The classification of cultured pearls: THE COLOR – part 5

The classification of cultured pearls: THE COLOR – part 5

The last classification criterion of cultured pearls is: the color.
In this article we will first analyze the natural colors of cultured pearls and then the artificial ones.

For those who have not had the opportunity to read the previous articles of this edition, we enclose the links:
– The shape of cultured pearls
– The size of the cultured pearls
– The luminosity of cultured pearls
– The surface area and degree of cultivation of a cultured pearl


The color of the pearls is perhaps one of the aspects that we are most asked to explain. Often it is thought that pearls are only white when in reality pearls can have multiple natural colors. For example they can be pink, black, yellow…

The different colors are possible because there are different types of oysters with different skins. The color of the oyster’s lips significantly influences the color of the pearl that will be generated. In fact, the oyster will deposit layers of mother-of-pearl around the nucleus of the color that it is able to produce.

For example, Tahitian pearls are produced by the “pinctada margaritifera” oyster, which has dark shades, tending towards black, but it has also lighter shades tending towards gray and blue. It will therefore be that the Tahitian pearls will have different shades of color: black, brown, gray, blue… all natural. In the next articles we will illustrate the different types of oysters usually used for the production of pearls.

We report below some of the most common natural colors by type of pearl. Each color then has different darker/lighter shades which are what make each pearl unique.

Freshwater pearls

  • White
  • Violet
  • Pink
  • Orange

Gold pearl

  • Gold
  • Yellow
  • Ocher

Australian pearl

  • White
  • Gray

Tahiti pearl

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Gray
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Yellow

The color of a pearl is a critical element during the pairing phase, i.e. when similar pearls are sought in order to make pairs of earrings. In fact, it is necessary to have large lots to find two “twin” pearls that match each other not only in size and shape but also in tone.


The artificial coloring of the pearls allows to have colors not present in nature and to expand the offer on the market of different shades.
Some coloring techniques are able to reproduce colors similar to natural ones such as to confuse an inexperienced eye.

One of the advantages of artificial coloring is certainly the creation of pearls with particular shades at reduced prices.
On the other hand, since coloring is a surface treatment, the color is less stable and is more subject to impact and wear over time.
However, there are treatments that can alter the color of the pearls and last over time.

If in doubt about the naturalness of the colour, we recommend asking the shopkeeper for more precise information.

Trimi Gioielli - Gioielli artigianali in argento
Trimi Gioielli - Gioielli artigianali in argento

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