Willyn Villarica Jewelry

All About Cultured Pearls

Pearls have always been cherished for their beauty in jewelry, captivating people with their elegance and charm. Among them, cultured pearls shine as a testament to the fusion of human artistry and nature’s grace. 

In this guide, we explore the world of cultured pearls, from their origins to cultivation methods, uncovering what makes them truly special. Whether you’re a seasoned jewelry lover or a curious novice, you’ll discover the enduring allure of cultured pearls.

Together, let’s find out why cultured pearls have captivated hearts for generations.

What Are Cultured Pearls? 

Cultured pearls are human-created gems that mimic the beauty of natural pearls. They’re formed when a nucleus or irritant is placed inside a mollusk, triggering it to coat the object with layers of nacre, the same material found in natural pearls. This process essentially accelerates pearl formation. 

Cultured pearls vary in shape, size, and color based on the type of mollusk and cultivation conditions. Despite them being man-made, cultured pearls are cherished for their radiant luster, making them a popular choice for jewelry lovers worldwide.

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4 Major Types of Cultured Pearls

There are four major types of cultured whole pearls, each offering unique allure and beauty.

  1. Akoya Pearls
Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are known for their classic round shape and high luster, and they are cultivated mainly in saltwater environments in Japan and China. They come in sizes ranging from 2mm to 10mm and colors like white, cream, and rose, formed by inserting a small bead nucleus into Akoya oysters over one to two years.

  1. South Sea Pearls
South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls, cultivated in warm South Pacific waters, boast sizes from 9mm to over 20mm and hues of white, silver, and gold. They’re produced by grafting larger bead nuclei into Pinctada maxima oysters, resulting in thick nacre layers and deep, luxurious luster.

  1. Tahitian Pearls
Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian pearls, also called black pearls, hail from French Polynesia, featuring dark, exotic colors like black, gray, and peacock with captivating overtones. These pearls form over two to three years by grafting small nuclei into Pinctada margaritifera oysters.

  1. Freshwater Pearls
Freshwater Pearl

Freshwater pearls, predominantly cultivated in China’s freshwater lakes and rivers, exhibit diverse shapes, sizes, and colors such as white, pink, lavender, and peach. They develop over one to six years by inserting mantle tissue into freshwater mussels..

Cultivation Process of Cultured Pearls

Here’s how cultured pearls are cultivated: 


Cultured pearl cultivation starts by inserting a nucleus or irritant into the mollusk, triggering it to coat the object with nacre to form a pearl. Skilled technicians carefully select and insert the nucleus into the mollusk’s tissue to determine the pearl’s size, shape, and quality.


Mollusks are cultivated in controlled environments such as pearl farms, providing optimal conditions for pearl formation. Over time, typically several months to years, the mollusks layer nacre around the nucleus, gradually forming a pearl. Regular maintenance of the mollusk beds is essential for successful pearl cultivation.


Cultured pearls are carefully harvested from the mollusks once they’ve reached the desired size and quality. They’re extracted from the shells by hand to avoid damage. After harvesting, pearls undergo cleaning, sorting, and grading processes to prepare them for market.

Are Cultured Pearls Considered Real Pearls?

Yes, cultured pearls are considered real pearls. While they are cultivated with human intervention, they possess the same organic composition as natural pearls. Cultured pearls form inside mollusks in response to an implanted nucleus or irritant, just like natural pearls. 

The main difference lies in the initiation process; cultured pearls are started intentionally by humans, while natural pearls form spontaneously. However, both types share the same captivating beauty and are highly valued in the jewelry industry.

Natural Pearls vs. Cultured Pearls

Natural and cultured pearls are both valued in jewelry, but they have various differences. 


Natural pearls form spontaneously inside mollusks, resulting from an irritant entering the mollusk’s shell and prompting it to coat the irritant with layers of nacre. This process creates pearls with unique shapes and characteristics, each one a product of its environment and chance. In contrast, cultured pearls are created through a process initiated by people, and it involves the insertion of a nucleus or irritant into the mollusk to stimulate pearl formation.


Both natural and cultured pearls are durable gems, capable of lasting long if cared properly. Their enduring quality makes them suitable for heirloom jewelry pieces, passed down through families as cherished treasures. With consistent quality and resilience, pearls offer longevity and elegance.


Natural pearls are generally more expensive than cultured pearls due to their rarity and unique formation process. For example, a 100″ freshwater cultured pearl necklace costs about $870, while a 49″ natural pearl necklace costs around $175,000.

Dive Deeper into Cultured Pearls with Willyn Villarica Jewelry

Today, we’ve discovered that cultured pearls are a harmonious blend of human skill and nature’s wonders.

If you’re seeking further knowledge on cultured pearls and their value, look no further than Willyn Villarica Jewelry. We offer precise gemstone identification services, ensuring your pieces are valued and authenticated with utmost precision.

Our expert jewelry appraiser, Ms. Willyn Villarica, leads our dedicated team and is recognized by both the Gemological Institute of America and the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to entrust your precious pearls to our expert team at Willyn Villarica Jewelry today. Take note that while we offer our services worldwide, clients are responsible for covering all travel expenses.

To learn more, book an appointment now or contact us via email at willynvillarica@willynvillaricajewelry.com. You can also message us through our Facebook (Willyn Villarica Jewelry) or Instagram (@willynvillarica_jewelry) accounts.

  • Willyn Villarica

    Willyn Villarica, a third-generation jeweler from the Philippines, brings a wealth of expertise to the world of gemology and jewelry appraisal. As a licensed Graduate Gemologist, accredited by the prestigious Gemological Institute of America, she is not only a master of her craft but also holds the distinction of being the first Filipino member of the National Associ...

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