What are Coin Pearls and how are these flat pearls made?

Coin pearls are pretty flat-shaped cultured pearls that can be worn casually during the day and add a touch of individual glamour to the evening. Shaped as flat buttons or coins, the best quality coin pearls will shimmer with a beautiful pearlescence.

How are coin pearls made?

Coin pearls are cultured pearls mostly farmed today in China in freshwater mussels in river, lakes or streams. They are formed by the pearl farmer inserting a flat round nucleus into the mussel to help it form the shape of the coin pearl. The mussel will deposit nacre around this disc, often made of shell, so that there is an even thickness of nacre on both sides of the flat pearl.

The process can take up to a year before the pearl is ready. Choosing exactly when to remove the pearl from the mussel is important. Too soon, and the nacre will be very thin, with the shape of the disc nucleus being quite visible. Too late, and the pearl will begin to take on a baroque, non-symmetrical shape.

What are the qualities of coin pearls to look for?

Coin pearls are typically 10-12 mm in diameter, with all the amazing natural white, pink and peach colours of Freshwater pearls. The flat shape of the coins are perfect for jewellery as the surface usually exhibits strong lustre and the flat shape will lie against the skin easily.

Coin Pearl Jewellery

Image 1: Coin pearl earrings
Image 2: Coin pearl bracelet

The quality of coin pearls can vary significantly. When choosing a necklace or bracelet made from coin pearls, or a pair of coin pearl earrings, look closely at the quality of the nacre. If you can easily see the shape of the flat shaped nucleus within the pearl, it is likely that the pearl has been removed from the mussel too early and the thickness of the nacre is too thin. This may lead to dull lustre and the pearl may be prone to scratching or damage.

The highest quality coin pearls with a perfectly round shape, excellent nacre, excellent surface quality are sought after. They are typically bought and sold by specialist dealers.

We look for coins that have a thick coating of nacre. Often these pearls will have some shape or surface irregularities, such as flame-like tails or small bumps, but we love the way that these imperfections add to the character of the jewellery. Their flat shape will lie beautifully and comfortably around the neck.

If you are not familiar with pearls, view our collection of Freshwater pearl jewellery.