Keshi Pearls and Biwa Pearls

In The Pearl Girl Blog we already talked much about pearls in general, how are they made, what they are made of and how to spot a high-quality pearl. In this text we’ll focus more on two very special kinds of irregular shaped pearls that have been dominating runways in past couple of years, Biwa and Keshi pearls. First let’s emphasize, the term “Baroque” is the umbrella category for all unique-shaped pearls, which we use to describe any pearl that is not round, nugget or oval.

So let’s start with question: What are the Keshi Pearls? And what is the difference with Biwa pearl?

Keshi Pearls

keshi pearls
keshi pearls

At the beginning of the last century when cultivated pearls were first being collected, the Japanese found inside oysters very small pearls that they called “Keshi”. Translated this means “Poppy seed“, obviously referring its size. In general the diameter is 1-8 mm, but on rare occasions they can reach up to ~2cm in diameter and even 5 grams in weight.

As discussed in our previous blog post the pearls are formed when a mollusk, produces layers of nacre around some type of irritant in its shell.  Cultured pearls form around a nucleus placed in the oyster’s soft mantle tissue and natural pearls, form with no nucleus inside.  Keshi pearls are all natural because there is no nucleus inside.  We say keshi pearl are formed as a by-product of cultivation. As told before nacre is a very precious material, hence keshi pearls are highly valued, being made up of nothing but pure nacre.

And since keshis are made up of pure nacre, there is nothing to stop the reflection of light – making them extraordinarily lustrous .Their special luster creates a remarkable radiance when worn on the skin – pile them high near the face in fun, chic styles and/or layers.

Biwa Pearls

Biwa lake

The original Biwa Pearls originates in a lake in Japan named, Lake Biwa. The operation of cultivation of Pearls in Lake Biwa was started in the year 1920. It was popular for decades till the water pollution decreased the number of pearls.  Kokichi Mikimoto is the man most credited with perfecting the techniques of freshwater pearl culturing. He and his associates, experimenting at Lake Biwa, seeded mussels only with soft mantle tissue. This resulted in an all-nacre pearl of good luster and unusual shape—the rice-grain shape was typical.

Biwa pearls also emerged in previously unseen colors, and they could be mass-produced. They came on the market just when the natural, saltwater pearl fishing industry was going into serious decline. However Biwa pearl production also declined, thanks to similar factors—pollution at Lake Biwa. In modern times the word “Biwa” was firstly used for describing freshwater Pearls and all the unique shapes they have. Today this term is used for depicting the contours of the Pearls.  Biwa pearls have irregular shapes and beautiful nacre and lustre.

keshi pearls
Biwa pearls

So, both Keshi and Biwa pearls can be baroque and round.

Because keshi pearls are formed without a nucleus, their shapes tend to be more baroque, with round keshis being exceedingly rare. They stand out and catch the eye with their natural shapes and are featured in all different types of jewelry design.  Pearl admirers and jewellery makers appreciate keshi pearls as very unique and valuable pearls.  Many like to enhance their traditional pearl jewelry by adding keshi pearl brooches, strands, bracelets or rings. Fusing the organic appeal of keshi pearls with more classic pearl jewelry designs creates a fresh, fun and very individualized look. Whether you prize their unique shapes, their radiant luster or their all natural value, keshi pearls are a necessary part of any pearl lover’s fine jewelry wardrobe.

The Pearl Girl offers limited collection of premium baroque pearls, biwa pearls and keshi pearls as well as the round and nugget shaped ones. One of the latest trends are the cross-shaped biwa pearls. You can checkout our limited  collection and find unique piece for your jewellery art.



Baroque, biwa and keshi pearls