SPECIES/GROUP: Freshwater cultured pearl

CLASSIFICATION: Pearl/Organic gemstone


Cultured pearls are formed in a pearl sac of a mollusc with the intervention of man, making it an artificial process. The modern cultured pearl industry began in the late 1800s and has since developed to produce a range of different pearl types.


The origin of the name is uncertain but is believed to derive from a combination of the Greek-Latin words “perna” (mollusc) and “sphaerula” (sphere).


Virtually all colours, often modified by additional colours called overtones or by adding a pearly lustre. Some pearls also display the iridescent colour phenomenon known as “orient.”


Pandora uses freshwater cultured pearls in a range of jewellery designs, which are cultivated by gently inserting pieces of donor mollusc tissue into a freshwater mussel. The tissue grows to form a pearl-sac in which nacre, mother of pearl, is deposited layer upon layer until a cultured pearl is formed. Like natural pearls, tissue nucleated freshwater cultured pearls consist of nacre all the way through, as they contain no nucleus.



Once harvested, freshwater cultured pearls, with colours other than peach, pink and lavender, are routinely bleached white. Pandora’s freshwater cultured pearls with colours other than white have been dyed.


Freshwater cultured pearls have a hardness of only 2.5-4 on the Mohs scale. They also have variable levels of toughness influenced by ageing, dehydration and sometimes excessive bleaching during processing. This means that freshwater cultured pearls are prone to scratching and are relatively fragile. Freshwater cultured pearls are particularly susceptible to damage caused by acids, solvents and ultrasonic cleaning, and may also have a tendency to dehydrate over time under certain conditions. Some dyed pearls may fade or revert to their original colour when exposed to sunlight or strong light.


Wear freshwater cultured pearls with care. Avoid rough handling and keep away from acids and solvents. Cosmetics should be applied before pearls are worn. For additional care information, please visit our care guide.



A cultured pearl is created in the same way as a natural pearl, with layers of nacre coating an irritant. However, a cultured pearl is started by human intervention, unlike a natural pearl. The molluscs are carefully implanted by skilled pearl technicians and, after the process is completed, they are put into nets and submerged into the lakes surrounding the farm. The longer the molluscs are left alone, the larger the pearl will grow. A freshwater mussel can create up to 50 cultured pearls at a time.

Learn more about other stone assortments