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Black vs. White Pearls

  • 4 min read

Black vs. White Pearls

Can’t decide between black and white pearls? You’re not alone. These two shades are the most popular pearl colours on the market. They’re also achromatic, which means they are essentially colourless. As such, they have become modern jewellery box staples, as they always look good with a full range of outfits and occasions.

However, there are some distinct differences between the two that can help you determine the best pearl colour for you. Read on as we cover the key factors to consider when selecting black or white pearls.

How to choose between black and white pearls

By personal style

While there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing a pearl colour that fits your style, there are a few things you may want to consider.

Firstly, white pearl jewellery is the more traditional of the two shades. Because of this, and their prevalence amongst royalty and brides, they are usually deemed to be the “classic” choice. As a result, white pearls tend to exude a sense of reliability, trustworthiness and classical beauty.

Elegant and understated, a classic white pearl necklace creates a sleek, put-together look for various occasions. Pair with neutrals or pastel hues for the everyday, or revive 1950s glamour with a little black dress, pearl earrings and a red lip for the evening.

If you like the softness of white pearls but prefer more modern styles, white baroque pearls look more chunky, relaxed and creative, while multiple long pearl necklaces will look playful, with the pearl strands creating a beautiful movement as you move.

In contrast, black pearl jewellery is much more contemporary. Bold, edgy and full of attitude, black pearl earrings will make you feel confident and prove that you’re not afraid to be a little different. Black pearls also have an innately sultry feel that is both mysterious and alluring – perfect for special occasions and glamorous events.

Although arguably most suited to the cover of darkness, black pearls can be worn whenever you like. A black pearl necklace made from organic materials like leather or silk is casual enough for the daytime. Simply pair with dark jeans, chunky boots and a leather jacket for a rock-chick look. Add a black pearl ring to create a bold statement.

Black pearl jewellery is also a great way to add contrast to soft, feminine outfits. Vamp up floral dresses by adding layers of long black pearls or a leather pearl choker. Stacked black pearl bracelets will also add extra edge and tone down any sense of formality. Complete the look with a denim jacket and trainers for laid back summer weekends, or opt for black tights, Chelsea boots and a slouchy knitted cardigan for the colder months.

By symbolism

If you’re interested in the meanings behind different colour pearls, why not choose your pearl shade based on what it represents?

White pearls are thought to alleviate stress thanks to their naturally calming properties. More generally, white pearls symbolise the wearer’s innocence and sincerity, a classic colour for a classical beauty.

Black pearls, on the other hand, can signify a variety of different things. Chinese legends associate them with wisdom, while in Polynesia, they’re deemed a sign of everlasting love.

By value

As white pearls are by far the most common, they are generally considered less expensive than black pearls. However, their value is actually determined by how and where they are produced, their shape and size, and their lustre.

White freshwater pearls that are cultured (created through human intervention) in rivers, are one of the most affordable pearl types on the market. This is because they are relatively easy to produce, and their shape can vary greatly. With that said, these creamy white pearls are the most durable for everyday wear.

Meanwhile, luminous white South Sea Pearls are larger, rounder and form naturally in the ocean, making them some of the rarest and most expensive pearls in the world.

On the other end of the spectrum, black Tahitian pearls are another rare and natural gemstone. While not quite as expensive as South Sea pearls, Tahitian pearls are the most luxurious black pearls you can buy and are renowned for their iridescent nacre.

Alternatively, human treated black Freshwater or Biwa pearls are a more affordable option and are finished with a deeper black hue.

By skin tone and hair colour

Although white and black pearls generally suit any skin tone, their overtones can make all the difference to your look and enhance your natural beauty. This should be taken into account when choosing between the two shades.

South Sea white pearls tend to have a silvery overtone that gives them a brilliant, crisp white finish. They look particularly striking against darker skin tones, as do black Tahitian pearls with rich green or deep purple overtones, rich ebony skin tones really suit warm white, gold pearls, and vibrant Black pearls with strong green or purple overtones.

If you have a pale complexion and dark hair, white freshwater pearls with pink overtones are a great choice. Tahitian pearls with hints of green or blue also create a stunning contrast against pale skin, hence why they work particularly well with natural redheads. Pale blondes, however, tend to suit black pearls with silver or blue overtones best.

Finally, if you have a medium skin tone or a light one that tans well during summer, creamier white pearls should be your go to. Akoya pearls with warm peach or gold hues are ideal, and black pearls with green overtones will also be flattering.

If you’d like to learn more about Akoya Pearls, watch this video…



Browse white and black pearl jewellery at Coleman Douglas Pearls

At Coleman Douglas Pearls, we design and supply a vast range of black and white pearl jewellery. From traditional freshwater pearl necklaces in white, to striking leather lariats dotted with moody black Tahitian pearls, we have something to suit everyone.

Explore our full collection online to discover the perfect pearl jewellery for you or opt for our bespoke service instead. With this option, our designers will work with you to create a custom piece that speaks entirely to you. Give us a call on 0207 373 3369 or email us at to learn more.


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