Pearl Colors – Your Guide to Choosing Perfect Pearls

Pearls offer an astonishing array of colors for everyone to love. From classic white Akoya pearls to jet black Tahitian pearls, silver and gold South Sea pearls and even deep shades of lavender to yes, even blue!

Use the Table of Contents below to navigate this article to view pictures and descriptions of the most common pearl colors.

White Pearls

Whether it’s the iconic white Akoya pearl, or glamorous white South Sea pearls, white pearls have been the “It Pearl” for literally centuries. Women and men have worn and loved white pearls because of their subtle elegance and versatility.

White Pearl Fast Facts

  • White Pearl Types:  White Akoya, White South Sea and White Freshwater pearls.
  • Common Overtones:  You’ll see Rose (a hint of pink), Cream/Ivory (think a tint of French Vanilla) and Silver (closest to a true, bright white).
  • Sizes:  White pearls can be as small as 1.0-2.0mm seed pearls, up through the very largest 20.0mm sizes.
  • Fun Fact: The color white is associated with purity, which is why pearls have traditionally been worn by brides.

  • White Akoya Pearls
  • White Freshwater Pearls
  • White South Sea Pearls
Pearl Colors: White Akoya Pearls

White Akoya pearls are the most popular white pearl type of all.

Cultured in Japan, China and sometimes Vietnam using the Pinctada fucata martensii saltwater oyster.Akoya pearls range in size from 2.0-3.0mm up to 9.0-9.5mm (and rarely 9.5-10.0mm).

Popular overtones are:  Rose - warm to cool hint of pink (most popular), Silver - bright, cool white and Cream / Ivory - warm hint of French Vanilla

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Pearl Colors: White Freshwater Pearls

White Freshwater pearls are the second most popular white pearl type.

Cultured in China using the Hyriopsis cumingii pearl mussel, Freshwater pearls range in size from 2.0-3.0mm up to 11.0-12.0mm and sometimes larger.

Popular overtones are:  Rose - warm to cool hint of pink, Silver - bright, cool white and Cream / Ivory - warm hint of French Vanilla.

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Pearl Colors: White South Sea Pearls

White South Sea pearls are the third most popular pearl type - and the most expensive.

Cultured in Australia using the silver-lipped Pinctada maxima saltwater oyster, these luxurious pearls range in size from 8.0-9.0mm through 15.0-16.0mm and larger.

Popular overtones are:  Rose - warm to cool hint of pink (and the most rare),Silver - bright, cool white (most prevalent) andCream / Ivory - warm hint of French Vanilla

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Black Pearls

Dark and exotic, black pearls have captured the imagination of men and women around the world for centuries. A hundred times more rare than white pearls, black pearls have been imbued with all kinds of mythical properties and lore.

Black Pearl Fast Facts

  • Black Pearl Types:  The only naturally-colored cultured black pearls are black Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia and Sea of Cortez pearls from Guyamas, Mexico. Black Akoya and Black Freshwater pearls are also available, but are color-treated (usually dyed) to reach their darker hues.
  • Common Overtones:  The most common overtones for black pearls are Peacock (Green, Gold and Rose mixture), Green, Blue-Green, Rose, Silver, Copper and Aquamarine. Intensities and hues vary - quite a lot.
  • Sizes:  Generally Tahitian and Sea of Cortez pearls range from 8.0mm up through 16.0mm and higher.
  • Did You Know:  Polynesian lore describes the god Ono coming down from the heavens on a rainbow to gift his beloved princess the first black pearls. The pearls were imbued with the colors of his magical rainbow.

  • Black Tahitian Pearls
  • Sea of Cortez Pearls
  • Black Akoya Pearls
  • Black Freshwater Pearls
Pearl Colors: Black Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian pearls are one of only two naturally-colored black pearls in the world.

Tahitian pearls are cultured in the Pinctada margaritifera saltwater pearl oyster in French Polynesia, and range in size from 8.0-9.0mm through 14.0-15.0mm and larger. The pearls feature primary body colors ranging from pale dove grey to dark charcoal grey to near jet black hues.

Popular overtones are: Peacock, Cherry, Blue-Green, Neutral Silver/Steel and more.

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Pearl Colors: Black Sea of Cortez Pearls

Sea of Cortez pearls are the only other naturally-colored "black" pearls in the world.

Cultured in Guyamas, Mexico, they're also the most rare cultured pearl type today. Sea of Cortez pearls are cultired in the Ptera sterna, the Rainbow-lipped saltwater oyster. Sea of Cortez pearls also feature primary body colors of pale to dark greys.

Overtones: unique to this pearl type include Blue-Green, Rose, Violet, Green, Gold, Mink, Mauve and more.

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Pearl Colors: Black Akoya Pearls

Black Akoya pearls are color-treated / dyed.

Cultured in Japan and China using the Pinctada fucata martensii saltwater oyster, Black Akoya pearls range in size from 6.0-6.5mm through 7.5-8.0mm. The pearls will always be sourced from AA+ Quality lots.Black Akoya pearls are easily distinguished by their near jet-black and very uniformly matched body colors.

Overtones are: Midnight Blue to Greenish Blue-Black.

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Pearl Colors: Black Freshwater Pearls

Black Freshwater pearls are color-treated, usually dyed.

Cultured in China using the Hyriopsis cumingii pearl mussel, Freshwater pearls range in size from 6.0-7.0mm up to 8.0-9.0mm. Any quality Freshwater pearl can be selected for the color-treatment process, soyou'll find A-AAA Quality Black Freshwater pearls available.

Popular overtones are: Iridescent "Peacock", Blue-Green, Denim Blue, Violet and Copper

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Golden Pearls

Opulent, luxurious and best of all, naturally colored, Golden South Sea pearls are some of the largest and rarest cultured pearls in the world. Ranging in color from pale Champagne to intense 24K golden hues, these cultured pearls hail from the tropical lagoons and atolls of the Philippine Islands and Australia.

Fast Facts for Golden Pearls

  • Common Overtones:  You’ll encounter Neutral (Yellow) Gold, Silver, Rose, Green/Bronze and Champagne overtones.
  • Sizes:  South Sea pearls range from 9.0mm up through 16.0mm sizes and higher.
  • Golden Pearl Lore:  Golden pearls are said to imbue their owner with wealth and prosperity. The Chinese often depicted their dragons (said to be harbingers of great luck) bearing golden pearls in their mouths or claws.

  • 14K Gold Pearls
  • 18K Gold Pearls
  • 22K Gold Pearls
  • Champagne Pearls
Pearl Colors: 14K Medium-Gold South Sea Pearls

Golden South Sea pearls with 14K Golden body colors are considered a "Medium-Tone" Golden hue.

Pearls featuring the 14K Medium-Deep Golden hue are among the most common body colors available today. Shimmering with Neutral Gold or Rose overtones, these Golden pearls look great on the largest array of complexions.

Pearl Colors: 18K Medium-Deep Golden South Sea Pearls

The 18K Golden Tone is considered a "Medium-Deep to Deep" Golden color.

Golden South Sea pearls with an 18K Golden hue is the color PurePearls.com stocks the most of.

Pearl Colors: 22K - 24K Deep-Golden South Sea Pearls

The 22K to 24K Golden tone is a "Very Deep" natural Golden color.

Golden South Sea pearls featuring the 22K to 24K hues are the rarest and most valuable (all other factors being equal).

Pearl Colors: Champagne South Sea Pearls

Champagne Golden South Sea pearls are very rare.

The Champagne color is a mix of very pale, 10K gold, Silver and Rose hues. It is a very light color, very unique and rare (and great for us blondes!).



Pink and Peach Pearls

Naturally colored pink to peach pearls are cultured in the Freshwater pearl mussel, Hyriopsis cumingii (along with various hybrid mussels bred to produce unique colors and sizes) in freshwater aquaculture ponds on China. Each Freshwater pearl mussel can be nucleated up to 25 times on each side of the shell, making for a stunningly colorful harvest.

Pink to Peach Pearl Fact Sheet

  • Common Overtones:  The most common overtones you’ll see on pink to peach pearls are Aquamarine, Green, Gold and Rose hues.
  • Sizes:  Cultured pink to peach Freshwater pearls range in size from 4.0-12.0mm, with average sizes ranging from 6.0-9.5mm. Newer cultured pearl techniques are producing larger bead-nucleated Freshwater pearls like ‘Edison’ pearls that routinely measure 14.0-16.0mm on average!
  • Recommended Pairings:  Yellow gold is the most popular and traditional to use with pink to peach Freshwater pearls. It “warms” up the pink and golden hues already present in the pearl’s surface, and enhances their sparkle. White gold is less often used, but is an interesting and unique pairing with pastel baby to deeper pink colors, and can boost any Aquamarine to Green overtones present on the pearls.

  • Pink to Peach Pearls
  • Pink Pearls
  • Peach Pearls
Pearl Colors: Pink to Peach Freshwater Pearls

Candy-colored Pink and Peach pearls are Freshwater pearls cultured in China, and are 100% natural.

They range from pale peach to apricot (orange-ish) to pale baby pinks and deeper true-pink hues. Silvery-pinks and mauves are also included in this gorgeous palette.

Pearl Colors: Pink Freshwater Pearls

Pink Freshwater pearls range from pastel baby pinks to deeper hot pinks and corals.

Pearl Colors: Peach Freshwater Pearls

Peach Freshwater pearls range from pale peaches to deeper orangey and apricot colors.



Lavender Pearls

Naturally colored Lavender Freshwater pearls are cultured in the Freshwater pearl mussel, Hyriopsis cumingii. These large pearl mussels are bred and cared for in freshwater aquaculture ponds and lakes in China. Nucleated up to 25 times per each side of its shell, a Freshwater pearl harvest is a very colorful affair, yielding shades of Lavender, Pink, Peach and White pearl colors.

Lavender Pearl Fast Facts

  • Common Overtones:  The most common overtones you’ll notice on Lavender Freshwater pearls will be cooler shades of Aquamarine and Green. Warmer shades of Gold and Rose can also be observed.
  • Sizes:  Common Freshwater pearls range in size from 4.0-12.0mm, with an average size of 6.0-9.5mm found in most jewelry stores today. Ultra-large pearls ranging from 13.0-16.0mm are now coming onto the pearl markets in the form of ‘Edison’ pearls which are bead-nucleated.
  • Recommended Pairings:  White gold is the most popular and traditional choice for pairing with Lavender pearls – it cools the pearls down and enhances their lovely Blue, Aquamarine and Green overtones. Yellow gold creates a high contrast between the pearls and their clasps or mountings which is visually eye-catching, and can help enhance any Gold or Rose overtones present.

  • Deep to Pale Lavender Pearls
  • Deep Lavender Pearls
  • Pale Lavender Pearls
Pearl Colors: Lavender Freshwater Pearls

Delicate to deeper shades of Lavender are a natural color seen only in cultured Freshwater pearls from China.

The colors can present as pale lilac to silvery-purple to deeper lavender and do include mauve tones as well.

Pearl Colors: Deep Lavender Freshwater Pearls

The deepest shades of Lavender Freshwater pearls are no-doubt-about purple colors.

These natural colors range from dark lilac to even deeper lavender hues. Typical overtones will be pastel Aquamarine, Silver and Rose.

Pearl Colors: Pale Lavender Freshwater Pearls

The paler shades of Lavender range from a dirty-rose mauve color to pastel lilac.

Typical overtones will be pastel Green, Gold, Aquamarine or Rose.



Blue Pearls

Perhaps the rarest and most unique pearl color of them all, true blue pearls are one of the wonders of the world. Naturally blue-colored pearls come in astonishing array of hues from pastel Sky Blue to dark Midnight Blue colors, with an even wider array of dazzling overtones.

Blue Pearl Fast Facts

  • Blue Pearl Types:  Naturally colored blue pearls are a special rarity, available only in blue Akoya, Silver-Blue White South Sea, Tahitian or Sea of Cortez pearl types.
  • Common Overtones for Blue Pearls:  True blue Akoya pearls display very strong overtones of Blue, Aquamarine, Rose and Violet. Blue-overtoned pearls such as the Tahitian or Sea of Cortez pearl types will feature variations in their overtone range including Green, Blue-Green, Cerulean, Teal, Violet and more.
  • Sizes:  Due to the variety of pearl types that the blue color is available in, the size ranges vary widely. Blue Akoya pearls range from 7.5-9.5mm on average. Silver-blue White South Sea pearls range from 9.0-16.0mm and larger. Blue colored Sea of Cortez pearls have a small range from 8.0-11.0mm, and Tahitian pearls can range from 8.0-14.0mm.
  • Interesting Blue Pearl Fact:  Blue Akoya pearls are farmed in Japan and Vietnam; their colors are thought to be the result of a metabolic disorder.

  • Blue Akoya Pearls
  • Blue Tahitians Pearls
  • Blue Sea of Cortez Pearls
  • Silver-Blue South Sea
Pearl Colors: Blue Akoya Pearls

Naturally colored blue Akoya pearls feature blue body colors that range from silvery blue-grey to intense sky blue, and are farmed in Japan and Vietnam.

Pearl Colors: Blue-Overtone Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian pearls are not really "true" blue pearls, but black pearls that can display blue-hued overtones ranging from pale sky blue to intense blue-green or teal overtones.

Sea of Cortez pearls from Guyamas, Mexico are the rarest cultured pearls in the world.

As with Tahitian pearls, they are not "true" blue pearls, but can be black pearls with intensely saturated overtones ranging from aquamarine and blue-green to dark midnight blue (and all shades in between).

Pearl Colors: Blue-Overtone South Sea Pearls

White South Sea pearls have an outstanding Silver-Blue color that’s very distinctive.

They are the largest of all blue colored pearl types, and feature the trademark "satin" luster of South Sea pearls.


Chocolate Pearls

Chocolate pearls became incredibly popular quite recently – designers such as Erica Courtney helped solidify their status as red carpet worthy gemstones. Chocolate Tahitian pearls can be naturally colored or dyed their trademark colors … Guess which ones we prefer.

Quick Facts About Chocolate Pearls

  • Chocolate Pearl Types: Color-treated Chocolate Tahitians, naturally-colored Chocolate Tahitians and dyed Chocolate Freshwater pearls.
  • Chocolate Pearl Overtones: The most popular and common overtones you’ll find are Gold, Rose and subtle tones of Green/Bronze. These colors shimmer over “Dark Chocolate” and “Milk Chocolate” body colors.
  • Sizes: These can range in size from 9.0-14.0mm, but the average size is 10.0-12.0mm.
  • Recommended Pairings: Yellow gold is probably the prettiest pairing for clasps and mountings as it enhances the warmer shades of gold present in the pearls. White gold can be used to create an interesting visual contrast, but care should be taken to pair use pearls with Dark Chocolate body colors and Greenish overtones.

Pearl Colors: Chocolate Tahitian Pearls



Multi-Colored Pearls

The term ‘Multi-color’ refers to a layout design rather than a pearl color, and can be composed of Freshwater, Tahitian or South Sea pearl types.

Multi-Colored Pearls Fast Facts

  • Multi-Color Pearl Types:  Multi-colored Tahitians, Multi-colored South Sea pearls and Multi-colored Freshwater pearls are all available in both round and baroque shapes.
  • Sizes:  These can range in size from 6.0-7.0mm up through 15.0-16.0mm and higher, depending on the pearl type you choose.
  • Recommended Pairings:  Yellow gold is ideal of Multi-colored South Sea pearl necklaces as the clasp won't clash with the Golden South Sea pearls mixed into the layout. For Tahitians, white gold clasps are always popular, especially considering their cooler color spectrum. For warmer Tahitian mixes that feature heavy amounts of green, gold or cherry then consider yellow gold pairings to warm these pearls up! Multi-colored Freshwater pearl necklaces and bracelets could go either way, but I tend to recommend the yellow gold option to enhance the pink and creamy white colors of the pearls and add an extra touch of luxury to the layout.
  • Fun Fact:  Multi-color South Sea pearl necklaces are also known as Pelosi-pearls, named after the woman who wore them as her “trademark jewel”.

  • Multi-Color Tahitian Pearls
  • Multi-Color South Sea Pearls
  • Multi-Color Freshwater Pearls
Pearl Colors: Multi-Color Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian multi-color necklaces are mixes of very light and very dark grey body color pearls with a wide range of overtones.

The resulting necklaces can be very whimsical, artistic and beautiful. Due to the endless variety of color combinations and overtones, Multi-color Tahitian Pearl Necklaces are as unique as their owner - no two are ever exactly the same.

Pearl Colors: Multi-Color South Sea Pearls

Multi-color South Sea Pearl Necklaces are traditionally mixes of White and Golden South Sea pearls.  

Occasionally these Multi-color necklaces are mixed with Tahitians or even pastel Pink or Lavender Freshwater pearls for added whimsy or dramatic flair.

Pearl Colors: Multi-Color Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater Multi-color necklaces and bracelets feature a mix of White, Lavender and Pink or Peach pearls.

These layouts are arranged in various combinations. No two necklaces or bracelets are ever exactly the same!

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