Tahitian: Donation of $10,000 and above
Tahitian, or black pearls, are pearls are grown in oysters found in the waters of French Polynesia. Only 1 in 10,000 of these oysters produces a pearl and because of this rarity, they cannot be mass produced. It takes 22 to 26 months for a pearl to grow. The largest Tahitian pearl ever found was 25 millimeters! Tahitian pearl colors include peacock, black, gray, silver, rose, blue, green and eggplant.
Akoya: Donation of $5,000 to less than $10,000
Akoya pearls are primarily grown in the cool to temperate saltwater of Japan (China is the second largest producer). The water temperature allows the pearl to develop highly uniform mineral crystals resulting in brilliant luster. It takes between 8 and 24 months for an Akoya pearl to grow, although most farmers wait at least one year in hopes of a larger pearl. The size can range from 2 to 10 millimeters and the colors are rose, silver, white, cream, gold and blue gray.
South Sea Pearls: Donation of $1,000 to less than $5,000
South Sea pearls are grown in the warm, pure waters off of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand. These pearls and their shells are the largest and rarest grown. It takes 20 to 24 months to grow the pearl and there are many complications that can cause them to die. South Sea pearls range in size from 9 to 20 millimeters and their colors include silver, pink, white, gold and white gold.
Freshwater: Donation of up to $1,000
Freshwater pearls are formed in lakes, rivers, ponds and other freshwater bodies mainly in China (Japan and the U.S. also produce). Up to 40 pearls can be grown at once in one mussel and for a long time there was much emphasis on producing large quantities. Today, science has improved the farming techniques, resulting in higher quality freshwater pearls. It takes 3 to 7 years for the pearls to grow and their size ranges from 3 to 13 millimeters. Freshwater pearls come in a variety of pastel shades including white, pink, peach, lavender, gray, yellow and cream.