In time for the New Year, many people are looking to make some changes in their life. One change people have been making is switching from a career that is unsustainable and environmentally harmful to one that they believe will be good for the earth.

There has been a rise in the popularity of sustainable jewellery and fashion, which has led to an increase in demand for freshwater pearls. They come from saltwater or freshwater sources and can be used as necklaces, earrings, rings, or pendants.

Freshwater pearl jewellery is the hottest trend for 2022. These pearls are made by harvesting a mollusc, which causes each pearl to be unique in its shape and size. For consumers looking to organise and revamp their jewellery collection, this process has led to increased demand for freshwater pearl jewellery and an increased need for sustainable sources of freshwater pearls.

What are freshwater pearls?

Oysters mature in non-saline water such as ponds and lakes, as opposed to saltwater from the sea, so freshwater pearls come from them. Saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater pearls, but freshwater pearls are not as round. In today’s market, most freshwater pearls come from lakes and rivers in China but are produced in a smaller capacity in Japan and the USA. Some freshwater mussels can produce up to 50 pearls compared to saltwater oysters that can only contain from 2 to 5 pearls.

In recent years, the quality of mussels has been steadily increasing as new methods are being developed to reduce the number of grafts inserted into the mussel and that in turn affects the number of pearls produced. They are pearls that are grown using scientific methods rather than nature’s own means.

The pearls are formed from the layers of calcium carbonate, or nacre, that is built up in oysters. The thickness of the layer is what determines the beauty of the pearl. The new methods above mean that the freshwater pearls are formed entirely of nacre, so it doesn’t have a bead nucleus. The more nacre a pearl has, the harder and more durable it is.

Freshwater pearls have become popular in jewellery design because they are inexpensive and of better quality and availability.

freshwater pearls in oysters

Are freshwater pearls sustainable?

Pearls are in fact sustainable, but not all freshwater pearls are created equal. Pearl farms have been found to be destructive to the marine environment and can also cause significant harm to the coral reefs. There is a lot of pressure on these farms because they generate a lot of revenue for companies and their futures are very important.

However, pearls are very vulnerable to pollution so many pearl farmers are concerned about being green. They work with their suppliers for years and many can vouch that they operate in an eco-friendly way.

In order to make freshwater pearls sustainable, there needs to be more regulation on how they are farmed. There need to be stricter environmental standards and better practices in place before the farms can continue selling their products.

Sustainable farming allows oysters to produce a quality of pearls that’s superior to those produced by more traditional methods. By developing new sustainable farming methods, companies can produce oysters that are both environmentally sustainable and of high quality. Pearl farming is an example of an industry that can help solve environmental problems while contributing to sustainable environmental and economic development.

Mikimoto is an example jewellery company that is known for its high-quality jewellery. Their well known, Akoya pearls are slightly smaller than the South Sea pearls but they make up for it in lustre. They developed a pioneering harvesting policy in 2009, which ensures zero waste.

Also, a pioneer in the international eco-friendly jewellery business is the family-run eco-jeweller Kamoka Pearl that farm Tahitian pearls in a lagoon located 300 miles north of Tahiti. Kamoka Pearl has farmed sustainably for generations, but have cemented its place in the industry when founder Josh Humbert found a new way to organically clean oysters via getting rid of the high-powered hoses that negatively affected the lagoon health.

What is the difference between freshwater pearls and cultured pearls?

Although the vast majority of pearls sold today are cultured pearls, there is actually no real difference between freshwater pearls and freshwater pearls. It’s the environment in which they are produced that makes the difference. Here are the differences:

  • Freshwater Pearls – Most freshwater pearls are made by mussels that are located in freshwater rivers and lakes. There are many types of freshwater pearls. They range from the roundest, most lustrous saltwater pearls to the smallest freshwater pearls and they can also be irregular in shape and display different colours. Technically, the larger the rounder the pearl, the more valuable it is. If you can find it, the rarest freshwater pearls can be worth as much as saltwater.
  • Saltwater Pearls – Saltwater pearls, including Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls, are created in saltwater environments. Akoya pearls are the most lustrous and have the highest price. You can find them in the waters off Japan from oysters that are located throughout the world’s oceans.

There’s a big difference in the availability of freshwater pearls vs. saltwater pearls. Saltwater pearls are usually more expensive, but you get high-grade quality jewellery. On the other hand, Freshwater pearls are more affordable with commercially priced jewellery.

Although they may be more expensive than saltwater pearls, freshwater pearls are still beautiful. They’re also more affordable, which makes them an attractive choice for many customers.