Back Home

            Our Company

American Pearl Company®  specializes in cultured and natural pearls from the United States and we carry a variety of pearls:

Natural Pearls: Abalone, Conch, Melo Melo, Manodeleon, Scallop, Lion's Paw, Baja, La Paz, Saltwater, American Freshwater origin in - wings, rosebuds, rounds, buttons, turtlebacks, snails and more shapes.
Cultured Pearls:   American Origin -in fancishapes- coin, bar, marquise, drop, cabochon, navette and triangle, Akoya, Japanese, Natural color black Tahitian, South Sea, fancicolor, fancishape?, Chinese -in shapes- rounds, semi rounds, drops, buttons, crosses, sticks and more.
"Keshi Pearls":   Black, grey, white & rosea.

Our American Story:
No gem captures the imagination like the lustrous creation of the mollusk-the American Pearl. Naturally occurring pearls are the most precious because of their rich color and orient displaying an incredible rainbow of iridescence born from deep layers of the protective nacre of the mussel. Natural pearls are rare and the supply in the marketplace is limited. However, American Pearl Company® has spent 50 years collecting natural pearls from our own rivers and lakes, maintaining a sizable inventory. We have also expanded our line to include the first cultured American Pearls. 

For 30 years our research and development program refined and reinvented the culturing techniques introduced from Asia. The results have been astounding. Not only did we improve upon our culturing process, by allowing the pearls to grow for three to five years in monitored waters, but our own native river mussels have produced remarkably beautiful cultured pearls of superior quality and unique shape offered only by American Pearl Company®. Much of our success, however, is due to the patience and hard work of every staff member of the American Pearl Company®. 

The American Pearl® story begins with the lone diver (1). The mother shells are harvested by individually selecting mussels from the rivers (2). The natural habitat is not destroyed by dredging the river floor, and the younger mussels are left to continue breeding. With great care, the mussels are placed into nets (3) allowing ample room for each mussel to feed, grow and reproduce at a higher rate than in their natural habitat. The pearl farm is constantly monitored for water quality and temperature (4). The cultured pearl begins with a mother-of-pearl nucleus (5). In fact, about 95% of the worlds round cultured pearls were nucleated with a bead carved from the shell of an American mussel. The nucleation process is a skill that takes many years to master (6, 7, 8).  Surgery is performed on mussels strategically placing a fancishape? mother-of-pearl nucleus within the soft tissue. Because of their great size the American mussels can be multi-nucleated with a variety of shapes, producing bountiful harvests of pearls. After surgery, the sensitive nucleated mussels are eased back into their natural environment by way of the "intensive care unit"(9). If the mussel survives the operation, it is placed in a net at the pearl farm where they will work their magic for 3-5 years. 

Many Asian bead-nucleated cultured pearls are grown for only 1 year or less resulting in less durability and beauty. The pearls created by American Pearl Company® are heirlooms - for future generations to enjoy. Waiting is always difficult. When the 3-5 year growing period is up, the pearls are anxiously harvested and sorted (10). Our cultured pearls are available in a variety of original shapes, our most popular is the exclusive Dom Pearl is immediately recognized as a cultured pearl of high quality, rich luster, and breathtaking orient. 
The Dom Pearl begins as a large blister pearl in the shell of the mussel (11). The shell is thoroughly cleaned (12), the rough shapes of the Dom? Pearls? are cut from the shell (13), the final shape for each Dom Pearl is meticulously calibrated, and the edges are polished to a smooth finish (14). After the Dom Pearl is perfected, it is graded, sized, and matched by our pearl specialists (15). It is then ready for the artistry of its gold, platinum and silver setting. 
We also created a unique and elegant line of American cultured pearls formed loose in the tissue of the mussel. These fancishapes - Marquise, teardrop, bar, navette, cabochon, triangle and our most popular coin - lend themselves beautifully to the innovative work of modern jewelry designers (16, 17). 


The grading of a cultured or natural pearl depends upon its luster, orient (the deep play of color seen in fine pearls), shape and color as well as its size and clarity. The short-term growth period of the many Asian bead-nucleated cultured pearl creates a very thin nacre coating, clearly shown in the cross section (18). In contrast, a natural pearl will have thick layers of nacre, shown as growth rings in the cross section (19), which give the pearl durability, beauty and value. At American Pearl Company®  we combined these desirable qualities of the natural pearl and the predictability of the cultured pearl by cultivating for years instead of months. Also, we never bleach or dye our pearls, maintaining their natural beauty and durability. The nucleus for each cultured pearl is a calcium carbonate substance, such as mother-of-pearl. If a grain of sand or a pebble should end up inside the mussel; the shell will perhaps secrete nacre around the pebble but will not adhere (20). 

Our work does not end after the pearls are harvested. We use American artisans and goldsmiths to create our line of exclusive jewelry. Every step in our jewelry production is done the United States-sculpting the initial wax design (21), using the "lost wax" process (22) in casting the "trees" of mountings with 14K - 18K gold (23, 24), polishing and setting the mountings with pearls and gems (25), and putting the finishing touches to each masterpiece (26). 
Some of our designer pieces are hand fabricated. The gemologists on staff inspect all gems-pearls, diamonds and colored stones-that become part of the jewelry (27). Our pearls are so durable, that we're even able to clean the jewelry with ultrasonic with no harm to the pearls (28). Each piece receives a final inspection before being offered to the retailer.


We Are Your All American Source For Fine Pearls Both Natural and Cultured.
Please visit the touring exhibition below. The Latendresse Family Pearl Collection has nineteen pearl items on display. The John Latendresse Estate has kept the collection in a vault unseen for over fifty years. The "Pearls: A Natural History" tour was organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 2001.

Pearls: A Natural History Tour

Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI
March 5, 2005 to June 26, 2005

National Science Museum, Tokyo, Japan
September 17, 2005 to December 31, 2005

Natural History Museum of London, London, England
April 15, 2006 to August 6, 2006

Loose pearls: We specialize in American natural pearls, cultured fancishapes? and our exclusive cultured Dom? Pearls? in a variety of shapes all harvested from the native waters of Tennessee. Our collection of natural pearls have been collected over the last 51 years and include collections from families who collected natural pearls since the mid 1800's.
Fine jewelry: We specialize in our standard catalog lines with cultured Dom? Pearls? and American natural pearls, one-of-a-kind custom pieces at limited availability. The American Pearl Company® knows the importance of teamwork and personal service. We're committed to working with you to reach the individual customer and create excitement for this unique product. We are only a phone call or e-mail away to answer any questions that you or your customer may have.