What Is A Keshi Pearl?

Types of Pearls
what is a keshi pearl - the pearl girls

This week I am launching the Flashy Splashy Earrings and Necklace, where we pair a 9-10mm keshi pearl with a cz, for a pearl pop of bling! But I know many of you might be wondering… What is a keshi pearl? I am so excited to share more about these uniquely amazing pearls with you!keshi pearl necklace by The Pearl Girls

What’s In a Name?

The word keshi comes from keshinomi, the Japanese word for poppy seed. These are very unique pearls that can be hard to describe. They come in unique shapes and sizes but they are not baroque pearls. Sometimes they look bit flat, other times a bit fat and otherwise they can have an almost wavy like surface texture.

The name keshi originated in Japan to specifically describe small pearls formed by loose tissue in akoya oysters. Akoya oysters are small, the pearls they produce are in the 5mm – 8mm range, so the keshis were even smaller, sometimes minuscule, just like a poppy seed! Nowadays, the term keshi has a broader meaning. The term still describes the pearls produced by loose tissue pieces but keshis can be a variety of sizes and come from any mollusk, not just akoyas!

Tahitian akoya pearls
Tahitian Keshi Pearls

Where Do They Come From?

Keshi pearls can come from everywhere! There are Tahitian keshis, South Sea keshis, freshwater keshis and more. Anywhere in the world that is culturing pearls can produce a keshi pearl. But, there is something funny about keshis. Even though keshis are produced at cultured pearls farms, they are not cultured pearls! Keshis are in a class all their own. When I traveled to The Philippines, I harvest a Golden South Sea keshi!

Pearl Farming in The Philippines -look a keshi pearl
Mollusk tissue that forms Keshi Pearls

How Are Keshis Formed?

In a cultured pearl farm, an oyster is nucleated with a piece of tissue and a bead. Out of this combination, a pearl sac is formed and the bead serves as the nucleus of the culture pearl. If the mollusk expels the bead, or the tissue piece and bead separate, nacre will not form around the bead, and the loose tissue piece might produce a keshi pearl instead.

keshi pearls like corn flakes - the pearl girls

No Nucleus

This is what makes keshis unique, they are formed without a nucleus. Is is also possible to There is no nucleus inside of a keshi pearl. This leads some people to mistakenly call them natural pearls, since, in many ways they form on their own. However, it is a mistake to call them natural pearls.  They are also not cultured pearls. But, without the cultured pearl industry, keshis would not exist.

examples of keshi pearls

Chinese Keshis

In China some pearl farmers attempt to create a second harvest of pearls. Second harvests are common in saltwater productions. But, in freshwater Chinese harvests, it is more difficult because many of the mollusks die when the first pearls are harvested. But, let’s say, the mollusk survives and farmers want to nucleate the mollusk a second time.

One mollusks has multiple pearl sacs and the Chinese farmers have many pearl producing options. Farmers may renucleate the mollusk with a coin shape bead, therefore making a coin pearl. These, again, may resemble the flat look of keshis but they have a bead nucleus.

Coin pearls that look like keshis - the pearl girls

This is also where the matchstick pearls come from, and even the flat pearls. Again, not keshis because they have a nucleus.

Chinese freshwater matchstick pearls - the pearl girls

Now, sometimes farmers do not renucleate the mollusk with special shapes. Sometimes, they simply place another piece of tissue is the pearl sac of the mollusk. No matter how farmers choose to renucleate their mussels, many people call the resulting pearls a keshi pearl. And this is why we find so many “keshis” on the market.

In truth, any cultured pearl produced by returning a freshwater mussel or saltwater mollusk to the water after the first harvest is called a second-generation cultured pearl.

And although true keshis are not always abundant, they are a gorgeous pearl to add to your collection! Shop The Pearl Girls Keshi Pearls!



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