There are a lot of mysterious-sounding terms when it comes to pearls, and “overtone” is definitely one of them. So we created this short article to clear up any misunderstandings about pearl overtones, and which one would look the best on you.
Use the links below to skip to different sections of this article, and to see how the most popular white pearl overtones look against different skin tones.
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The three most common overtones you’ll encounter are for white pearls: Rose, Silver and Cream.
These three overtones will be the same for white Japanese Akoya, white Freshwater and White South Sea pearls, although their degrees of intensity will vary from pearl to pearl. Use the slideshow to view each pearl type:
The Mikimoto Pearl Company is known for their traditional Rose overtones, and Tiffany's specializes in Akoya pearls with bright Silver hues.
With White South Sea pearls feature predominately bright Silver Overtones, with some warmer Creamy colors and the most rare Overtone is Rose.
With White Freshwater pearls, you’ll find a lot of Creamy hues and Rose overtones in each harvest, and Silver is the least prevalent.
SILVER is the most popular white pearl overtone. Closest to a true, bright white color, the Silver overtone comes the closest to what most people believe a pearl ”should” look like.
ROSE is the most Traditional White Pearl Overtone. Rose (or rosé as it is also called) features a faint to deep pink blush of color over the white body color of the pearl.
CREAM / IVORY is the Third Most Popular Overtone. And my personal favorite. Cream is best described as a hint of French Vanilla over the white body color of the pearl.
Cultured Tahitian pearls are the naturally black pearls grown in the tropical lagoons and atolls of French Polynesia. Their primary body colors aren’t truly black, but range in color from the palest Silver and Dove Grey to Very Dark Charcoal Grey.
Their secondary overtones are a literal rainbow of colors, but the most famous and popular are Peacock, Silver/Steel and Blue-Green. Other “exotic” and famous overtones are colors like Aubergine (eggplant purple), Cherry, Sky Blue, Pistachio, Chocolate and more.
PEACOCK is a varied mix of Green, Gold and Rose hues, shimmering over either a light or dark grey body color.
SILVER / STEEL Tahitian overtones can best be described as a Silvery-grey to pale white sheen shimmering over a light to dark Charcoal Grey body color. They can also contain hints of Rose or Aquamarine/Green that add a little splash of color to keep it interesting.
BLUE-GREEN Tahitian overtones are the second most-popular and prevalent overtone for Tahitian pearls. Usually mid to strongly saturated, the blue-green overtone is a bright splash of color over a medium to dark Charcoal grey body color.
Golden South Sea pearls can be a little bit tricky for some of us. These naturally-colored pearls feature subtle overtones of Rose, Neutral Gold, Silver, Green/Bronze and Champagne*. These secondary colors shimmer over primary body colors of gold that range from paler 10K gold to the deepest (and orange-y) 24K tones. Deeper and more intense the golden hues are more valuable than paler colors.
NEUTRAL GOLDEN (also known as Yellow) pearl overtones are the most prevalent out of any harvest. They are a secondary, transparent tinge of gold over the primary body color of the pearl (Gold), and so appear that the pearls have no overtone at all.
ROSE overtones on Golden South Sea pearls are a faint blush of pink color over the main Golden body color of the pearls.
GREEN / BRONZE overtones on Golden South Sea pearls are the trickiest of all to wear. They appear as a distinct greenish tinge over the golden body color of the pearl.
*CHAMPAGNE colored Golden South Sea pearls are not really an overtone, they are more of a rare and distinct body color. The Champagne hue is a pale pinkish-peach coloring very reminiscent of a fine champagne.
The pictures below show the three most popular white pearl overtones of Rose, Silver and Cream on various skin tones.
Olive / Tan and Mediterranean Skin Model w/ White Pearl Overtones
White Pearl Overtones on a Fair Skin Model
White Pearl Overtones on African American Model