Freshwater Pearl

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June Birthstone

Although freshwater pearl cultivation originated in Japan, China is now the world's major producer of freshwater pearls. The humble freshwater mussel, while not as widely celebrated as its cousin the oyster, is capable of producing high-quality pearls. Generally speaking, freshwater pearls tend not to have the luster and shine of saltwater, but do form in a variety of shapes and colors, and are typically sold at lower prices.

Freshwater Pearl Polished
Freshwater Pearl Classification
Common Name Freshwater Pearl
Species Pearl
Freshwater Pearl Optical Properties
Transparency Translucent - Opaque
Refractive Index 1.530-1.685
Birefringence 0.155
Optic Character NA
Optic Sign NA
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG)
Fluorescence SWUV: Variable
LWUV: Variable
Pleochroism None
Freshwater Pearl Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 2.5-4
Specific Gravity 2.720-2.780
Toughness Good
Inclusions If the pearl is drilled you can inspect the hole to look for lack of bead nucleus.
Luster Dull, Metallic
Stability Poor
Fracture Uneven
Cleavage None
Freshwater Pearl Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name calcium carbonate + conchiolin and water
Chemical Formula CaCO3
Crystal System NA
Chemistry Classification Organic

Freshwater Pearl Colors

  • Black Freshwater Pearl Black
  • Yellow Freshwater Pearl Yellow
  • White Freshwater Pearl White
  • Red Freshwater Pearl Red
  • Purple Freshwater Pearl Purple
  • Pink Freshwater Pearl Pink
  • Orange Freshwater Pearl Orange
  • Green Freshwater Pearl Green
  • Gray Freshwater Pearl Gray
  • Brown Freshwater Pearl Brown
  • Blue Freshwater Pearl Blue

Alternate Names

Kasumiga Pearl

Countries of Origin

Colombia; United States of America (the); Viet Nam; Japan; Thailand; French Polynesia; India; Unknown; China; Namibia; Brazil; Italy; Israel; Bulgaria; Chile; Nepal; Indonesia


Welcome a wonder-filled addition to your jewelry collection: the humble freshwater pearl. This gemstone grows in a mussel, in a fashion that's similar to its more storied pearl cousins. Don't let this one slip through your fingers. Freshwater pearls are more prevalent, can be easily dyed to reflect a myriad of colors and they are often crazy affordable.


Pearls are softer than most other gemstones. Keep your pearls separate and protected from dirt and dust. Pearls should be last on when you dress and first off in the evening. Chemicals like hairspray and perfume can damage your pearls - keep pearls away from them. Clean pearls after each wearing with a soft, dry, cloth.

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More About Freshwater Pearl

If you enjoy the legends and stories that surround gemstones, you'll be glad to know that freshwater pearls have taken their place beside several of their more storied pearl relatives. Those who believe in the power of gems attribute the freshwater pearl with the ability to give wisdom and cement engagements, improve financial positions, protect the wearer, and keep children safe. The early Chinese legends include the story that pearls fall from the sky when dragons fight. Other legends suggest that pearls are the tears of the Gods.

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Keshi Pearls

A happy accident of pearl farming, keshi pearls are produced by chance. Saltwater oysters sometimes reject their bead implant, but particles of the accompanying mantle tissue remain and stimulate the production of nacre in flat, petal-like shapes. They are often removed as seed pearls, inspiring their name, meaning "poppy seed" in Japanese. While some people think they should be considered natural pearls, they are a by-product of the culturing process so this is not technically correct. One of the most striking characteristics of South Sea keshi pearls is their very intense luster and iridescence, sometimes greater than seen in the finest cultured pearls.

Keshi Pearls Freshwater Pearl
Keshi Pearls Classification
Common Name Keshi Pearls
Keshi Pearls Optical Properties
Refractive Index 1.53-1.685
Keshi Pearls Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.61
Inclusions Keshi pearls have intense luster and iridescent surface.
Stability Fair

Seed Pearls

Seed pearls are very tiny, round, usually natural pearls that are under two millimeters in size. They are rarely seen today, but often found in antique jewelry or sewn into vintage clothing. Seed pearls can be produced by both freshwater and saltwater mollusks.

Seed Pearls Freshwater Pearl
Seed Pearls Classification
Common Name Seed Pearls
Seed Pearls Optical Properties
Refractive Index Over the Limit 2.61-2.85
Seed Pearls Characteristic Physical properties
Inclusions Seed pearls have an Iridescent surface.
Stability Fair
Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.