Freshwater pearl farmers just keep reinventing their pearls! As you have already learned, they started as small, wrinkled cuties and have now become one of the most popular pearl varieties due to their beauty, quality and prices.
Freshwater pearls are now produced using many different methods and species of mussels. Most are still only tissue-nucleated (using just mantle tissue), meaning that they are “all-nacre” or “100% pearl” and this is particularly important to some people.
But as you have also learned in this course, many pearl farmers are now inserting shell nuclei and other less common items to produce freshwater pearls. These beaded freshwater pearls are usually larger than tissue-nucleated pearls: you already know these under the commercial names of "Kasumi Pearls", "Ikecho/Fireballs", "Ming Pearls" and "Edison pearls".
The massive yearly production of cultured freshwater pearls (over one thousand metric tons!) means that even if perfectly round, or larger than 12 mm pearls, represent a tiny fraction of a pearl harvest, there will be more than enough of these pearls for most customers willing to purchase them.
Whether they are looking for a traditional white pearl necklace, or a designer piece featuring splashes of color or a unique free-form shape, jewelry stores catering to customers of all kinds will benefit from reserving a spot on their shelves for these beautiful and versatile pearls.
Please remember that, for this -and upcoming- sections we will use the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) Seven Value factors to understand the manner pearl grading is done and you will be able to use this knowledge confidently for yourself and your customers.