"Quick and Dirty about Pearls" a novel by Deb @ Crysallis
Most of what we see available on the market today are Cultured Pearl, which is a method introduced by Mikimoto, yes that's a person's last name and not just a brand name. lol
Japanese Akoya pearl was actually the first culture pearl that came into the market back then, Mr. Mikimoto realized that if a neucleus was introduced to a mollusk, the shell starts to wrap these pearl forming layers around the foreign object as self defense mechanism, and this is how pearls are form, and since it's done by hand and in a controlled environment, thus they're called cultured pearls.
Due to realization of cheap and mass abundance of labor in China, Akoya brought their culture pearl to be produced in China, then of course such method was adopt by Chinese, which is how we have Chinese Freshwater Pearls today.
Both salt water and fresh water pearls are cultured pearls, the mollusks were habitat in different water and that's basically all the difference. While salt water pearls naturally produced pearl nacre that's with more depth and colorplay, like what we'll see on an abalone shell ( aka Paua shell ), due to mineral elements that's within sea water in comparison to freshwater.... way to techy for me to find them interest to be honest....
Salt water pearls used to have way more "pink" pearlescence finish when placed side by side with FWP, but that's no longer true today. Chinese Fresh Water pearls are catching up by leaps and bound in quality and definitely way more in production quantity, compare to Akoya salt water pearls.
There are the 4 C's when it comes to grading of diamond, it's about as complicated with pearls as it is with diamond. Even within GIA courses "Pearl" is a seperate study. I do not know all the real technical things (yet!!) but here is what I know..
When judging the value of pearls, there are a few things that I tend to look for: roundness, nacre, luster, not in particular order. I would for certain sacrifice roundness if I can have the other 2 factors, because it is always harder to have a perfectly round pearls compare to have a gorgeous luster thick nacre pearl, and personally I am not that crazy about pearls, at least not any of the sightly affordable ones... LOL
Luster, simply put, is if the pearl "shines", while Nacre is referring to the pearl layers of a pearl.
To pick out a good strand of pearl at show, do not judge them by the price the seller sells them, but rather go to someone you trust. There's no set rules for how to price pearls, so all can be fooled unless if it's someone who's fully trained and not a lot can be done even by professionals just by touching and looking at pearls with bare eyes. So the best thing to do is to go with your gut feeling, if you trust this seller, and definitely comparison shop around before you buy.
One more fact before I go on.... usually only bad bad poor quality pearls will be used to dye into colored pearls, which are commonly used in bead jewelry today and rightfully so... why would you want to risk scratching up a perfectly fine pearl that may costs hundreds or thousands?? LOL So all that you'll need to look for with colored pearls is if you like the shape, whether or not their consistant on the strand, is the drilled hole straight all the way through?? And that's basically it! IF you fancy a certain color that you see, I would say grab a few more strands than you think you'll "need", because with each dye lot of colored pearls, they will be different. All that you'll need to do is make sure you're not paying an arm and a leg for colored pearls, and if you trust the seller. That's all...
Another surge in the market today is Keishi pearls. This has always been one of my favorite type of pearl to work with, not only for their texture, but also because Keishi pearls are "pure pearls", meanning there's no neucleus or foreign object introduced into the mollusks to produce these. There are a lot of sellers out there today who name irregular shaped pearl nuggets as Keishi, which is really deceiving.... so be careful when you buy/
I think that's enough info for now.... Let me know if you need further info with anything???