The Pearl Glossary - Your guide to all terms Pearl related

With so many types of pearls out there, I bet there’s a phrase or two that seem unfamiliar. Every wondered what these terms mean? I’ve put together a pearl glossary for easy reference.


Abalone - The shell of marine snail known for its iridescence and unique blue-green coloring and unique swirl patterns. A favorite for stud earrings at Pyrite and Pearls  


Akoya Pearls - Saltwater Japanese pearls that are famed for their superior luster. These pearls were the first to be cultured. 


Baroque Pearls - Pearls that have an undefined shape. These pearls tend to have unique and irregular shapes and offer a more raw and organic looks to jewelry designs. 


Black Pearls - Black or very dark Tahitian pearls with high luster and sheen. These pearls are extremely rare, as black pearls are not naturally produced in other regions. Other black or very dark freshwater pearls are usually dyed or treated in some way. 


Biwa Pearl - Pearls from the Biwa lake in Japan, where freshwater pearls are cultured. Biwa pearls also refer to an elongated stick shaped cultured pearl. Biwa pearls are used in our Ladder Necklace and some earring designs. 


Coin Pearls - Flat or puffed coin shaped cultured freshwater pearls. These come in a variety of colors and are a bestseller at Pyrite and Pearls. Take a look here


Cultured Pearls - Created by introducing an irritant to the mollusk that starts the creation of a pearl, as opposed to the natural process by the which a foreign object naturally entered the mollusk.


Edison Pearls - Another type of freshwater pearl with lovely metallic luster and an almost rippled surface texture. These pearls tend to be on the large size, and more round in shape. The Pearl Cord Necklace uses Edison Pearls. 


Faux Pearls - Imitation pearls that could be glass or plastic. These are made to look like real pearls.


Freshwater Pearl - Pearls created in fresh water, usually cultured. 


Glass Pearls - Glass beads made to resemble natural pearls.


Hand knotting - The preferred stringing method for a strand of pearls, where each pearl is separated by a small knot. This prevents the pearls from scratching against one another and also from loosing more than one or two pearls in case the strand breaks.


Keishi / Keshi Pearls - Keshi pearls are a favorite at Pyrite and Pearls.  The term Keshi comes from the Japanese word keshinomi, meaning poppy seed. Keshi pearls are unique not only because of their raw and organic shapes, but also because of the way they are formed. Keshi pearls are a sort of by-product of pearl creation, where the oyster rejects the bead nucleus but still forms a pearl without the bead nucleus that is pure nacre. Another way keshi pearls are formed is when implanted tissue fractures and forms separate sacs, and the loose tissue forms keshi pearls. Keshi pearls have amazing sheen and natural luster. 


Our best-selling single keshi pearl necklace celebrates our most favorite pearl. 


Mabe Pearls - Also known as Blister Pearls, formed on the shell of the mollusk as opposed to between the tissue.


Majiorca Pearls - Imitation pearls created by coating a glass nucleus with a pearlescent substance. Hailing from Majoirca, Spain, they are made to look like real pearls.


Mikimoto - A reference to Kitchimatsu Mikimoto, known for created cultured Akoya pearls. The pearls created by his method are popularly referred to as Mikimoto pearls.


Mother of Pearl - Iridescent layer lining the inner shell of some mollusks.


Nacre - The coating created by the mollusk on the irritant or bead that creates a pearl is known as nacre.


Natural Pearl - Pearls created naturally by a mollusk without intervention by humans. 


Nugget Pearls - referring specifically to the shape of the pearls. Usually a description of freshwater pearls.


Peacock Pearls - A term given to pearls that are dark purple with green overtones that are usually produced by a black lipped oyster. 


Real Pearls - Referring to pearls that are created in a mollusk in either fresh or salt water, as opposed to faux or glass pearls. 


South Sea Pearls - Pearls that are created in the oceans around Australia and Indonesia. These pearls tend to be among the largest cultured pearls with thick luxurious nacre. 


Tahitian Pearls - Pearls hailing from French Polynesia and Tahiti. These saltwater pearls are usually produced by the black lipped mollusk and are especially iridescent.


Saltwater Pearls - Pearls created in saltwater.


Seed Pearls - Tiny pearls that are less than 2mm in size. These are often used in clothing and embroidery. Our Pearl Bar Necklaces use seed pearls. 


Shell Pearls  - Pearls that are made from reconstituted shell pieces and polymers that look close to real pearls. 


Sweetwater Pearls - Another term for freshwater pearls. 


So there you have it. A list of all the pearl related terms I come across often, or was curious about. Are there other phrases or terms you’re curious about that I might have missed? Let me know! The list is ever-growing!