Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cultured pearl?

It is a pearl produced by the human insertion of a bead, tissue graft or both into the mussel or mollusk.

How long does it take to culture a pearl? 

It varies for the species of mollusk and general farm practices.  On average, Tahitians take from 1.5 to 2 years and South Sea pearls take approximately 2 years.

How do natural and cultured pearls differ? 

Natural  pearls occur without any intervention by humans and are found in both fresh and salt water.  They tend to form more organic and unusual shapes.  Less than 2% are perfect spheres or symmetrical.  Cultured pearls are the result of human intervention: inserting “seeds” (called nuclei) inside a mollusk which are tended to in farms. 

How are pearls measured? 

Size is measured in millimeters.  Round shapes are measured by diameter; other shapes are measured by length, width and depth.  Weight is measured in momme.  Momme is a Japanese unit of measure used in the pearl trade.  One momme equals 3.75 grams.

What is the pricing criteria for pearls? 

Size, shape, cleanliness of surface, orient and luster all determine the pearl’s price.

Is a bigger pearl always more expensive? 

Yes, but only if all other factors are equal:  Lustre, Shape, Surface, Color and in the xcase of beaded cultured pearls, nacre thickness.

Why are South Sea pearls more expensive? 

The larger-than-average size of cultured South Sea pearls is a major factor; another is the tight price and production controls set in place by South Sea producers.

Does Emiko Pearls carry any dyed pearls? 

Unequivocally, absolutely not.

In what colors are Tahitian Pearls available? 

Natural Tahitian Pearls are available in colors from light grey to black with many shades in between and shade can have secondary tones of red, green or pink or mixtures of such.

What colors do Natural South Sea Pearls come in? 

They are available in white, silver, gold, cream and silver-blue with secondary tones of green and pink.

In what colors are Brown or Chocolate Pearls available? 

A full range of colors that are commonly described as brown, bronze, copper, honey, coffee and champagne are available.

What is the availability of chocolate pearls?  

Due to several factors (the process is time-consuming, the end-result color of a pearl is not known until it is finished and demand), finer-quality matched strands are not always available in a specific size or color–many solid and multicolor strands are always available.  Beautifully matched pairs (earrings) and singles (rings and pendants) are always available.  Since their inception and still to this day, only a few hundred pearls (and sometimes even less) are made available each month.

Are your chocolate pearls “natural” in color? 

Chocolate pearls are specially-selected finer quality Tahitian black pearls that have undergone a proprietary subtraction process.  This takes place in a two-step process: first, color is removed from selected finer-quality black Tahitian Pearls in a process similar to bleaching.  In the second step the attained color is stabilized.  No dye or heat is ever used.

Are chocolate pearls color-stable? 


How long have chocolate your chocolate pearls been available to the market? 

Emiko Pearls began carrying Chocolate Pearls in 1999.

How can I tell if a pearl is natural or cultured? 

Unless you find the pearl yourself or if purchased it came with a lab report with certification, assume it is cultured. 

Can I get my pearls certified? 

Yes and we strongly suggest that you do.  The only labs we recommend are Gubelin Gemological Laboratory and the Gemological Institute of America (the world’s foremost authority in gemology).  All of our pearls are certifiable simply as “no color added” or “bleached”.  You may view a sample certificate of one of our strands by clicking the links below.

Gueblin Certificate    GIA certificate