Are you looking to buy pearls as a gift or an addition to your jewelry collection? You may have heard of both cultured pearls and real pearls, but what’s the difference between them? In this article, we’ll take a look at how these two types of pearls differ from one another and define imitation pearls too. If you need to clear up any confusion you may have, read on to learn the basics!

Cultured Pearls                                                    

Cultured pearls are the most common type of pearl found in jewelry stores today. They are grown on pearl farms using oysters or mussels, which act as the host for the pearl as it grows.

Cultured pearls form when a technician inserts a mother of pearl nucleus inside the mollusk along with mantel tissue that coats the bead with nacre (the iridescent covering.) The mollusk is then returned it to the water where it will remain quietly until it is harvested.

The process of creating cultured pearls can take anywhere from three months to four years depending on the size and quality desired. The resulting cultured pearls come in various shapes and sizes, and they come with a variety of colors ranging from white to black.

Real Pearls

Real (natural) pearls are created spontaneously by oysters or mussels without any human intervention – they occur completely by chance! This occurs when an irritant, usually a parasite or a grain of sand, enters the shell and triggers the process to protect itself from the intruder.

Most of these natural pearls have an irregular shape compared to cultured pearls because they form over time due to constant irritation within their host mollusk's shell.

They are also more valuable than their cultured counterparts because they are rarer and they take years and years to grow. They are also less predictable in terms of size, color, and shape. However, due to their rarity, real pearls can be difficult to find and usually cost significantly more than their cultured counterparts.

Imitation Pearls                                                    

Imitation pearls are not cultured pearls or real (natural) pearls that are found in the oceans and freshwater lakes and rivers of the world, but simple look-alikes. Any beads that are used in jewelry intended to look like pearls, are imitations. Everything from glass beads covered in iridescent and lacquer coatings to plastic beads that snap together, are all classified as imitations and have very little value at all.

Now that you understand the difference between real and cultured pearls, you can make an informed decision about which type is right for you if you’re looking for a new piece of jewelry!

Whether you choose real or cultured, both types make stunning additions to your wardrobe or special occasions like weddings or anniversaries. With proper care, either type will last for many years — so pick up some new pearl jewelry today!

Click HERE for additional information and beautiful examples of all varieties of cultured pearls.