What Is Difference Between Saltwater Pearls & Freshwater Pearls

As the queen of jewels, the pearl is the only gem that no need to be cut and carved, but can be made naturally. It is one of the most popular kinds of jewelry at present.

⭐Pearl Aquaculture

Saltwater Pearls: Tropic,subtropics shallow sea waters. Golden south sea pearlblack south sea pearl and white south sea pearl are belongs to South sea pearl, akoya pearl belongs to Japanese pearl.
Freshwater Pearls: Freshwater pearls are grown in ponds, rivers, and lakes. The global freshwater market is overwhelmingly dominated by Chinese pearl farms, which account for nearly all freshwater pearls sold today. 
Tahitian pearl oyster VS freshwater pearl mussel

⭐Pearl Nacre

Saltwater pearls have a thinner nacre coating, ranging from 0.3mm to 0.7mm. Freshwater pearls are made almost entirely of nacre.
In the non-nucleated cultured freshwater pearls, the cross section is all the pearl layer. The core of a shell with a parallel strip structure can be seen in the cross section of a nucleated cultured saltwater pearl.
Nacre of Freshwater Pearl and Saltwater Pearl

⭐Pearl Colours

Saltwater Pearls has harming gold, mysterious black, cool gray, elegant white.
Freshwater Pearls: Freshwater pearls are more abundant because of the different trace elements in the growing environment. In addition to white, red-orange and purple are unique to freshwater pearls. There are also a series of fresh water pearls that are difficult to describe in words and have very rich chromatograms. The pearls are called "strange pearls" by pearl traders.
Pearl Color- Saltwater Pearl VS Freshwater Pearl

⭐Pearl Shapes

Seawater Pearl: Because the seawater pearl is nucleated and round core, they are more lustrous and have a rounder shape.
Freshwater Pearl: The most common and distinctive of them being either potato shapes, or off-round / oval shapes. The higher-up in quality these pearls get, the rounder the pearl shapes will be.
compare freshwater and saltwater size

⭐Pearl Size

Saltwater Pearl: south sea golden pearl can growth to 8-18mm, maximum up to 20mm. Japanese akoya pearls are generally 3-10mm in diameter.
Freshwater Pearl: 2-12mm, some of them can growth to 16mm, which is rare.
Pearl Size - Akoya pearl VS South Sea Pearl VS Freshwater Pearl

⭐Pearl Luster

Refers to the intensity of the reflections on the pearl's surface.
Saltwater Pearls have a more superficial, brilliant luster.
Freshwater Pearls are less lustrous and not as glossy.
This difference is caused by different types of mollusks being used to produce the pearls, as well as the thickness of the nacre.
It is generally believed that the luster of freshwater pearls will be slightly weaker than seawater pearls. In fact, I think there is a misunderstanding here. The output of freshwater pearls is much larger than that of seawater pearls, and the quality will be even more uneven, so it will bring some bad reviews to freshwater pearls.But in fact, Top quality freshwater pearls are not inferior to seawater pearls, so that there are some unscrupulous merchants in the market who sell good quality freshwater pearls as akoya seawater pearls.
Akoya pearls of the same quality and size are 4-5 times more expensive than freshwater pearls.
Pearl Luster- Freshwater Pearl VS Aurora Hanadama Akoya Pearl

⭐Pearl Blemishing

Akoya and Freshwater pearls both have their own distinct blemishes (also known as inclusions).
For Akoya pearls, you’ll mainly notice pin prick blemishes, lighter or darker areas of organic conchiolin build up visible just under the surface crystal, and small, white wrinkles in the surface nacre.
Freshwater Pearl Inclusions are mostly dull white "chalky spots" and subtle ridges on the pearl surfaces.
The highest level of grading of the Japanese Pearl Research Institute is "slightly blemishes", naturally grown jewels can't avoid inevitably with growth marks.Especially the Japanese Pearl surface is easy to have small blemish. Even expensive akoya pearl surface also have a few blemished. But the defects do not outweigh the merits.
More and more jewelry Company add pearls to their designs. Like Mikimoto,Tasaki.
The round shape and soft luster of the pearl can neutralize the lines of precious metals and faceted gemstones.
Blemishing - Freshwater VS Akoya Pearls

Pearl Density

Generally, the density of saltwater pearls is lower than freshwater pearls.

Pearl Growth cycle

Saltwater Pearl: 1-2 years
Freshwater Pearl: 5-8 years

Pearl Survival rate

The survival rate of saltwater pearls is 50%, only 40% pearls were formed in that range. The survival rate of freshwater pearls is much higher.

Pearl Production

A freshwater mussel can produce 20-30 pearls, while the saltwater oyster pearl can only produce 1-2 pearls.

Pearl Medicinal Efficacy

The medicinal value of seawater pearls is higher than that of freshwater pearls.
To sum up, we cannot judge the value of pearl jewelry only from a single factor, but from six factors including the size, color, luster, blemishing,narce and shape of the pearl.
lots of south sea Loose Pearls


  • Takaramonobr

    They’re AA quality.

  • Julia


    Thank you for the above info, very useful.
    In the picture for the ’pearl’s shape,’ you have two pearl strands compared, an akoya versus feshwater pearls. I wonder what is the quality of the freshwater pearl strand as they are not round but nearly round, is it AA, AA+ ?
    Kind regards,

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