From the Rings & Things Showroom: What’s Fresh with Freshwater Pearls

April 29, 2011


Blue and Green Freshwater Pearls

One of my favorite materials to make jewelry with is, hands down, freshwater pearls. I absolutely adore freshwater pearls! Why do I love them so much? Well first and foremost, they are beautiful! Also, they now come in so many shapes and colors, that the possibility for jewelry designs are endless. Freshwater pearls add a whimsical and organic feel to jewelry designs and plus they help me to get in touch with my inner “mermaid”!

Some of the pearls we have right now at our Spokane, Washington Showroom

That being said, here at our Rings & Things Showroom in Spokane, Washington, we just received a huge shipment of beautiful pastel and jewel tone freshwater pearls (just in time to help you with your Spring jewelry designs)! Though I was tempted to keep these pearls a secret all to myself, I realized they were just too pretty to not share with our fellow jewelry “bloggies”. So I have taken some pictures to show you the rainbow of pearls we currently have on display.

So what are Freshwater Pearls?

Freshwater pearls are cultured with the use of mollusks; in particular a species of freshwater mussels. The mussels are injected with a nucleus bead that is sometimes made from a small piece of shell or mantel tissue. The shape of the injected bead helps to determine the shape of the future pearl, as nacre will form around this bead. Nacre is the silky coating layered on pearls that make them so silky and beautiful. Over the years, pearl producers have become quite skilled at creating pearls in a variety of shapes. Below is a visual guide of the most common pearl shapes and a little info about each shape. Enjoy!

Coin Pearls: These are formed by using a disc-shaped bead as the nucleus. Sometimes they are almost perfect circles, while other times the shape is much more organic.

Keishi Pearls: These are actually formed when the mussel rejects the injected bead. The result is a very free-formed shape that kind of resembles Rice Krispies! They are by far my favorite shape of pearl!


Corn Pearls: This shape is like a round, but more flat. They resemble corn kernels and are center-drilled. Corn pearls can be used where you would typically use a rondelle shaped bead.


Potato Pearls: These pearls can vary from almost perfectly round, to fairly lumpy, like a potato. This is a very common pearl shape. Sometimes potato pearls have ridges in the nacre.


Blister Pearls: These pearls are irregular and occur when a pearl grows while still attached to the inside of the shell of the mollusk. They are also sometimes called bouton pearls.


Button Pearls: These are very similiar in shape to the corn pearls. They are side-drilled with one flat side and one rounded side. The picture shows the rounded side, but they are sitting flat on the surface.


Biwa Pearls: This name originally referred to all freshwater pearls grown in Biwa Lake, Japan. However, the name now refers to any stick-shaped or rectangular pearls. Usually they are drilled horizontally in the center or tip of the stick, but as you can see sometimes they are drilled through the center lengthwise.


Rice Pearls: These pearls are smooth and oblong in shape like an oval. They are usually center-drilled, though sometimes they can be found side-drilled.

Well, I hope I have gotten you inspired and excited about freshwater pearls! We have an ever-growing supply of freshwater pearls here at Rings & Things available as regular stock all the time. If you want to see some of the fantastic bright and springy pearls we just received, then head down and see us at our Rings & Things Showroom or check out our traveling Trunk Show, heading across the country right now! (Request an invitation!)


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  • Reply Dita April 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I am so tempted to come to your show room. But I live in California! I love pearls and I like the way you mentioned how they are formed. Quite interesting.

  • Reply JeannieK May 1, 2011 at 2:09 am

    OMG! I’m drooling! My motto is: When in doubt, use pearls.

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