Susan Miller

·Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry Design, Pratt Institute, 2012

·Bachelor of Arts in Gemology, University of California, Los Angeles, May 2005

·Editor-in-Chief, White Victoria (2018 - present)

·Write and research feature articles and profiles for print and online publication

·Contributing Writer, Modern Jeweler and Ornament

·Write and publish freelance articles for IGS and WSJ Magazine

·Jewelry Appraiser (2012 - 2020)

Freshwater pearls, highly desired for beauty, come in various colours and shapes.

They have a rich history and remain popular due to their affordability and enchanting appeal in contemporary jewellery. 

In this blog, we'll learn essential details to remember before buying freshwater pearls.

Renowned for their exquisite beauty and unique allure, freshwater pearls have captivated jewellery enthusiasts for centuries.

guide to buy freshwater pearls

We'll journey through their rich history, tracing their origins from ancient times to the present. 

Additionally, we'll explore why freshwater pearls remain highly appealing in today's market, thanks to their wide range of colours, shapes, and affordable prices.

Brace yourself to uncover the enchanting world of these natural treasures!

Understanding freshwater pearls

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls are organic gems formed by molluscs in freshwater environments.

They are produced in both natural and cultured forms.

Natural freshwater pearls occur spontaneously, while cultured freshwater pearls are cultivated with human intervention.

When it comes to colours, shapes, and sizes, freshwater pearls offer a diverse range.

Standard colours include white, cream, pink, lavender, and metallic hues.

Shapes vary from classic round to baroque, button, oval, and rice-shaped pearls. Sizes can range from as small as 2mm to larger pearls exceeding 15mm in diameter.

Cultured freshwater pearls have become popular due to their affordability compared to their saltwater counterparts.

They possess a soft lustre and are often used in necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other jewellery.

Understanding the characteristics and differences between natural and cultured freshwater pearls and the various colours, shapes, and sizes available allows you to make an informed choice when selecting these beautiful gems for your jewellery collection.

Factors to consider when buying freshwater pearls

guide to buy freshwater pearls

When purchasing freshwater pearls, it's essential to consider several factors to ensure you choose high-quality gems that meet your preferences. Here are vital aspects to keep in mind:

Quality Grading Systems for Freshwater Pearls

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls are graded based on lustre, surface quality, shape, size, and colour.

Familiarise yourself with grading systems such as AAA, AA+, AA, and A to understand the overall quality of the pearls you're considering.

Luster and Shine: Evaluating Pearl Quality

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Luster refers to the reflective quality and shine of a pearl's surface.

Look for pearls with a radiant and mirror-like lustre, indicating superior quality.

A pearl with a dull or chalky appearance may be of lower quality.

Shape and Size Considerations

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls come in various shapes: round, oval, button, baroque, and rice-shaped.

Consider your preference and the pearls' intended use when selecting a shape.

Additionally, consider the size of the pearls, as they can range from tiny seed pearls to larger, statement-making gems.

Colour Variations and Personal Preferences

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls offer a wide range of natural colours, including white, cream, pink, lavender, and more.

Consider your skin tone, wardrobe, and personal style when choosing a colour that complements your overall aesthetic.

Surface Quality and Flaws

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Inspect the surface of the pearls for any blemishes, spots, or irregularities. Pearls with a clean, smooth surface are generally of higher quality.

Remember that minor surface flaws are common and do not necessarily detract from the pearls' beauty.

Different types of freshwater pearl jewellery

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls are versatile gems that can be beautifully incorporated into various types of jewellery.

Here are some popular types of freshwater pearl jewellery:

Necklaces and Pendants

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearl necklaces are classic and elegant, ranging from simple strands to elaborate designs.

Pendants with a single pearl or clusters of pearls add a touch of sophistication.


guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearl earrings come in various styles, including studs, dangles, and hoops.

They can be paired with formal attire or worn as everyday accessories, adding grace and charm to any outfit.

Bracelets and Bangles

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearl bracelets and bangles are delicate and stylish.

They can feature a single strand of pearls or incorporate multiple strands, creating a luxurious and eye-catching accessory.

Rings and Finger Jewelry

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls are also used to create stunning rings, either as solitary pearls or in combination with other gemstones.

They lend a unique and feminine touch to finger jewellery, suitable for formal occasions and everyday wear.

Anklets and Body Jewelry

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearl anklets are famous for their delicate and bohemian charm.

They add a subtle elegance to the ankle, perfect for beach weddings or summer ensembles.

Additionally, freshwater pearls can be used creatively in body jewellery, such as belly button rings or nose studs, for a unique and captivating look.

Other Creative Uses of Freshwater Pearls

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearls can be incorporated into brooches, hair accessories like clips and tiaras, and clothing, such as embroidered onto gowns or adorning handbags.

They offer endless possibilities for creative expression and unique personal style.

Where to buy freshwater pearls

guide to buy freshwater pearls

When it comes to purchasing freshwater pearls, there are several options available.

Here are some familiar places where you can buy freshwater pearls:

1. Brick-and-Mortar Jewelry Stores:

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Traditional jewellery stores offer a hands-on experience, allowing you to see and feel the pearls before purchasing.

They often have a wide selection and knowledgeable staff to assist you.

2. Online Pearl Retailers:

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Online shopping provides convenience and access to many freshwater pearl options.

Look for reputable online pearl retailers that provide detailed product descriptions, high-resolution images, and customer reviews for a reliable buying experience.

3. Specialty Pearl Boutiques:

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Speciality pearl boutiques focus on pearls, offering a curated collection of freshwater pearls.

These boutiques may have unique and rare pearl varieties and provide expert advice.

4. Pearl Farms and Auctions:

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Visiting pearl farms or auctions can be an exciting option for those interested in a more direct approach.

Here, you can witness the pearl cultivation process or bid for unique and valuable pearls.

Evaluating the Credibility of pearl seller

guide to buy freshwater pearls

When evaluating the credibility of pearl sellers, several factors come into play to ensure a trustworthy and reliable purchase.

Look for sellers who provide proper documentation and certification for their pearls, such as GIA or AGS certificates.

This certification ensures that the pearls are genuine and of high quality.

Check customer reviews and ratings on reputable platforms and websites to gauge the seller's reputation and satisfaction.

Positive feedback and high ratings indicate a reliable seller.

A trustworthy pearl seller should have transparent and customer-friendly return policies.

Look for sellers who offer generous return windows and guarantees of authenticity and quality.

Consider purchasing from well-established and reputable brands or designers known for their expertise in pearls.

These sellers have a reputation to uphold and are more likely to provide genuine, high-quality pearls.

Price, range, and budgeting

guide to buy freshwater pearls

The price range of freshwater pearls can vary depending on several factors.

These include pearl size, shape, lustre, surface quality, colour, and whether they are natural or cultured.

Setting a realistic budget based on your preferences and requirements is essential. 

Consider the cost implications of different types of jewellery, such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.

Factors like the type of metal used, additional gemstones, and craftsmanship can also affect the overall cost. 

By comprehending the factors that affect prices and establishing a budget, you can make well-informed choices while buying freshwater pearl jewellery.

Caring for freshwater pearls

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Proper care is crucial to ensure the longevity and beauty of your freshwater pearls.

To clean freshwater pearl jewellery, gently wipe them with a soft cloth. Avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals, perfumes, or cosmetics. 

Storing freshwater pearl jewellery separately from other pieces is recommended to prevent scratching, preferably in a soft pouch or a jewellery box with a protective lining.

Regularly inspect the pearls for any signs of damage or loose threads. Consider restringing them every few years to maintain their strength.

With these care practices, your freshwater pearls will retain their natural lustre and charm for years.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How can I tell if a freshwater pearl is real?

guide to buy freshwater pearls

To determine if a freshwater pearl is genuine, look for surface imperfections, as natural pearls rarely have a flawless surface.

Additionally, examine its lustre, weight, and temperature, as genuine pearls exhibit unique characteristics.

Are freshwater pearls more affordable than saltwater pearls?

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Yes! Freshwater pearls are more affordable, making them attractive for those seeking elegant and affordable jewellery.

Can I wear freshwater pearls in the shower or swimming pool?

guide to buy freshwater pearls

Wearing freshwater pearls in the shower or swimming pool is not recommended.

Water, chemicals, and chlorine exposure can damage the pearls and affect their lustre and durability.

How long do freshwater pearls typically last?

guide to buy freshwater pearls

With proper care and maintenance, freshwater pearls can last for generations.

Regular cleaning, safe storage, and occasional restringing ensure longevity and continued beauty.

What is the best way to clean freshwater pearl jewelry?

guide to buy freshwater pearls

The best way to clean freshwater pearl jewellery is to use a soft.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or immersing them in water, as it can damage the pearls.