Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cultivation of Saltwater and Freshwater Pearls

Akoya pearls are cultivated salt water pearls and as the name suggests, are grown in Akoya oysters. The oysters live in the waters of Japan in shoals and in water depths of 1 – 5 metres. These calm seas have few large waves and mild temperatures of 15 to 23 degrees Celsius. Perfect oceanic climates attribute to the production of pearls with brilliant lustre and rich colours – the qualities the Akoya pearl has become renowned for. Akoya colours range from white, cream and pink to silver pink.

The Akoya oyster is the smallest pearl-producing oyster in the world. Akoya pearls are often available in the market in sizes of 3 – 10mm.

Freshwater pearls are cultivated in mussels rather than oysters, and most of the world’s supply are farmed in the lakes, rivers and ponds of China, often along the Yangtze river.

They are easier to grow than salt water pearls; one freshwater mussel can grow several pearls at a time, compared to salt water oysters that usually produce only one pearl. Mussels are often cultivated in farms in southern regions where pearl formation is faster, and then moved to northern farms (that have slower cultivation) to produce a compact nacre for better colour and lustre. They come in a range of colours including white, peach, pink and purple.

A Guide to Pearl Qualities and Grades

Buying pearls can be confusing – there are many myths and misconceptions. The days of the pearl fisherman diving off the side of a small boat to harvest pearls from the ocean floor is mostly gone. Wild pearls still exist but are difficult to find and are often protected from harvesting. Nowadays, most pearls are cultivated in freshwater lakes and rivers or seawater rafts.

Pearl Grades; There is no international standard for grading pearls so identical pearls may be graded differently by different suppliers. However, grading takes into account shape, lustre, surface quality, nacre thickness and matching on the strand. Grading a strand of pearls like a necklace is slightly different to grading individual pearls as not every pearl on the strand will necessarily meet all the criteria.

  • GRADE A, Shape near round, Lustre fair, Surface <75% clean, Nacre 0.25 to 0.35mm, Matching fair.
  • Grade AA,  Shape mostly round, Lustre good, Surface >75% clean,  Nacre 0.35 to 0.5mm, Matching very good.
  • Grade AAA, Shape round, Lustre high, Surface >90% clean, Nacre over 0.5mm, Matching very good.

Shape; Pearls develop into a variety of shapes. Round pearls are the rarest and the highest priced. The term ’round’ does not mean spherical like a marble but the pearls should not look obviously oval or flattened to the naked eye.  Non-round pearls can offer value for money. Wild pearls are rarely round so different shapes could be thought more natural.  There are a variety of shapes including round, near round, circle, oval, drop, baroque.

Lustre; This is the shine that gives pearls their beauty and is an important buying factor. Lustre refers to the pearls brilliance – the way it’s surface reflects light, and to the inner glow – how it refracts light from the layers of nacre within.

Surface Quality; Pearls are a natural product and small natural imperfections are quite acceptable – even desirable. Unacceptable faults include cracks or holes in the surface and thin or flaking nacre.

Matching; This compares all the pearls on the strand with each other to see how they match. They don’t have to be identical – that can seem artificial and real pearls will vary a little.

NEW! Gemstone and Silver Charm Pendants

charm nov5 charm nov6 charm nov1charm nov7

My newest project!  I had hours of fun making these sterling silver hand wrapped semi precious gemstone and Thai silver charm pendants.  They are sparkly and petite and are perfectly glamorous on their own or for layering with other necklaces when added to a sterling silver chain.  I hope you like them!


10mm white pot 2mm hole

These are lovely – LARGE DRILL HOLE 11mm freshwater potato pearls. Great for designs with thicker cord/leather (up to about 2mm). I only managed to get 9 strands from the factory this time! Trying to get more for the new year. Grab them while you can :)

November Facebook FREE Bead Giveaway Competition!

facebook giveaway SEPT 14
You could win this gorgeous bead bundle worth £10. It’s a mix of gemstones, freshwater and glass pearls, crystal, Czech glass, antique copper colour metal chain and findings and glass seed beads. PLUS a 42mm Agate pendant. All you have to do is:-

1. Like our facebook page (or the post if you have already like page previously)

2. Share the photo

3. Be entered automatically into our prizedraw


Winner will be drawn out of a hat Friday 28th November and notified same day. It couldn’t be easier!