What Color Are White Pearls?

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Funny, right? What color are white pearls? Don’t we just want to answer, “White!” but if life were that easy and if there were no trick questions, well I would have been a straight A student! This is a tricky one because when I ask what color are white pearls, we begin to see the depth of colors that pearls offer. 

When I first flew to California for a Pearl grading class in 2008, I would have said white pearls are white pearls. But, as we studied pearl identification, I soon learned that sure, there is a base color, (in this case it is white) but pearls have overtones and undertones that alter the overall look of the pearls. That’s why some of us have cool pearls and others have creamy pearls and still others have very flat, depthless white pearls. It is all in the tones.

And what colors are these tones? Pink, Green, Yellow… you name it, and pearls can have it!

There was a time when the pearls from Japan had a warm pink overtone and they became all the rage. So, other pearl supplieers, including the japansese, colored there white pearls ever so slightly to mimic the appearance of these pink overtones. The process was called pinking!

The tones of pearls are particularly apparent when we compare our cultured pearls with mother of pearl beads. Here are some of our 4mm pearls that we use in our Cultured Pearl Heart necklace:

What color are white pearls? - The Pearl Girls

Do you see how when you compare these cultured pearls with the carved mother of pearl, you can truly see the difference in white. These carved mother of pearl beads come from the Ebony mollusk on the Tennessee River. This is a pure white mother of pearl. Placed against our cultured pearls, you can see the vast difference in the tones!

So, what color are white pearls? For simplicity sake, we will still call them white pearls but the depth of tones and colors really prove that white pearls are like a prism offering us a rainbow of colors.


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