A Jewelry Maker’s Guide: What Are Keshi Pearls?

One of the great things about being a jewelry maker is having the opportunity to work with all sorts of beautiful materials. There are, of course, plenty of beads that are made from synthetic materials like glass or plastic, but there is something truly remarkable about working with beads made from natural materials from Mother Earth.

If you are someone who enjoys the beauty and sophistication of pearls, working with keshi pearls is a way to bring the elegance of these gemstones to your creations in a unique way. While the mention of pearls normally brings to mind images of perfectly spherical stones in shades of ivory or white, pearls can form in many, many other ways. Keep reading to learn a bit more about what keshi pearls are and how to use them in your designs.

What Are Keshi Pearls?

Generally speaking, pearls form in one of two ways. They form naturally or they form as a result of a process known as culturing. In either case, the resulting stone is “natural.” The difference lies in the process rather than the end product.

flat view keshi black pearls

Keshi pearls are unique because they don’t quite fit the definition of a naturally occurring pearl or a cultured one. They form as a stunningly beautiful by-product of the standard pearl culturing process. They are not created intentionally, though, and by definition, a cultured pearl is created on purpose. Because they form during the culturing process, though, they aren’t exactly a naturally formed pearl, either.

To form cultured pearls, workers place an irritant inside the mantle of a pearl-bearing mollusk, such as a mussel or an oyster. Over time, this irritant causes the mollusk to secrete a substance called nacre. The nacre builds up in layers around the irritant, eventually forming a pearl.

loose baroque pearls

In some instances, however, a small piece of the nacre breaks free during the pearl-making process. This piece also acts as an irritant inside the mollusk and becomes coated in additional layers of nacre. The resulting unintentional pearl that forms is called a keshi pearl.

It is possible for keshi pearls to form in any type of cultured pearl. They most commonly occur in cultured freshwater pearls; however, they may also form in saltwater pearls. Those found in freshwater pearls tend to be larger and more colorful than their saltwater counterparts.

Keshi pearls are unique for several reasons. For starters, they form entirely from nacre. While materials like sand are often used as the irritant in cultured pearls, the irritant that causes a keshi pearl to form is nacre. For this reason, some people feel that keshi pearls are one of the most natural types. These stones are also prized for their brilliant luster. They tend to be even more lustrous than the highest-quality cultured pearls.

Using Keshi Pearls in Your Jewelry Creations

As a jewelry designer, using keshi pearls in your creations is an excellent way to set yourself apart from other designers. With these unique stones, you can create one-of-a-kind pieces that offer the timeless elegance of pearls with an unexpected twist. Jewelry made using keshi pearls can be used for any occasion, too, and these stones are extremely versatile.

If you are new to working with this particular material, there are a few tips for using keshi pearls that will make it easier for you to create beautiful designs. For starters, consider the color of the pearl when choosing a metal. If the pearl has a brownish or greenish tint, copper is an excellent choice. Silver is a better choice if you are using keshi pearls that are bluish or white in color. Golden, pink and peach pearls are lovely with yellow gold.

Also, keep in mind that the drill holes in keshi pearls are often much smaller than those in gemstone beads. For this reason, silk thread is the most common option for stringing this type of bead. If you need to use wire, 24-gauge is your best option.


keshi tahitian black pearls in oyster

Keshi pearls are a beautiful and unique addition to any collection of jewelry-making supplies. Whether you run a business or you simply enjoy making jewelry for your friends and family, this stone is an affordable and unique way to bring the beauty of pearls to your creations.

Beads of Cambay offers a wide range of keshi pearls for all of your jewelry-making needs. Check out our full collection today, and you will surely find something that catches your eye!