Blue pearls. Really rare. Right?
The answer to that is both yes..and no. Blue pearls are possible in every pearl type – akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater. But within each type they are ..yes..rare.
Until quite recently akoya pearls were white and round and that was that. Pesky pale pastel colours were bleached and then usually a delicate pink blush was added. That is how akoya pearls had been for decades. Round and white with a hint of pink. Then around five years ago akoya growers and dealers started to notice that freshwater pearls were selling by the hank in natural colours, not dyed or treated. The first natural colour untreated akoya pearls appeared at Hong Kong. They were sort of under the counter or right at the end, sort of an apology, next to the seas of white and round and shiny. They were also very cheap compared to their white relatives.
I had avoided the white and shineys…simply other sellers could hold stocks of all the variations of white, size, grade etc and do it better than me. But these pastel colours, well, that was me and I bought several strands just to see what they were like and if my pearl loving customers would love them. They did. Within a couple of weeks they had all gone. And the same at the next show. By the time around two years ago the akoya wholesalers were well wise to demand and those untreated pastel shades strands had shot up in price
Amongst the other pastel shades were faint blues . really really faint blues. The pearl was feeling-a-bit-chilly faint blue
Then Vietnamese akoya pearls appeared. And boy some of them had the most beautiful and indisputably blue shades of colour
I looked for the non-round strands and the baroque single undrilleds
One of the things I noticed last March in Hong Kong was a few – a very few- freshwater blue pearls. Blue pearls have been foreshadowed by the blues in ripple pearls for a couple of years. Some ripples have displayed patches of strong blue colour but blue freshwater pearls. That is something quite quite new.
I saw only a few, and then not really strong blue, as in the blue of facebook, for example, but in terms of gentle but definite blue – here is an example
There are, of course, still dyed blue freshwater pearls around, but, in a huge evolution to the market in the last few years, and apart from greys and blacks, it is really rare to see the sort of garish dyed colours so common before. (and if we do see them at wholesale they are probably very old and dusty stock)
Tahitian black pearls are, of course, never black. Mostly they are greens, but very very occasionally there is a blue one. Often the blue is a patch, almost just a glimpse in a peacock effect on a green pearl, or a shimmer of overtone from a certain angle, but just occasionally a really individual oyster manages a true blue pearl such as the one shown here.
Blue South Sea Pearls
Blue pearls from the south seas are perhaps the pearls we all think of when we think ‘blue pearls’. They are nearly the rarest of the south sea colours (the greens which are actually blues with organic reside inside (!) are probably the very rarest) and hauntingly beautiful. They come in shades from the palest blue – almost just a blush, to a deep dusty blue, but Royal Air Force uniform blue is the usual shade.
So, there we go. Blue pearls are possible in all pearl types. But as colours go, they are the exception rather than the rule.