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Akoya - This is the most familiar type of pearl sold in necklaces. Akoyas from Japan and China are grown in pearl oysters and are known for their shimmering beauty and warm colors, which range from rose, cream and gold, to silvery white and blue/gray.
South Sea - Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in tropical and semi-tropical oysters in the South Seas and around the coast of Australia. Their colors range from silvery white to gold, and they are quite costly due to their size and rarity.
Tahitian Black - Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in black-lipped oysters in French Polynesia. Color range from silvery gray and green to deep purple and black. Their large sizes and unique colors command premium prices.
Mabe - Large, hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shells of oysters rather than in the oysters' bodies. Less expensive than round cultured pearls due to their half-round shape, they are most popular in earrings, rings and brooches.
Freshwater - Pearls cultivated in mussels, not oysters, in freshwater lakes and rivers in China, Japan and the United States. Due to their easy cultivation, freshwaters are fairly inexpensive. Shapes can be freeform, rice shaped, off-round or spherical. Colors range from milky white to peach, pink and lavender.
Keshi - Also known as seed pearls, these tiny pearls can be as small as a grain of sand and form accidentally in many cultured pearl oysters.
Baroque - Cultured pearls that are irregularly-shaped, yet often lustrous and appealing. Due to their variable shapes, baroque pearls are often less costly than round, cultured pearls.