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A color is made up of three characteristics: Body color, Overtone, and Orient.
Body color is the dominant color of the pearl. It is influenced by the type of mollusk, the color of the mantle tissue implant, and water condition. For instance, Akoya cultured pearls are usually white or cream. However, Freshwater and Tahitian cultured pearls have a wider range of color choices including purple, brown, pink, blue, orange and many other colors.
Overtone is the colors that appear over the pearls body colors. The body color still shows though however the overtone changes the color a little. Many pearls have one or more overtone color in shades of blue, green, or pink. However, not all pearls have an overtone.
Orient is the colors that shimmer on or just below the pearls surface. An orient is like a rainbow you see on a bubble. They are colors that are seen on the surface that move when the pearl is moved. Orient is created by the reflection of light over the different layers of nacre. Since every pearl has a different about of nacre and the layers that cover the pearl are all different, the orient changes depending on how the light hits a particular spot.
Hue, Tone, and Saturation are also taken into account when discussing pearl color just like in any picture or color. The intensity of a color and the shading all has an effect on the color and value of a pearl.
When selecting the right pearl color to buy, the most basic guideline you should follow – next to overall personal taste – is matching the pearl to the skin tone of the wearer. For example, women who have fair or light colored skin will usually feel that pearls with rose overtones flatter their skin tone the best. Women who tan easily or who have darker skin will usually be complimented best by silver overtones.
The value of a pearl is really depends on the owner and what they are looking for. Some people like soft colors and hues with no orient while others like a strong orient and overtone. It is ultimately depends on the type of jewelry and personal preference.