What are FreshWater Pearls?
Freshwater pearls form in various species of freshwater mussels, family Unionidae, which live in lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of fresh water. These freshwater pearl mussels occur not only in hotter climates, but also in colder more temperate areas such as Scotland.
What are South Sea Pearls?
South Sea pearls (also called White South Sea pearls) are saltwater pearls cultivated using the Pinctada maxima oyster (also called the silver lip or gold lip oyster), found in the South Seas (an area centered around Northern Australia and South-East Asia including Myanmar and Indonesia). They produce 10-20 mm pearls of silver or gold color. For centuries, pearl divers harvested these exotic shells for their valuable Mother of Pearl shell to make buttons. Occasionally pearls were found inside, and these pearls were regarded as a rare and valuable bonus.
What are Tahitian Pearls?
Tahitian Black Pearls (also called South Sea Black pearls) are grown in the waters of French Polynesia. They are saltwater pearls from the Pinctada margaritifera or black-lipped oyster and can range from gray to black with red, green or blue overtones. This oyster also is found in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, New Caledonia, the Philippines, Panama, and the Gulf of Mexico. An adult Pinctada oyster can reach a diameter of 30 centimeters, with weight exceeding 5 kilograms (over 10 pounds). Rare specimens as large as 9 kilograms (over 19 pounds), in fact, have been harvested. It takes about two years before the oyster ready for harvesting. Only about 30 percent of the oysters cultured produce a pearl
What is A Grade?
This is the lowest jewelry-grade pearl, with a lower luster and/or more than 25% of the surface showing defects. In many cases, if the pearl is being mounted into a piece of jewelry, it can be mounted so that the defects are hidden -- thus providing a lovely jewelry piece at a lower price.
What is the AAA-A grading system
This system grades pearls on a scale from AAA to A, with AAA being the highest grade. This grading scale is common to freshwater and akoya pearls only, but is accepted by many with South Sea and Tahitian pearls as well: