Richardson's Jewellers

Richardson's Jewellers

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Pearls are the birth stone for June. 

What Is The Difference Between a Freshwater Pearl and a Cultured Pearl?

What Is a Southsea Pearl?

All very common questions we get ask on a regular basis in our stores.

  • Cultured Pearls
  • Freshwater Pearls
  • South Sea Pearls
  • Tahitian Pearls
  • Mabe Pearls
  • Natural Pearls


A Cultured Pearl (may also be referred to as a Akoya Pearl)  is where we as humans give a little helping hand to the oyster. Normally a tiny bead is placed into the oyster and gradually the oyster will coat the bead in what is called ‘Nacre’ ( pronounced NAY-KER) being made up of Protein and Calcium until the bead has formed into a  beautiful pearl. The Nacre is what gives the Pearl the lustre and shine of the outer shell.  Being this is a natural product, body perspiration and perfumes can play a major role in the breaking down of your Pearl Jewellery.  Please be sure to visit our Pearl Care section of this page.

  • Cultured Pearls range in size from 2mm to 11mm.
  • Cultured Pearl colours are generally white or cream in the body colour, but are also available in Pinks, Greys and Golden colours.
  • Cultured Pearls are normally produced in shapes such as round and Baroque (neither round nor symmetrical).


Freshwater pearls are generally formed by either oyster or mussels in a freshwater environment such as ponds, rivers and lakes.

  • Freshwater Pearls range in size from 3mm to 7mm.
  • Majority of Freshwater Pearls these days are farmed in China.
  • Freshwater Pearl colours are generally white or cream body colour but are also available in a wide variety of colours.
  • Freshwater Pearls are not as round as Saltwater (Cultured Pearls) and tend to be less expensive as Cultured Pearls.


As the name suggests these Pearls are found in the saltwater of North Western Australia and South Sea Islands.

  • South Sea Pearls are a larger Pearl and range in size from 13mm to 20mm.
  • This Pearl is either produced by a Silver Lipped or a Gold Lipped Oyster
  • South Sea Pearl colours are typically white, silver and a golden colour.
  • South Sea Pearls are unique from their freshwater and cultured cousins in that the Nacre is normally thicker than a Freshwater or Cultured pearl. Ranging from 2mm-6mm opposed to .3mm to .7mm in Freshwater or Cultured.


  • Produced by the Black Lipped Oyster in the region of French Polynesia and South Pacific
  • The yellow, golden and sometimes greyish tones in the shell is due to the minerals salts, zinc carbonate, magnesium and cooper in this particular area.
  • The green tones will come from the amount of plankton in the waters.
  • Tahitian Pearls are generally 8mm to 15mm in size.
  • Tahitian Pearls come in various shapes such as;
    • Round
    • Semi Round
    • Semi Baroque
    • Drop
    • Button
    • Oval
    • Pear


  • Mabe Pearls are a hemispherical (Semi Circle flat back) which grows on the side of the oyster shell opposed to in the shell.
  • Mabe Pearl colours are anything from whites to creams to greys and blacks
  • Mabe Pearls are a Cultured Pearl.


  • A Natural Pearl is a real accident in nature and is very rare, hence why a natural pearl fetches a much higher price.
  • Natural Pearls come in various shapes and sizes.
  • A Natural Pearl found completely round is incredibly rare.


  • All pearls have to be worn and stored with care.
  • They should be stored on their own.
  • Perfumes and hairsprays are not the Pearls friends, when wearing your Pearls make sure your perfume and hairspray has been applied before you accessorise.
  • Remember Pearls are a shell based natural product and anything acidic will eat away at the lustre.
  • Always wipe your strand after wearing with a damp cloth.
  • Knotting of your strand of Pearls is a good idea to stop your pearls from rubbing against each other. Knotting is also a good idea if your strand breaks then you will only lose one Pearl not the entire strand.
  • Do not immerse Pearls into any form of liquid including water especially if they are strung on silk.