One of the most common questions customers ask us is "Are Cultured Pearls Real?". The answer is - absolutely YES! There are two common terms used to describe real pearls - Cultured and Natural. Let's discuss each one in a bit more detail.
All natural pearls are real, but not all real pearls are natural. Ok so you're probably thinking what in the world does that mean? The term "natural" when used to describe pearls means that the pearl was found in the wild. No human intervened in the pearl production process. Something (like a small living organism) invaded the oyster or mollusk shell and the oyster then began to secrete nacre around it until one day someone plucked it from the ocean floor. Natural pearls are extremely rare and very valuable (AKA expensive). Real Deal Pearls has a small number of natural Conch pearls for sale.
Now, all cultured pearls are real, but not all real pearls are cultured. Same concept applies here. The term cultured means that the pearls were farmed. A skilled technician performs surgery on the oyster or mollusk to jump start the pearl production process. Some are tissue nucleated (cultured freshwater - like those found in the pearl party oysters and Hypriosis cumingii mussel AKA monster oyster) and some are bead nucleated (cultured Akoya, cultured South Sea, cultured Cortez, cultured Tahitian, cultured bead nucleated freshwater AKA Ripple, Edison, Kasumi).
It is important to note that the word natural is also used to describe colors. So if you hear someone say it's a natural cultured freshwater, or a natural cultured Tahitian, that likely means that the color has not been enhanced or changed using treatment or dye. Tahitians come naturally in silver, pistachio, nearly black, peacock or aubergine. Chocolate is a very rare (can't stress that enough) natural Tahitian color - many of the chocolate Tahitians on the market have been treated with bleach and/or dye. Tahitians that are naturally brown are extremely expensive.
Finally, no synthetic pearl is real and no real pearl is synthetic. Synthetic pearls (Majorca, Swarovski, glass, plastic, "shell pearls" etc.) are not pearls at all. Identifying these fakers will be a post for another day.
I hope this very brief introduction to "real pearls", "natural pearls" and "cultured pearls" helps you.