Chinese Freshwater Pearls are recognized as the most varied and beautifully cultured freshwater pearls in the world.
With pristine freshwater lakes and abundant mollusk populations, Chinese harvesters continue to awe the pearl-loving community with gems in every size, shape and color and have been doing so for more than four thousand years!
In contrast to the Akoya and other saltwater pearls, the freshwater pearls are not nucleated with round mother-of-pearl beads, but by inserting a small piece of mantle tissue from one mollusk between the mantle tissue and mother-of-pearl shell lining of the host mollusk. After nucleation, the pearl producing oysters are returned to their freshwater environments and nurtured for up to 6 years before the pearls are harvested.
While saltwater oysters are often nucleated to produce a maximum of two pearls, the freshwater oyster can be nucleated to produce upwards of fifty pearls per oyster.
The freshwater pearl rarely rivals the luster and roundness of the Akoya saltwater pearl, they abound in a beautiful variety of shapes and natural colors including white, pink, lavender and peach. Because of the greater abundance of the freshwater pearls, they offer a beautiful and affordable alternative to more expensive Akoya pearls.
As the Chinese have continued to increase their skill in pearl culturing techniques, the quality of freshwater pearls has increased dramatically, so much so that the top percentages of the pearl farmer’s harvests have begun to rival the quality of many saltwater pearls. Additionally, because of the larger size of the freshwater pearl oyster, it is not uncommon to see freshwater pearls many times larger than their saltwater counterparts (as large as 16mm) at a fraction of the cost.