Pearls have a long and illustrious history in the UK, where they’ve been a favourite of royalty and celebrities.

Buying pearls online has become incredibly simple due to the ability to compare prices and styles from all around the world while sitting at home. However, how do you know you are purchasing from a reliable website if it’s that easy to find affordable pearls?

Types of pearls and their characteristics

When most people think of pearls, they see the traditional, creamy, white, flawless spheres decorating the necks of high-society ladies. In reality, many pearls vary in colour, size, form, and origin – they aren’t all round and creamy!

Natural pearls have become rare over the years as we have collected them as fast as we could. In reality, the great majority of pearls on the market today are what we call “cultured pearls”, meaning they were produced solely via human involvement. They are still genuine pearls, but they do not form in nature.

Types of Pearls

Akoya Pearl

When most people think of pearls, they probably think of Akoya pearl, a distinctive rich white lustre unique to this species. The Pinctada fucata martensii saltwater oyster, found in the colder coastal seas of Japan, Vietnam, and southern China, is used to cultivate Akoya pearls.

Japan has always been the world leader in Akoya pearl cultivation, providing the most high-quality specimens. While most Akoya pearls are white, some have golden or silvery-blue undertones. Akoya pearls are usually 2mm to 9mm in size, with the largest and most expensive reaching up to 10mm.

Freshwater pearl

As the name implies, this pearl is produced within freshwater mussels rather than saltwater molluscs, which provide saltwater pearls. They are the most common and least expensive pearls on the market. However, some high-quality pieces can reach a high price.

These pearls are mainly from China and come in a wide range of colours – they are typically available in pastel colours such as peach, lavender, pink, and white. They are frequently coloured with various dyes to enhance or modify their appearance. Because of their dazzling violet iridescence, freshwater pearls painted black are known as “Peacock pearls”.  They can usually have diameters ranging from 2mm to 12mm, with new types reaching 15mm.

Tahitian pearl

Tahitian pearls are collected from black-lipped oysters in French Polynesia’s temperate coastal waters. They are famous for being the only naturally occurring “black pearls” with a lustrous, metallic grey colour. Darker pearls are less frequent than lighter pearls command a higher price.

They are valued for their colour and size, ranging from 8mm to 15mm. Tahitian black pearls bigger than 15mm are extremely rare and expensive. Tahitian pearls smaller than 0.8mm are not suitable for export.

South Sea Pearl

These highly desired treasures are the most famous and expensive variety of pearls. Part of their uniqueness is grown in the infamous “coral triangle” section of treacherous water that lies between Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The area is known for sharks and pirates (yes, actual pirates).

South Sea pearls range from 8 to 20 mm, with larger pearls costing tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on the type of oyster they develop, they can be silky white, sleek silver, pastel pink, or rich gold.

Characteristics of Pearls

Pearls, like humans, are one-of-a-kind; you can’t find two that are identical, which makes shopping for them even more exciting. There are five fundamental characteristics of pearls: Luster, shape, size, colour and surface.


This one is the most significant of the five qualities, most likely because it is the most noticeable trait you see from a distance. It almost demonstrates the beauty and depth of the pearl.


There are many various shapes of pearls, for example, round, baroque, oval, button, mabe, teardrop, and rice.

  • Round pearls: The most favoured and precious pearls used mainly in necklaces. Before the availability of cultured pearls, creating a matching necklace took years. Luckily, necklaces full of identical pearls are now easy to manufacture due to their accessibility.
  • Baroque pearls: Odd-shaped pearls, also known as irregular or potato-shaped pearls. The shape ranges from spherical to irregular shape. They are almost as beautiful as round pearls.
  • Oval pearls: These are simply oval – resembling an egg. They look great tied together in a necklace.
  • Button pearls: They are circular but also flat. They look round and can be used in beautiful necklaces.
  • Mabe pearls: They have a circular top and flat side making them ideal for earrings and pins.
  • Teardrop pearls: These are ideal for drop necklaces and dangling earrings.
  • Rice pearls resemble rice crispies and are typically used on twisted strands or in combination with other gemstones.


We measure the size of pearls in millimetres. Typically, the greater the size, the higher the price. However, this depends on various factors. The most frequent size is 7mm-7 ½ mm.


The colour of freshwater pearls includes peach, black (dyed), purple, white, and pink. If you want a fully matching set, you should buy coloured earrings and bracelets together with a necklace.


Your pearls might be flawless or have tiny “pits” or rings around them. Most pearls – even the highest grade ones, have some flaws and imperfections. Unless they are very noticeable, these features do not lower their appearance and value.

What goes well with pearls

It may seem challenging to match accessories with a pearl necklace – they are truly unique, so not everything goes well with them. You can’t go wrong with other matching pearl jewellery for formal outfits. Simple designs, such as stud or teardrop earrings, enable the gemstones colour, shape, and brilliance to take centre stage. 

You can choose stones that match the colours of your outfit, and again, keep it simple with single-stone or cluster stud earrings.

In terms of metals, the best option will be determined by the colour and type of pearls. In most cases, gold complements pearl necklaces by emphasising the warmth of white, cream, and yellow pearls. A gold bracelet or ring is the ideal jewellery piece for a pearl necklace.

Celebrities & pearl jewellery

Pearls and celebrities complement each other like cheese and wine or Rome and Juliet. Pearls have recently witnessed a comeback in popularity due to many celebrities started to fancy these gorgeous gems. Pearl necklaces, pearl earrings, and pearl decorations are no longer regarded old fashioned or forgotten but are once again at the rise of jewellery design trends.

Kate Middleton

Starting with everyone’s favourite female royal – HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, appears to have been born to wear pearls. Pearls have always been connected to elegance and grace and are ideal for beautiful and fashionable ladies.

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson is unquestionably the girl with the pearl earrings and the pearl necklace. It’s world-known that this gorgeous actress is obsessed with pearls, and we can’t blame her. We believe that she looks stunning with these magnificent stones, whether she’s wearing a multi-strand choker/lariat hybrid necklace or posing for elegant Russian Vogue photos wearing pearl-encrusted skirts.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina is well known and adored all over the globe for her elegance and sense of style – everyone loves her excellent choice of pearl necklaces and earrings. She wears pearls with ease, and we adore her matching pair of teardrop pearl necklaces and pearl earrings.


When Rihanna stepped on stage at Victoria’s Secret Fashion show in pearl sunglasses and a 5-strand pearl necklace in 2012, the world fell in love with pearls all over again. This renowned singer, who is already well-known for her fashion style, has been stunning with these charming tiny jewels.

Where to buy pearl jewellery

We’ve compiled a list of our top six sites to purchase pearls online in the UK. Customer service, pricing points, variety, customer propositions, and online experience were the factors of our finest pearl shops selection.

Pearls Only

Pearls Only has an extensive range of pearls ranging from freshwater pearls to Chinese and Japanese Akoya pearls. Not only can you select what type of pearl you want, but you can also select from a variety of hues, such as bright yellow south sea, romantic lavender, and dark jet-black pearls. Check out their Black Label line, which has delicate patterns in pearls.

Each page on Pearl Only website has a selection menu, allowing you to browse by product category, jewellery colours and by pearl diameter size and quality. This search function leads the consumer in terms of price and quality, allowing them to receive the best product they are searching for.

The Pearl Source

The Pearl Source is an American company that has been in business for 30 years. They also sell most of their items on Amazon and also appear on the UK market.

This site sells all of the main types of pearls and has reasonable prices on all of its items. The Pearl source works as a wholesaler, serving the market’s top pearl jewellers. They can also offer exceptional prices to their retail consumers.

Absolute Pearls

Absolute Pearl is an online shop that specialises in pearls and only pearls. Their philosophy is to bring delight to as many people as possible through their pearls. Absolute Pearls has reasonable and budget-friendly prices because they sell only online and keep their expenses low.

They also sell sets of pearls, so you can easily match your earrings to your necklace without any problems. For that extra jewellery shopping experience, their jewellery is delivered in a lovely wooden gift box.

Jewel Street

Jewel Street is well-known for its carefully chosen range of expensive designers. They have established themselves as the go-to internet place for purchasing designer jewellery straight from the creator.

Jewel Street’s reputation as a dependable and trustworthy firm makes them an excellent purchasing option. They take pride in not just locating one-of-a-kind jewellery that you won’t find anywhere else but also in providing flawless customer service. That includes handling import duties and employing their couriers to deliver your new jewellery to you.

Mikimoto UK

Kokichi Mikimoto was the first person to develop a cultivated pearl, and in 1914 he established his own Black South Sea Pearl Farm. What was once a solution to inexpensive pearl jewellery has recently become a synonym for high-end costly pearl jewellery, but if you want to acquire a genuinely unique piece of pearl jewellery, go no further than Mikimoto.

Coleman Douglas Pearls

Their distinctive pearl clasp has become so famous that it has become a part of their brand. The clasp is subtle and fashioned of pearl, so your necklace seems to be a continuous strand of pearls. Each item is given a detailed description, including a grade for pearl lustre, nacre, and surface. That allows you to quickly compare several designs and select the pearl element that is most important to you.