Freshwater Pearls

Where do Freshwater Pearls come from?

Although the traditional source of pearls has been saltwater mollusks, freshwater mussels (which live in ponds, lakes and rivers) can also produce pearls.

Freshwater Pearl Farm Near Zhuji

China has harvested freshwater pearls since the 13th century, and has now become the world's undisputed leader in freshwater pearl production. The first record mentioning pearls in China was from 2,206 BC. The United States was also a major source of natural freshwater pearls, from the discovery of the New World through the 19th century, until over-harvesting and increasing pollution significantly reduced the number of available pearl-forming mussels in the US.

The Appeal of Freshwater Pearls

Generally speaking, Freshwater Pearls are not as round as Saltwater Pearls, and they do not have the same sharp luster and shine as Akoya Pearls.
However, they appear in a wide variety of shapes and natural colors, and they tend to be less expensive than Saltwater Pearls, making them very popular with younger people and designers. Also, because freshwater pearls are solid nacre, they are also quite durable, resisting chipping, wear, and degeneration.

China leads the World in Freshwater Pearl Production

With a total production of 1,500 tons in 2006, China holds a monopoly over the freshwater pearl industry today. Although the birth of the Chinese freshwater pearl industry is traced back to the area around Shanghai, freshwater pearls are now produced in all the surrounding provinces including Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, and Jianxi. Local pearl trade is conducted mainly in the cities of Zhuji (Shanxiahu), Suzhou, Wuxi, Wenling, and Weitang. The largest marketplace for these freshwater pearls is the world's pearl trading hub, Hong Kong.

In their acquisition of freshwater pearls, The Chandler of Pearls  bypasses Hong Kong and acquires their supply directly from Zhuji in the Province of Zhejiang.

YouTube Video