• The State of Today's Cultured Pearls

    All perfectly spherical. All luminous. All highly lustrous.

    Two are Hanadama-grade akoya cultured pearl strands, and one is a solid-nacre freshwater cultured pearl strand. Surprised? The time has come for the best of freshwater cultured pearls to be recognized as reaching the same level as saltwater cultured pearls. Prices are rising in response to the vast improvement in freshwater quality, and freshwater pearls have something that saltwater pearls don?t ? endless variety.

    Kevin Canning snapped this photo of Grace ?Edison? beaded cultured pearls at the 2014 March Hong Kong show. Bright, metallic colors are already becoming common in baroque strands, but Grace is pushing the boundaries of pearl characteristics. These deep colors are not induced or caused by dye. Even so, gemological laboratories would love to examine that deep purple ?not-for-sale? dream pearl.

    Mollusk hybridization is the key to unlocking the closely-held secrets of today?s top freshwater pearl cultivation in China. You can see that this mussel shell displays bright colors, but by virtue of its unusual shape, it also has a very deep pocket for culturing out-sized pearls. Larger is better when it equals a corresponding return for the producer.

    And if you haven?t guessed, the outside strand of cultured pearls is the freshwater strand.

    Blaire Beavers