The next important criterion is how blemish-free the pearls are. The less imperfections, the more expensive.  

Size:  In general, the larger the pearl the more expensive it is. Once pearls hit 8mm they will double in price.

Shape:  In general, the rounder the pearl the more expensive it will be. Round pearls are worth twice as much as oval shaped or "off round" pearls. 

What about the color?

What are the natural colors of pearls?

The natural colors for freshwater pearls are white, pink and peach. Natural colors of saltwater pearls are white, light gray, dark gray, and gold. 

How do the "unnatural colors" get their color?  The other colors are treated colors. Pearls will be treated with organic dyes or laser treated. With treated colors you must be careful not to leave them in direct sunlight for a long period of time or they may fade.  

What are the different pearl shapes?

The different shapes of pearl available at Bourdage Pearls are:

How to tell if a pearls is real?

You can tell pearls are real by rubbing them against one another. If there is friction the pearls are real. It means there is calcium, a key ingredient in pearls. If they just slip off each other, sorry, they are most likely imitation.

Another way to test if a pearl is real is by rubbing a pearl against your tooth. If there is a gritty feeling, then the pearl is real. The grit you feel is, of course, the calcium. 

How do I take care of my pearls?

  • To protect the surface of your pearls, put them on after your beauty routine. It is important to avoid contact with hairspray and perfume. 
  • To maintain luster, occasionally wipe with a soft, damp cloth. 
  • To avoid scratches, store separately in a soft cloth. 
  • To keep them from drying out, wear them often. Pearls love the oils from your skin!

How do I clean silver jewelry with pearls on it so I don't hurt the pearls? 

  1. Line shallow dish or bowl with Aluminum foil - shiny side up
  2. Add a little powdered Tide (NO BLEACH)
  3. Fill bowl with warm water (enough to cover item) 
  4. Leave 30 seconds
  5. Remove, rinse well pat dry with paper towel air dry thoroughly
  6. Store in a sealed plastic bag.

How to choose a necklace style?

A pearl necklace is a great way to show off freshwater pearls. But the type of necklace you wear is just as important as the kind of pearls you choose. Try on a whole  bunch of necklaces (because they feel so nice), and consider a variety of options. 

  • The collar is 12-15" inches long and 3 or more strands. This style looks great with a V-neck or a scooped neckline and can add an elegant look to a special occasion dress. 
  • The classic choker is 16 inches in length and should nestle around the base of the neck in single or multiple strands. The single strand version is a classic that can be worn with just about anything. We love The Classic choker and can't imagine why any woman would want to live without it!
  • The princess is 17-19 inches in length and is halfway between a choker and matinee in length. Ideal if you want to show off one of the new high neckline styles.
  • The matinee is 20-24 inches in length and should fall to the top of the cleavage. These versatile pearls can be worn during the day and in the evening. 
  • The opera is 28-34 inches in length and should reach to the bottom of your breastbone. It can be worn as a single strand or doubled with a clip and worn as a choker. 
  • The rope is any pearl necklace longer than opera length, although it is usually 45 inches or longer. Ropes often come with multiple clasps so that the necklace can be shortened or worn as a bracelet. 

Where are pearls appropriate?

You can wear pearls anywhere! Dress up a pair of jeans, create a demure look for work or glam it up in town. Of course, they are always the right choice for a formal event: weddings, banquets, or the opera. You can never make a fashion mistake with pearls.  


Bourdage Pearls - Pearl Education - Beauty of Tahiti 

Discover where Tahitian Pearls come from and get a general idea of Tahitian Pearl origins. Tahitian are the only natural black pearls and can also range in an array of greens, blues and peacock colors. The salt water oyster can grow extremely large and produce anywhere from 8 to 18 mm pearls.


Bourdage Pearls - Pearl Education - Dominique Petras Interview 

Dominique Petras talks about her passion for pearls. She tells us why she loves pearls so much. Like us, she says that pearls are 100% eco-friendly and the process is quasi totally natural. Discover more in this interesting interview...  


Bourdage Pearls - Pearl Education - Loic Wiart Interview 

Loic Wiart explain his business with Pearls. It is amazing to see all the different pearls he has and how complex the process can be. Even though it seems to be a pearl paradise. At Bourdage Pearls, we try to get the most beautiful pearls we can for you.