Edison Pearls vs South Sea Pearls: The Four Main Differences

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when trying to choose which pearl jewelry to buy online? There are so many questions. What is the difference between type A and type B? Why is the one more expensive than the other?

We’d like to clear up some of the confusion for you, which is why we are comparing two types of popular pearls that both come in large sizes: Edison pearls and South Sea pearls.

South Sea pearls are produced inside the Pinctada maxima mollusk, found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are cultivated primarily in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

Edison pearls are freshwater pearls produced inside mussels. They are cultivated primarily in China.

Let’s look at the difference between these two pearl types in terms of their growing environment, colors, size, and price.


1. Edison vs South Sea Pearls: Growing Environment

South Sea pearls are cultivated in the ocean, in other words in saltwater, while Edison pearls are freshwater pearls, grown in a river, lake, or stream.


2. Edison vs South Sea Pearls: Color Range

There are five different standard pearl color series:

  1. White series, which include pure white, milky white, silvery white, and porcelain white.
  2. Yellow series, which include light yellow, golden, champagne, and orange.
  3. Red series, which include pink, light rose, and light purple.
  4. Black series, which include black, blue-black, grey-black, brown-grey, purple-grey, brown-black, and iron-grey.
  5. Other series, which include purple, brown, cyan, blue, red-purple, green-yellow, light blue, green, and bronze.

South Sea pearls only come in the white, yellow, and black color series, while Edison pearls can fall into all pearl color series.

Ever wondered where pearls get their colors from? A number of factors determine the colors of the lustrous jewel produced.

  • Internal factors: Organic color pigments such as porphyrin, carotenoid, and metal elements, and organic matter.
  • External factors: The body color of the mother-of-pearl, the color of the bead or tissue used for nucleation, microelements in the water, water temperature, water pH value, and composition concentrations which mainly depend on the cultivation technology.

Edison pearls come in so many exquisite natural colors because the pearl mussels used for cultivation have undergone ten years of gene modification and development by researchers at the Zhejiang University. The mussels are then cultivated in a natural-flowing, mineral-rich aquatic environment for more than three years, which results in a spectrum of beautiful colors.


3. Edison vs South Sea Pearls: Size

Edison pearls usually come in sizes larger than 11mm with the most common in the 11-12mm range.

Akoya and Tahitian pearls rarely reach these large diameters. But Australian White South Sea pearls and Golden South Sea pearls do reach substantial sizes, although, for the same price you can get bigger Edison pearls with superior luster.


4. Edison vs South Sea Pearls: Price

Since Edison pearls are grown in freshwater it is easier to control and improve the water quality. South Sea pearls, on the other hand, are grown in the sea, so water quality is difficult to control, which makes the cultivation cost much higher. This makes a big difference to the pricing of these pearls. For the same quality, Edison pearls are much more affordable.


Which Pearls Will You Choose?

There are many reasons why you would select one type of pearl over another. It all depends on your preferences. Are you looking for something affordable? Do you want pearls that are rare, so the price you pay for them is irrelevant? Do you want a wider variety of colors to choose from? Do you choose pearl jewelry solely based on whether you like the design or not? Do you like large pearls, or do you prefer something more petite?

We have both Edison pearls and South Sea pearls in our shop. Take a look – you’re sure to find something to suit your style.


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