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Gemstone Knowledge - Must-Knows in the World of Fine Jewelry

Freshwater pearls? Saltwater pearls?

What sets baroque pearls apart? (Part Two)

Olivia - September 9, 2019


Saltwater pearls are rare and take longer to cultivate, hence, they have higher unit prices.

A single pearl oyster can produce only 1-2 pearls at a time, while freshwater pearl mussels typically produce up to 30-40 pearls.

The global production of Akoya pearls (saltwater pearl oysters)
accounts for only 5% of freshwater pearls.


Saltwater pearls are cultured with a nucleus

typically consisting of pearl material enveloping a nucleus made of shell or similar material.

They are usually round and have a delicate luster.

The internal nucleus determines the shape, with round shapes being predominant in cultured saltwater pearls. The pearl material is relatively thin, ranging from 0.3 to 0.8 mm, yet it possesses a full luster and magnificent surface shine. Among them, pearls cultured from the Japanese pearl oyster, Akoya, are widely known for their slight pink iridescence. The pink iridescence emitted by these pearls is dreamy and enchanting, earning them the title of "Princess of Pearls."

OYJ's selected styles of saltwater pearls are designed with simplicity in mind. With nearly perfect pearls, they require no additional embellishment; simplicity is enough to showcase their innate beauty.

Thin Pearl Quality Requires Careful Maintenance

Saltwater pearls exhibit delicate surface shine and colorful iridescence, but it's crucial to remind everyone: saltwater pearls contain a nucleus and have thin pearl quality, requiring extra caution in wearing and maintenance. Unlike nucleus-free freshwater pearls (refer to "Differences Between Freshwater Pearls, Saltwater Pearls, and Baroque Pearls"), saltwater pearls are more delicate. Prolonged friction or accidental scratching can easily damage the pearl's quality.

Excessive dryness or sunlight exposure are unfavorable storage conditions

An excessively dry environment or prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light may damage the pearl's surface, resulting in the regrettable appearance of discoloration or surface deterioration.

Saltwater Pearls Display a Variety of Colors, Rich and Vibrant

The colors of saltwater pearls vary significantly depending on their origin:

  • Japanese and Chinese Saltwater Pearls: Primarily white with pinkish hues
  • South Sea Pearls: Elegant white pearls and luxurious golden pearls
  • Tahitian Pearls: Known for their mysterious black color with undertones of green, blue, and purple, highly esteemed for their unique hues.

Typically, saltwater pearls are relatively small, mostly measuring below 8mm. In Japan, due to advanced cultivation techniques, saltwater pearls of 8-9mm can be found. South Sea pearls and Tahitian pearls generally exceed 9mm, with sizes reaching above 14mm considered exceptionally precious and commanding high prices.

The Non-Conformist: Mabe Pearls

Mabe pearls, also known as Mabe pearl oysters, are cultivated within the same pearl oysters as saltwater pearls. However, they are the rebellious outliers among all cultured pearls as they are not considered "natural pearls." In the cultivation process, the nucleus of the pearl is fixed onto the shell of the oyster, resulting in only one side being covered with nacre. After harvesting, they need to be manually cut into pearls based on their shape. Unlike other cultured pearls that are harvested as complete pearls, this fundamental difference disqualifies them from being classified as natural pearls.

Mabe Pearls: Economical and Appealing

Despite not receiving certification as natural pearls, Mabe pearls remain a favorite in the market. They can be cultivated into various shapes, some exceeding 20mm in diameter, with delicate iridescent hues. Moreover, their price is less than one-tenth of similarly sized saltwater pearls. For those seeking large pearls without exceeding their budget, Mabe pearls present an excellent option.



Baroque Pearls

The term "Baroque" originated from a 17th-century artistic style characterized by elaborate and exaggerated theatrical effects. Baroque pearls are a term of endearment for irregularly shaped pearls that occur accidentally during the artificial cultivation process.

In the early stages of pearl cultivation, the focus was primarily on cultivating round pearls. However, the accidental emergence of irregularly shaped pearls, though not the primary product, captivated many due to their unique shapes. This unexpected beauty sparked creativity among jewelry designers and gradually became an important target for collectors who appreciate distinctive designs. Therefore, in definition, Baroque pearls are not necessarily limited to freshwater or saltwater pearls; broadly speaking, any pearl that deviates from the perfect spherical shape can be considered a Baroque pearl.

Unique Pearls

Baroque pearls, also known as irregular pearls, owe their uniqueness to their organic shapes. Unlike round pearls that grow according to a predetermined design, Baroque pearls do not follow a uniform or smooth form. It is precisely this irregularity that makes each Baroque pearl one-of-a-kind. Each irregular pearl cannot be replicated and belongs exclusively to its wearer.

Baroque pearls refer to pearls with non-round shapes. Collectors who appreciate Baroque pearls typically value their unique shapes and the distinctive combinations of colors and forms they offer.

Since the beginning of my exposure to jewelry design, I have had a particular fondness for collecting Baroque pearls.

Creating each piece of jewelry featuring Baroque pearls requires striking a balance between design vocabulary and their unique shapes. There's a portion that can be controlled and another part that cannot. It involves finding a sense of beauty within disorder and order, a process that embodies the conflict between rationality and emotion. Perhaps those friends who experience this conflict between rationality and emotion are the ones who can best understand the beauty of Baroque pearls.

Since the launch of the Oli Collection, there's a new favorite: Keshi Baroque pearls.

Keshi pearls are cultivated without a nucleus in saltwater. They come in shapes resembling petals or irregular grains, boasting the exquisite luster of saltwater pearls combined with the lively shapes of nucleus-free freshwater pearls. When paired with various natural gemstones, they beautifully complement the lively and soft lines of the Oli Collection.

Keshi pearls are delicate and often small, evoking a sense of delicacy. Their repeated arrangement emphasizes layers and volume, making them particularly suitable for showcasing the soft lines of water ripples in the Oli series.

Musée Edition heavily features Keshi pearls, whose petal-like shapes perfectly embody the opulent style of the Renaissance. With their natural delicacy and colorful iridescence, Keshi pearls exude an elegant and romantic charm, regardless of the size of the jewelry, adding a touch of sophistication to any ensemble.

OYJ 嚴選巴洛克珍珠商品


"Have you all understood the characteristics of saltwater pearls and baroque pearls?
Here's a table to help organize everything for you!"



Editor | Olivia

珠寶設計師 / 品牌創辦人 / 會計師 / 旅遊狂熱者,有著不安於室的反骨靈魂,把自小的興趣變成終身職業,從會計師轉換跑道變成珠寶設計師,成立自己的同名品牌,用輕珠寶打動女性的心,現在在全球已經有超過 20 個國際通路可以看到 OLIVIA YAO JEWELLERY,也讓每位有夢想的女性看到更多生活方式的可能。