Key Differences between Freshwater Pearls and Saltwater Pearls

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Key Differences between Freshwater Pearls and Saltwater Pearls

    No outfit can be complete without a stunning piece of accessory. Whether it is a colored bag, a pair of sunglasses, or a silk scarf, there are plenty of fashionable ornaments you can add to enhance your look. However, a piece of accessory that seems to be every stylish girl’s favorite addition is jewelry.

    There are all kinds of jewelry styles available, with pearls being the most preferred option, especially among the classy fashionistas. Pearls are an elegant piece of jewelry which can suit every woman’s skin tone and fashion taste as they can be paired with almost any type of outfit.

    While there are several types of pearls available on the market, freshwater pearls and saltwater pearls seem to be the most popular. To find out more about these pearl types, keep reading to learn the main differences between the two. 

    Photo by Moritz320 from Pixabay


    As their name suggests, Freshwater pearls grow in bodies of fresh water such as rivers, lakes and ponds in mollusks which can actually produce up to fifty pearls in one go. However, this can be quite a long process, from four to six years, because an irritant needs to find its way into the mollusk to start the pearl-making process.

    On the other hand, saltwater pearls are grown in oysters found in saline water such as oceans and seas. Here, the pearl-making process can take even longer than the one of freshwater pearls. But the rule is the longer the process, the better and bigger the pearl.

    Nacre quality

    Because saltwater pearls typically take longer to form than freshwater pearls, the nacre layers around them are quite thin and of better quality. Its coating ranges from 0.5 mm to 6 mm.

    On the other hand, freshwater pearls are almost completely made of nacre because the inserted nucleus is much smaller. This affects their durability in a good way because this pearl type is less prone to chipping or flaking due to their thicker nacre coating, whereas the thinner nacre layer formed in saltwater pearls can scar more easily. 

    Size and shape

    When it comes to size, saltwater pearls tend to be much larger than freshwater ones because they take much longer to form. They can also have a more perfectly round shape and range between four to ten millimeters in size. This allows pearl lovers to choose from different sizes they believe best fit their style and taste.

    As for freshwater pearls, less than 5% of them are perfect spheres. Instead, most of these pearls can be found in oval, button-shaped and baroque forms, ranging in different sizes as well. This is due to the type of nucleus that is implanted in the mollusks.

    Color and luster

    Probably the biggest difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls is in their luster quality. Saltwater pearls are known to have a superior luster and a glossy appearance to freshwater ones. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why pearl lovers prefer this type of pearl instead of others.

    When it comes to color, saltwater pearls are usually white and cream colors, whereas freshwater pearls come in a wide range of colors, including white, cream, pink and lilac. There are also black freshwater pearls which are a result of a color-treatment process and may have intense overtones of blue-green, gold and rose.

    Value and price

    Because both pearl types have different characteristics and features, they also differ in their price and value.

    For example, saltwater pearls are considered to be more valuable than their freshwater counterparts. This is because they are not as abundant as the other pearl types, making them more expensive.

    As for freshwater pearls, they are appreciated due to their modest price points. They are much more affordable and can offer the same beauty and luxury saltwater pearls do. That’s why pearl lovers often purchase this pearl type because of its affordability and versatility.

    Final thoughts

    Pearls are a piece of classic jewelry no woman should go without. You can find them in many types, with freshwater pearls and saltwater pearls being the two most commonly preferred choices among pearl lovers.

    However, to choose the type that best suits your style, you should first get acquainted with the main differences between the two pearl types. To learn more about them, refer to our post and read how freshwater pearls differ from saltwater pearls.

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