The truth about chocolate pearls is that they are very expensive. To get a natural color chocolate pearl is very rare which means that those chocolate pearls you see everywhere have a manufactured color.
Yes, the thought of lush brown colored pearls is glorious. A rich brown colored pearl is great for Fall fashion and it is a treat for Valentine’s Day too. You know, “Don’t get me chocolates, get me chocolate pearls!” The only problem is that if you see a strand of brown cultured pearls that are pretty uniform in shape, size and color, this is an indicator that these pearls were treated to become that color. Given the rarity of the natural chocolate color, it would be difficult to find a finely matched strand.
The real-color chocolate pearls actually typically originate from a black lipped oyster like the Tahitian black pearls. They are certainly an anomaly and, because of that, they are sometimes created. How? There are two options. Either dye the pearls using a standard dye or use silver nitrate as a chemical dye.
Silver nitrate is the material in photographic film that turns dark when exposed to light. So, if you soak pearls in silver nitrate and then expose them to light, the pearls turn a tone of brown, gray or black. The exact tone is based on how long they were soaked and how strong the silver nitrate solution was. I explain this in More Ways To Color Pearls.
Another option is to take pearls, of any color, and simply dye them. Dyed Pearls are usually very unnatural looking but dying pearls brown definitely serves the purpose to create a pearl that would otherwise be unattainable.
Here is a good indicator your chocolate pearls are dyed…. there are no freshwater chocolate pearls on the market. So, if you are purchasing chocolate brown freshwater pearls you automatically know these were dyed!
So there you have it. The truth about chocolate pearls is, most likely, yours really are not naturally brown at all!
UPDATE: In response to some questions about chocolate pearls, I want you to know just because your chocolate pearls were expensive, this does not mean they were not dyed. The following earrings are on sale at Zales for $249 and they are very open about the fact that these are dyed freshwater pearls. So, do not let the price tag lead you to believe you have a naturally colored chocolate pearl!
I am a modern day treasure hunter who travels the world for gorgeous pearls and amazing adventures. I own a pearl jewelry and jewelry repair business, ThePearlGirls.com, with a cute retail store in Athens, GA. I also have a Pearl Travel business and travel blog at TheWorldofPearl.com.