Freshwater Pearls are cultured and because of their man-made background, are able to be utilized in different ways. Pearl Farmers insert a small piece of shell into the oyster or mussel they want, which is opposed to how some oysters naturally respond to an irritant. This irritates the mollusk into producing natural nacre around the foreign substance and result is a pearl. The Freshwater Pearl, because it has a shell center, has the same luster and shape as a saltwater pearl and grows to completion in less time and with less cost. Since it is manmade, farmers can insert a custom shape that they would like and simply wait for the mussel to create the natural nacre around it. A lot of original and funky designs are the result of this. No matter what, farmers are left with gorgeous pearls that can be drilled, set and made into different shapes. As well, because freshwater pearls are farmed, they can be dyed into various shades and colors.
Square Freshwater Pearls are fantastic for making simple drop earrings. When wearing a fitted suit, they give your ears a subtle flair. Another idea is to put them in between hammered sterling silver soldered rings throughout a necklace or use them in a multi-strand bracelet. Some pearls are even attached to rings in beautiful clusters that look like a flower bouquet.
Coin Freshwater Pearls are great for adding luminescence to any design. Their shape allows them to be easily dropped as charms from simple bracelets. They make easy and original earrings and, when strung beside one another, make a beautiful multi-layered strand.
Keshi pearls happen when the oyster or mussel rejects the nucleus before being cultured to completion. The result are pearls that look like cute cornflakes and look fantastic when mixed with coin crystals and round beads. Also, because one side is concave they look like miniature shells which allow them to be mixed in with real shells or nautical themed pieces.
Biwa pearls are originally from Biwa, Japan but are now mostly farmed in China. A soft-mantle tissue is inserted so that when the oyster or mussel is coating it with nacre, the first couple of layers can vary in shape. This results in a wide variety of different shapes. Common biwa shapes are long and rectangular versus the flat and irregular shape of the Keshi.
These unusual shapes are fantastic when clustered with different materials on a piece. I’ve seen great necklaces and earrings that combined crystals, pearls, and stones. An eye-catching way to use the pearls would be to cluster them with other beads of similar color or shape. Overall, freshwater pearl shapes are a great and affordable way to add different colors and textures to your piece.