Do You Know the Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Pearls?

Let us try to understand the difference between a Freshwater and Saltwater Pearl in this post. Freshwater pearls are usually grown in mussels which are living in the rivers and lakes. Most of the freshwater pearls come from China.

All saltwater pearls, are created in oceans by oysters and they usually originate from places e.g. Australia, Thailand, Tahiti, Indonesia and among others.

How are saltwater and freshwater pearls created?

Both saltwater as well as freshwater, are not completely natural but cultivated. In other words, a small mollusc tissue piece or a bead that was placed inside the mollusc, covered it with certain nacre makes the pearls.

Usually, the longer to grow any pearl, the better will be the nacre in quality and pearls which are cultured for a longer period can also be more expensive.

How saltwater and freshwater pearls differ


Nacre of freshwater pearls can be thicker and may differ in composition from saltwater pearls. So, freshwater pearls are not so glossy.

However, nowadays with improved farming techniques, both freshwater and saltwater pearls have comparable lustre.


Saltwater pearls’ nacre coatings are thinner than freshwater pearls that are usually made entirely of nacre.

Due to the core piece that is inserted in the freshwater pearls, it is much smaller than which is put in saltwater pearls.

Shape and colour

Freshwater pearls are available in different shapes like round or oval and colours. Usually saltwater pearls are available mostly in round shape.


Freshwater pearls can be cultivated within less than two years and hence, they were much smaller sized and have much inferior nacre coating and shape.

However, recently many producers started growing freshwater pearls by taking 3 -6 years’ time and hence the pearl size and quality are comparable with saltwater pearls.


For several reasons, freshwater pearls are cheaper. Firstly, mussels are larger for freshwater pearls and hence can produce a greater number of pearls at a single time than saltwater oysters.

Also, unlike freshwater pearls, mostly saltwater pearls are round and also have better lustre which is the characteristics that people look for and hence command higher price.