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One of my favorite jewelry components is freshwater pearls. The colors are endless and the design possiblities varied.

Freshwater pearls come from mollusks (not oysters, which are in salt water only) which are cultivated in lakes and rivers, not in the ocean. They are often somewhat less lustrous than their saltwater counterparts. However, they appear in a wide variety of shapes and colors, and they tend to be less expensive than saltwater pearls, making them quite popular. Freshwater pearls are also quite durable, resisting chipping, wear, and degeneration. A single mollusk can produce up to 50 pearls.

Pearls are named according to their shapes. Some of them include:

Roundish pearls with a slightly oblong shape and less-symmetrical curves, resembling more a potato than a sphere.

pink freshwater pearls with agate pendant necklace

An elongated freshwater pearl with a crinkled or ringed surface, many of which resemble a grain of rice.

rice pearls on sterling silver hoop earrings

Pearls that are almost perfectly spherical, which is the shape most people think of when they think of a pearl.

grey freshwater pearls and agate pendant necklace

Pearls that are pear or teardrop-shaped. The drop can either be “long” or “short,” depending on its proportions.

freshwater pearl and stone bracelet

Pearls with an irregular shape resembling stones or nuggets. The surfaces can be smooth or rough. They can include pearls shaped like popcorn, peanuts, bullets, rocks and so on. Larger, quality nuggets are classified as “baroque”.

coin pearl on sterling silver earrings

Button pearls are round pearls that are flattened to some degree, making them resemble a button or perhaps a disk rather than a perfect sphere. Often they are flat on one side.

white frehswater pearl and chrysoprase bracelet

Coin pearls are pearls that are round and flat on two sides, making them shaped like a coin.

coin pearl on sterling round hoop earrings

SALTWATER PEARLS                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Pearls that come from mollusks that live in saltwater, the most well-known of which are oysters. Saltwater pearls tend to be rounder and have richer tones, and thus fetch a much higher price. The best pearls in upscale jewelry shops are usually saltwater pearls.

MABE  PEARLS                                                                                                                         A hemispherical shaped pearl which is grown against the inside of the oyster’s shell, rather than within its tissue. The pearl develops in a dome form with a flat back – the back is usually attached manually after harvesting. Cultured mabes are used for such things as rings and earrings, rather than for stringing on necklaces.

KEISHI PEARLS                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Keshi Pearls are among the most lustruous of pearls. They are formed when an oyster rejects and spits out the nucleus implanted during the process of producing cultured pearls. Because the nucleus has been expelled by the oyster, the resulting keshi pearl is pure nacre, giving it unparalleled luster and beauty. These keshi pearls, also known as petal pearls, can form in either saltwater or freshwater and are relatively rare. They can come in a variety of colors, both naturally and dyed.

keishi pearl, amethyst, sterling silver orchid pendant necklace

Pearl Necklace
Songwriters: Frank Beard, William Gibbons, Joe Hill

She’s really upset with me again,
I didn’t give her what she likes.
I don’t know what to tell her,
Don’t know what to say.
Everything got funky last night.

She was really bombed,
And I was really blown away,
Until I asked her what she wanted,
And this is what she had to say:
A pearl necklace.
She wanna pearl necklace.
She wanna pearl necklace.

She gets a charge out of bein’ so weird,
Digs gettin’ downright strange.
But I can keep a handle on anything,
Just this side of deranged.

She was gettin’ bombed,
And I was gettin’ blown away,
And she held it in her hand
And this is what she had to say:
A pearl necklace.
She wanna pearl necklace.
She wanna pearl necklace.

She is so tough, as pure as the driven slush.
And that’s not true what she’s talkin’ about,
It really don’t cost that much.

She was gettin’ bombed,
And I was gettin’ blown away,
And she took it in her hand,
And this is what she had to say:
A pearl necklace.
She wanna pearl necklace.
She wanna pearl necklace.


"Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.” Mark Twain

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