What Determines The Colour Of Pearl Jewelry

pearl natural color

By now you’ve become aware that pearls come in a variety of different colours.  No longer are women restricting themselves to wearing pearl jewelry that comprises only beautiful white spheres in their design.  Let’s find out what exactly dictated the colour of your pearls!

Although the word “pearl” is closely associated with the colour white, these days pearls come in a variety of different colours and shades from white to cream, to pink, lavender, gold, black, and other multicolour overtones.


pearl colors

There are several different factors that are in fact responsible for determining what the colour of pearl jewelry is.  Although sometimes we can play a role in determining what colour the pearls are in most cases it is a game of chance as to what colour the pearls will be.

There are some exceptions to the rules.   For example, it is very rare that the black-lipped oyster is able to produce a white pearl.  We can also say the same that other types of oysters would find it very hard to create black pearls.

Pearl Jewelry Colour Contributing Factors

The factors that actually will often determine the colour of the pearl that the oyster produces are as follows:

  • The kind of oyster in which the pearl will grow
  • How many layers of nacre the oyster produces as well as how thick these layers are
  • Any kind of trace elements that can be found inside the oyster’s environment
  • How the pearls are manufactured will also play a role in determining what the colours of the pearls are

Natural Pearl Colours

It doesn’t matter whether the pearls produced are grown in saltwater or freshwater oysters, they all come in an array of different colours.   Yes the most common is still white or cream coloured pearls, but now other colours have become ever more popular.

This is because we have been able to successfully cultivate pearls in controlled environments.  However, although we have more control over the creation of pearls there are still parts of the process that we do not have any control over.   One area that we certainly cannot control is that of what colour the pearls inside the oysters will be.

beautiful pearl color

Yes, there are ways that the pearl farmers can influence this, but often they choose to leave it to chance.  It is the organic nature of the way in which a pearl grows within the oyster along with certain other factors that will actually influence what colour the pearls are.

The kinds of factors that are going to actually determine the colour of the gems in your pearl jewelry are shown below.


  1. Type Of Oyster

The colour of the pearls you see today is mainly influenced by the colour of the lip (outer part of the shell) of the oyster in which it is growing.   So if the pearl were to be growing inside a Pinctada Margaritifera oyster it would be a Black Tahitian Pearl.

You will find that this particular type of oyster has tints of silver and grey around the edge of its shell.  In fact, this is the only kind of oyster that is actually capable of being able to produce a natural black pearl.  You often find that most other black pearls have been dyed.

As for the Pinctada Maxima or silver-lipped oyster this, as you would expect, has hints of silver around the edge of its shell.   It is the only oyster that is capable of producing the beautiful luxurious South Sea pearls that many women would love to own.

  1. Nacre Thickness

The nacre is a substance that all oysters are able to produce that they use to cover over the irritant that has been placed inside them in order to create a pearl.  The thicker the nacre covering you will then find that the pearls in any good quality pearl jewelry bracelets or necklaces will have much richer and deeper colours to them.

pearl color

Plus the thickness of the nacre will also have an effect on how iridescent the pearls are.  If the pearls have only a few thin layers of nacre you often find that these pearls tend to be milkier in colour and with very little or no overtones to them.

  1. Interference By Us

Sometimes it is possible during the manufacture of pearls to actually have more influence over what colour the final pearl produced by the oyster will be.   There are several different culturing techniques that some pearl farmers use that help to determine what colour pearl jewelry will be.

One technique that is frequently used by the manufacturers of pearls today is through the addition of tissue from another oyster into the host one along with the nucleus.  Of course, again the colour that the pearls turn out to be may not be exactly what the pearl farmer was hoping for.

  1. Dyeing Of Pearls

The dyeing of pearls is another way that allows manufacturers to alter the colour of these beautiful gemstones.   As already mentioned the dyeing of pearls to create black ones is very common these days.  Unless it clearly states the black pearl jewelry you are buying is made up of Tahitian black pearls then in all likelihood the jewelry is made up of dyed Akoya pearls instead,

Even though we can have some influence over what colour pearls are grown in the oysters, in fact, most of the true coloured pearls are very rare and finding them naturally is very difficult.

The rarest colour pearls that grown naturally are as follows:

  1. Pink Pearls

These beautifully colored pearls are very highly prized especially in the USA and are among the rarest of all-natural coloured pearls to be found today.  They actually grow inside of the Queen Conch Snail rather than an oyster, and these types of molluscs are very rare, so much so they are actually classified as being an endangered creature.

We have made attempts to try to actually cultivate these pearls but with no real success.  As a result of this what you will find is that the majority of pink pearls you see being used in various pearl jewelry designs are in fact freshwater pearls that have been dyed.


  1. Golden South Sea Pearls

Like pink pearls, these are among the rarest kinds of pearls used today in pearl jewelry and of course among the most expensive.  The actual oyster that is able to create such beautiful gemstones is the Gold-lipped oyster, and which can only be found in certain parts of the world.

golden south sea color


  1. Natural Blue Akoya Pearls

These are in fact very rare pearls and in the past were actually considered to be of inferior quality compared to other kinds of pearls because of their different colour and irregular shape.   But of course today, such pearls are now highly prized and are very highly coveted.

Pearl Colour And Value

As you will soon discover the colour of the pearl will determine just how much they cost.  But also size, shape, type, quality, and luster are other factors that will be taken into consideration when determining the price of any piece of pearl jewelry in which they have been used.

The kinds of pearls that tend to command a much higher price are those that have a uniform and even colour to them.  Also, those pearls with deep body tones and beautiful overtones to their main colour will be more expensive than ones with a much duller look to them.

So What Colour Pearls Are The Most Expensive? 

In most cases you will find it is gold, pink and blue pearls that tend to command a much higher price, this is because they are much rarer.

However, for quite some time black pearls actually use to be very expensive as well but have now become a lot more affordable.  This is down to the fact that we can now grow them in controlled environments.

black pearl color

Whilst white pearls generally are now the least expensive of all kinds of pearls you can own, compared to coloured ones.  However, if you were to opt for pearl jewelry that contains natural white pearls in the design then such pieces will prove more expensive than jewelry comprised of cultured colour pearls in them.

At this present time, the most expensive of all pearls you are likely to find being sold are the South Sea Variety, which comes primarily in white or gold.   As already mentioned the reason for this is that the oysters in which they are grown can only be found in certain parts of the world.  Plus the time it takes for each oyster to produce one of these beautiful pearls is quite long.

Here at Pearlsonly.com, we have an amazing selection of different coloured pearls for you to choose from, so finding on the suits your particular tastes and price range shouldn’t prove at all different.  We have a wonderful array of different pearl jewelry designs to choose from that will look stunning no matter when you choose to wear yours, whether out for lunch with a friend or to some special event say a gala dinner with your partner.

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