Natural and cultured pearls occur in a broad range of hues. There are warm hues like yellow, orange, and pink, and cool hues like blue, green, and violet. Pearls have a wide range of tone from light to dark. Pearl colors tend to be muted, with a soft, subtle quality.
Pearl color can have three components. Body color is the pearl’s dominant overall color. Overtone is one or more translucent colors that lie over a pearl’s body color. And orient is a shimmer of iridescent rainbow colors on or just below a pearl’s surface. All pearls display body color, but only some show overtone, orient, or both.
The law of supply and demand determines the value of certain pearl colors at any given time. If supplies of high-quality pearls displaying a preferred color are low, their prices can rise to unusually high levels. Other complex factors, like fashion trends and cultural traditions, can influence color preferences.