About Pearls

Oyster with a white pearl

At CoCho Designs, we offer a variety of Tahitian, South Sea and Freshwater pearl jewelry for any style and budget.  Please use this guide to find the perfect pearl for you and your loved ones.

How are pearls created?

Pearls are purely organic gems produced by living shelled mollusks which makes every pearl unique.  To create a pearl, a tiny bead is implanted into the mantle folds of a mollusk.  The “irritant” causes the mollusk to secrete calcium carbonate crystals.  Over time, the mollusk coats the bead in many layers of calcium carbonate crystals.  These layers are referred to as “nacre” that gives the pearl its beautiful luster and color.

Natural pearls are extremely rare, and therefore the most valuable as they are created by chance.  Today, most pearls are cultured in pearl farms. Cultured pearls are valued for their orient, size, shape, color, luster and the quality of their surface (ie. flaws or spots).  To distinguish cultured pearls from imitation ones, gently rub it against the edge of a tooth.  You will notice that the cultured pearls have a slightly rough texture, like fine sandpaper.  Imitation  pearls may feel smooth as glass.

Shapes: Because pearls are organic they come in a wide variety of shapes.  Every pearl has a slightly different shapes that can be classified into seven basic shapes: round, off-round, oval, drop, button (flattened to some degree), ringed (circled), and baroque (non-symmetrical and irregular in shape).  Perfectly round pearls are typically known to be the most desirable because of their relative rarity.

Colors: Typical pearl colors are white, cream, yellow, pink, silver, blue, green, black and blue.

Saltwater Pearls

Saltwater and Freshwater pearls come from different sources.  Pearls cultured in mollusks in oceans are considered saltwater pearls.  Most common saltwater pearls are South Sea Pearls, Tahitian and Akoya pearls.  Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls are highly valued due to their rarity as the oyster can only be nucleated with one pearl at a time.

Tahitian pearls, which are often referred to as black pearls, are primarily produced in French Polynesian atolls.  Tahitian pearls are the colors of silver, blue, black, green, aubergine or a mix of  several shades like a peacock’s feather.

South Sea pearls are the largest and rarest of the cultured pearls, making them the most valuable for their prized luster.  Most South Sea pearls are produced in the northwestern part of Australia, Philippines and Indonesia.  South Sea pearls are usually the shades of white, silver, cream, gold and pink.

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are cultured in mussels that live in bodies of freshwater such as rivers, lakes and ponds.  Unlike saltwater oysters , freshwater mussels can be nucleated with multiple pearl implants.  The volume output accounts for some of the diminished value of Freshwater pearls compared to Saltwater pearls.

Care Instructions

Our pearl jewelry is designed to be worn on any occasion.  With proper care, your pearl can last a lifetime.  Because pearls are primarily made of calcium carbonate, they are susceptible to acids. Avoid any chemicals such as chlorinated water, perfume, sunscreen and hairspray as the acids contained in these products can dull the luster of your pearl.  Before you put your pearl away, wipe your pearl with a soft cloth and store separately in a jewelry pouch.

We incorporate leather in our jewelry designs.  Leather will turn dark with time and wear.  To preserve your leather, condition it with Shea butter.  Be careful not to get any Shea butter on the pearl.  If you do, simply clean your pearl with a soft cloth to preserve the luster.