Introduction to pearls

Start your journey to becoming a pearl expert in this free online course.

This course is also available in French, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and Japanese – Click here

Introduction to pearls

  • What is the Difference between a Natural Pearl and a Cultured Pearl?
  • Famous Pearls
  • Explore the World’s Most Expensive Pearls
  • What are Natural Pearls Worth?
  • How Rare is it to Find a Pearl in an Oyster?
  • Which Country is the Largest Producer of Pearls?

Pearls: origins & formation

  • How Does a Natural Pearl Form?
  • How Does a Cultured Pearls Form?
  • Freshwater and Saltwater Pearls: Telling Them Apart
  • Where Does Pearl Farming Take Place Today?
  • Does a Grain of Sand Lead to the Formation of a Pearl?
  • How Natural and Cultured Pearls Really Form

Quality factors, sustainability and  treatments

  • How to Know if it’s a Natural Pearl
  • What is the Best Colour for a Pearl?
  • What is Nacre Thickness?
  • How to Drill a Pearl
  • Is Pearl Farming Sustainable?
  • Can a Pearl be Treated to Improve its Surface?
  • Can the Colour of a Pearl be Improved?

The science of pearl testing

  • How to Tell if it’s a Pearl or an Imitation
  • How to Tell if it’s a Natural Pearl or a Cultured Pearl
  • How to Tell Where a Pearl is From
  • Is there DNA in a Pearl?
  • How to Tell the Age of a Pearl
  • Traceability of Pearls
  • What Instruments are Used to Test Pearls?

I had always heard that a pearl formed because of a sand grain. And so it isn’t. I really enjoyed how this pearl course dispelled that myth with informative chapters. Also loved the video on pearl farming and sustainability.


About the courses

  • Self-paced course: access the information you want, when you want it.
  • Test your knowledge about pearls with a quiz at the end of this course. Please note these are short introductory courses, they are not trade qualifications nor do they give you the possibility of adding letters/credentials after your name.

About your instructor

SSEF (Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF) is a non-profit Swiss foundation whose aim it is to further the science of gemstone testing and gemmological training. We are one of the leading gem labs in the world and have scientifically tested many of the world’s most prestigious gemstones.

To get that information & other services — click here to visit our website

Frequently asked questions

Who are these courses for?

  • Access trustworthy information from one of the world’s leading authorities on pearls.
  • Curious about pearls? Start learning more with this free course.
  • Are you in the jewellery or pearl trade and you want to gain expert insights on topics such as quality factors of pearls, how to know what kind of pearl it is and where pearls come from? Then this course is for you.

When does the course start and finish?

The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you and when you finish.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.

What this course is NOT:

  • How to buy a pearl
  • How to sell a pearl
  • How to drill a pearl
  • How to certify a pearl
  • How to price a pearl
  • Learning to design pearl jewellery
  • Knowing what pearls to invest in