The Ocean’s Gems: A Guide to Pearls in Jewelry


Pearls, nature’s underwater treasure, have been symbols of elegance and grace throughout history. In this blog, we explore their fascinating origins, the different types available, and the characteristics that make them precious components in fine jewelry today.

How Are Pearls Formed?


Pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a tiny stone or a parasite, enters a mollusk. In an effort to protect itself, the mollusk coats the irritant with layers of nacre, a lustrous substance. The nacre continues to build over time, sometimes upwards of three years, eventually yielding the glistening pearls that are so highly cherished.

Today, most pearls found in jewelry are cultivated or cultured. These are formed similarly to natural pearls, with an irritant being deliberately placed inside a mollusk to start the pearl formation. Cultivated pearls have become more common in jewelry due to their availability and the ability to influence size and shape, making them a more accessible luxury than their rare natural counterparts.

Which Pearls Are Used in Jewelry?


There are four main types of pearls, each with its own unique set of characteristics and origins.


Akoya Pearls

Harvested primarily in Japan and China, Akoya pearls are often hailed as “traditional” pearls. They are renowned for their perfectly round shape and exceptional luster, making them a favorite in classic jewelry designs.

Tahitian Pearls

Originating from French Polynesia’s warm, pristine waters, Tahitian pearls offer a unique allure with their darker, vibrant colors, ranging from deep graphite to mesmerizing peacock green. These pearls provide a striking and bold alternative to more traditional pearl colors.

South Sea Pearls

The waters around Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the birthplace of South Sea pearls. Celebrated for their impressive size and deep, rich luster, South Sea pearls are often the most prized and valuable.

Freshwater Pearls

Cultivated in freshwater lakes and rivers, primarily in China, freshwater pearls boast an array of shapes and colors and often come in at a lower price point, making them a popular choice among jewelry lovers.

What Makes a Pearl Valuable?


There are a handful of key attributes that influence the demand and value of pearls.


Luster: A pearl’s luster refers to its shine and the clarity of its surface reflections. Higher-quality pearls boast sharp reflections and a deep, radiant glow that seems to come from within.

Size: Generally, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it is. This is because larger pearls are rarer and require a longer time to form within the mollusk.

Shape: Round pearls are the most prized for their classic appeal, but the distinctiveness of baroque pearls is increasingly appreciated in modern jewelry.

Color: A pearl’s color can impact its value; beyond classic white, pearls in rare hues like pink, black, gold, and green are particularly sought after.

Surface quality: A smooth, flawless surface typically makes a pearl more valuable, as imperfections can detract from its luster and overall appearance.

Pearls in Fine Jewelry: Designs from Coffin & Trout


Pearls have an inherent versatility that suits a wide range of jewelry pieces. From the classic pearl strand necklace to modern designs that incorporate pearls in innovative ways, the potential to create stunning pieces is limitless.


Here are some of our favorite curated designs:

Interlace Tahitian Pearl and Yellow Gold Ring

Flanked by twinkling diamonds for a classic, opulent look, a luxurious Tahitian pearl with a rich chocolate luster is the star of this yellow gold ring.

Interlace Tahitian Pearl and Yellow Gold Ring

Freshwater Pink Pearl Earrings

Pink freshwater pearls dangle from diamond-studded silver curves, offering a playful yet sophisticated look.

Eternity Tahitian Pearl and Diamond Pendant

This captivating pendant combines the allure of peacock Tahitian pearls with the bold sparkle of color-change garnets and diamonds.

Eternity Tahitian Pearl and Diamond Pendant
Axis South Sea Pearl and Diamond White Gold Pendant

Axis South Sea Pearl and Diamond White Gold Pendant

A single lustrous South Sea pearl hangs from a sleek white gold setting, highlighted by a diamond sparkle for understated elegance.

Explore our complete collection of pearl jewelry, or visit our showroom to create a bespoke piece that speaks to your style.