A Quick Guide to Pearl Know-How.


Pearls, pearls and more pearls. Pearls are a lady’s best friend, and as famously said by Coco Chanel, “a woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.” But the catch is, what type of pearls does a woman need? Do you know your pearls? What pearls do you like?

Mother of Pearl vs. Freshwater Pearl, what’s the difference?

At Hiasan, we sell both freshwater pearls and designs that use, “Mother of Pearl”. Mother of Pearl, in essence, is an iridescent substance that is secreted by a mollusc on the inside of its shell. This substance lines the inner wall of the shell and is responsible for protecting the shellfish from abrasions and irritants that make their way into the shell, for example, sand. When such a foreign object enters the shell, the lining protects the shellfish and more iridescent substance is secreted into the cavity, which eventually builds up around the foreign object to form a pearl. This type of pearl is known as a freshwater pearl.

What are my pearls worth?

Mother of Pearl, which simply exists in all shells’ protective lining, is a more commonplace occurrence as compared to the freshwater pearl. Due to this, Mother of Pearl is often less valuable than freshwater pearls. Furthermore, the natural formation of freshwater pearls involves a long process, while Mother of Pearls are often more readily available. This makes Mother of Pearls less valuable than freshwater pearls.

However, Mother of Pearl is more versatile in design because of its natural shape; it lines the shell and therefore covers a larger surface, allowing for more substance to be extracted and used in design work. This is why Mother of Pearl is often used in the design of watch faces for example, whereas freshwater pearls are usually smaller and more spherical in shape and are made into daintier, simpler, jewellery.

So, we have now covered Mother of Pearl and freshwater pearls, but what about cultured pearls? Cultured pearls are created by an oyster farmer under manufactured and controlled conditions- in other words, they are considered man-made pearls and are often less valuable than Mother of Pearl and natural, freshwater pearls.

However, remember ladies, jewellery is never black and white. The value of pearl jewellery depends a lot on the type of pearl, the brand or maker of the item, the design of the piece, and the condition of the piece. So it is always good to know your pearls to be able to make an informed decision!


With Love,