There are essentially two types of pearls: freshwater pearl and saltwater pearl.

Freshwater pearls grow in mussels living in rivers and lakes.

Saltwater pearls grow in oysters living in ocean. Golden South sea pearls, White South Sea Pearls ,Tahitian pearls, Akoya pearls are all saltwater pearls.

Differences between Saltwater and freshwater pearls: Lustre

In the past, freshwater pearls were less lustrous and not as glossy as saltwater pearls.

However, in recent years, due to the improvement in farming techniques, the lustre of Pearly Lustre’s freshwater pearls is now comparable to that of the saltwater pearl.

Differences between Saltwater and freshwater pearls: Shape and Color


Freshwater pearls come in greater variety of shapes (round, oval, etc) and colors. Saltwater pearls are usually more lustrous and have a rounder shape.


Saltwater pearls usually have Gold, Black and White color while freshwater pearls have pink, purple and white color.

Differences between Saltwater and freshwater pearls: Size

Freshwater pearls used to be cultivated over shorter period, as a result, they are smaller in size.

In recent years, however, many producers start to grow freshwater pearls for a longer time (three to six years), the change to that resulting pearls are larger 8-15mm which comparable to saltwater pearls 9-16mm.

Differences between Saltwater and freshwater pearls: Price

Freshwater pearls are cheaper for several reasons.

One of the reason, freshwater mussels are larger and can thus produce more pearls at a time as compared to saltwater oysters. As a result, saltwater pearls are more rare.

Saltwater pearls are mostly round and have better lustre characteristics that are more sought after and therefore command higher prices.