Red Freshwater Pearls: All You Need to Know

Are you looking for a way to create elegant and sophisticated jewelry that doesn’t break the bank? If so, there is a great way for you to do so. Red freshwater pearls add a nice touch to any style and can be used to create a variety of jewelry. You can find these pearls in various shades of red, as well as different sizes.

freshwater pearls

How Are Freshwater Pearls Created?

Nature creates freshwater pearls in mussels the same way saltwater pearls are created in oysters. Some foreign object, sometimes a parasite and sometimes a sharp piece of material, enters inside the mussel’s shell and can’t be expelled. Foreign objects are irritating to the animal, so it coats it with a substance called nacre. This secretion eventually forms a pearl.

Pearl producers culture the pearls by artificially introducing a foreign object into the mussel’s shell.



The Chinese and Pearl Production

The Japanese produced the first true cultured pearls in the 1930s, called Biwa pearls after Lake Biwa where they were first created. However, later in the 20th century, the Chinese began revolutionizing the freshwater pearl market.

In the 1990s China began selling round, white freshwater pearls, indistinguishable from the best Japanese saltwater pearls but at a tenth of the price.

Today, the Chinese are the world’s largest producer of freshwater pearls.



Bleaching and Dyeing

The Arabs used to sun-bleach their pearls, then polish and dye them. The Chinese often bleach their pearls to make them even whiter than occurs naturally and to make them more uniform in size. The Chinese do this by using a mild bleach, fluorescent lights, and heat to create the most uniform white color and size possible.

A few decades ago, the Chinese exported dyed pearls in red, blue, yellow, and other colors. This was not really an attempt at falsifying a red freshwater pearl, but rather an attempt to create uniform strands of the same color and size.

freshwater pearl

Grading Pearls

The pearl industry has no set grading standard. You are at the mercy of the retailer regarding the quality of the merchandise.

However, there are two widely accepted grading systems: one called the AAA-A system and the other the A-D system.

The AAA-A system has three tiers: Grade A being the lowest grade given to a pearl, and AAA being the highest. A Grade A pearl has a few visible flaws and a dull sheen. The Grade AAA pearls have high luster and about 85% clear of any defect.

The A-D system, also known as the Tahitian system, considers a Grade A pearl as the most flawless, and Grade D having significant defects and unusable by most jewelers.

Buyers need to discuss the grading system used by their supplier before selecting their pearls.



Red Freshwater Pearl Shades

Red freshwater pearls come in numerous red hues. You can find them in very light tones to deep red ones. These pearls are often dyed, as the Chinese used to do in the 1980s, though in much more garish shades of red to help create these unique colors.

These red shades include everything from copper to ruby, and these unique and colorful pearls add a sophisticated and chic look to almost any style.



Small Freshwater Pearls

Tiny freshwater pearls are perfect for jewelry pieces like bracelets and necklaces. These small freshwater pearls also come in various shades of red, as well as many other different colors, including white and orange.

Small freshwater pearls can come in sizes as small as 2 millimeters. While they might be small, that doesn’t mean these beautiful pearls don’t shine.



What You Can Do with Red Freshwater Pearls and Small Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are durable. They won’t break easily, which makes them ideal to use for crafting jewelry or embellishing outfits.

They are available in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, which allows them to be used for all types of jewelry, from statement pieces to delicate bracelets like this gorgeous 10 minutes to craft bracelet.

 Young jewelry designer making jewelry in her workshop

You can also mix red freshwater pearls with other gemstones to help give your jewelry piece a distinctive look. Use a red freshwater pearl as a focal bead and string black gemstone beads around it for a striking necklace to accent your favorite little black dress!

Besides jewelry, these small freshwater pearls are sometimes incorporated into fabric designs. You can weave these small pearls into the fabric to create a textured design on shirts, purses, and more.