File this one under tips for how to shop for pearls!
There are no natural existing Freshwater Black Pearls. Any black, freshwater pearls on the market have been dyed!
Many times you will find pearl companies selling freshwater black pearls. Now I have told y'all all about the amazing pearl adventure travels to French Polynesia for black pearls. I love black pearls!!
Freshwater black pearls are not the same as Tahitian black pearls. Freshwater black pearls are simply freshwater pearls that have been dyed black. Here is how we know (without even looking at them!)
It is All in the Shell!
Remember that 98% of the world's freshwater pearls come from China. Remember, also, that a mollusk can only produce pearls within the range of colors of its shell.
So, Chinese freshwater mollusks range from pink to peach to mauve to white. You will only find natural colored freshwater pearls in that range. I hold space for the very rare freshwater black pearl that will be one day discovered on some river and make someone tons of money. There MIGHT be a freshwater black pearl somewhere, someday.
But, if you are looking at pearls currently on the market and for sale to all of us, you will not find a naturally colored freshwater black pearl. Or, I feel called to say, you will not find a freshwater pearl whose native color is black. There certainly might be someone dying pearls with "all-natural" dye and calling it a naturally colored black pearl. Right? You never know!
It is well known that certain treatments may be done to pearls to enhance their beauty after they have been harvested, this includes anything from cleaning pearls to heating them in a mild bleach bath to whiten the white pearls.
If pearls are dyed, they are subject to the same treatments and then they are simply immersed in dye. Usually, the pearl company will drill the holes in the pearls first and then place them in dye for three to four weeks.
Some companies use a simple dye while others use silver nitrate which is an inexpensive salt of silver. It can be prepared by reacting silver with nitric acid. It is water soluble and stable to light and it is used because with brief exposure it will color pearls purple, brown or black.
Do you know the trend of opening oysters and finding a cranberry, green or golden pearl inside? Yes, those are wildly colored freshwater pearls that have been implanted in those oysters for entertainment purposes. Those are not genuine colored pearls. (And, I apologize if you came across one of those sellers calling themselves a Pearl Girl. Unfortunately, some people use our trademarked name!)
There is room in the market for these colored pearls. First and foremost, a freshwater black pearl will cost significantly less than a saltwater black pearl. They are a great alternative as we save up for the real deal!
Plus, colored pearls can be so much fun! They are sometimes mixed with colored beads and they can make for real statement pieces. I am not criticizing these colored pearls, I just want you to be informed as a consumer!
There is one more thing to keep in mind.
Although some people think that freshwater is synonymous with "not round," this is simply not true! Sure, there are many irregularly shaped freshwater pearls (they don't have that beautiful round nucleus like saltwater pearls!) but there are many absolutely gorgeous, over-the-top beautiful, high quality freshwater pearls.
I know, because we sell them! Just because you find freshwater black pearls that are round, this does not mean that they are something different. These will still fall under the category of a colored pearl, the pearl company simply dyed their round freshwater pearls.
Look out for my post on Tahitian Pearls versus Freshwater Black Pearls for more info!