Natural Pearl Colors

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I have been talking alot about pearl treatments, dying pearls, tinting pearls and more so what are the natural pearl colors? That is what we really want to know!

Natural Color of Pearls

Well, first things first, how does a pearl get its color? We do have a variety of natural pearl colors and they all originate from the color of the mollusk shell. You see, any mollusk that can make its own shell can make a pearl. The pearl is made of the same calcium carbonate and conchiolin that form a pearl. These ingredients are also called nacre or mother-of-pearl. That pretty material on the inside of a mollusk shell, that is the mother-of-pearl. It is literally the mother material that makes the pearl. So, the natural pearl color will come from the colors in that mother of pearl. So, we can say, the color of the pearl is derived from the color in the shell. Or, we could say the color of the inner shell will show you the possible pearl colors that the mollusk can produce.


Saltwater pearls, by far, have a wider range of pearl colors. The black lipped oyster can produce a range of the dark colors. The Silver Lipped Oyster can produce the beautiful South Sea silvery white pearls. The Gold Lipped Oyster can produce the golden South Sea pearls. Even akoya pearls, know for being white, can come in colors ranging from white to yellow and even blue. Freshwater pearls are limited to mauve, pink and white colors.

I love this pearl color wheel from the GIA as a great representation of what is a natural color in pearls.

GIA Pearl color wheel - natural color of pearls


It is the softness of the pearl color that I am truly drawn to and the color which cannot be replicated in most of the bright color dyed pearls. If you see pearls whose colors fall outside of this color wheel, the pearl color has most likely been manipulated through dying or other pearl tinting and coloring processes.

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