What are Coin Pearls?

Coin pearls are pretty pearls that can be worn casually during the day and may add a touch of individual glamour to an evening.

Shaped as flat buttons or coins, the best quality coin pearls will shimmer with a beautiful pearlescence. They are typically 10-12 mm in diameter, with all the amazing natural white, pink and orange colours of freshwater pearls.

Coin pearls are cultured pearls mostly farmed today in China in freshwater mussels in river, lakes or streams. The pearl farmer will insert a flat round nucleus made of shell to help the mussel form the shape of the coin pearl, turning the shell so that there is an equal thickness of nacre on both sides of the pearl. This 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 more a non-symmetrical shape.

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 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 may scratch easily.

The highest quality coin pearls with a perfectly round shape, excellent nacre, excellent surface quality and a size over 12mm are really quite rare and are bought and sold individually by specialist dealers.

We look for coin pearls 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 add to the character of the jewellery. Their flat shape will lie beautifully and comfortably around the neck. If you are not familiar with coin pearls, view our collections of Freshwater pearl jewellery.