At the core there are only two kinds of pearls.
Natural - Most of these are "harvested out" except for very few locations. A lot have been destroyed because of pollution. So only true collectors of pearls can afford natural pearls that are physically invaded by a sea organism.
Cultured - These are what Paula's store sells, having been grown in freshwater, such as lakes or rivers. These are genuine cultured pearls. Cultured pearls just means that they are grown by man. Tissue is surgically implanted into a mollusk and grown in a pearl farm where it is maintained by workers. The tissue irritates the mollusk to secrete a discharge that attempts to soothe the irritation. This discharge builds and becomes layer after layer of pearl.
Until recently, non-round shaped pearls were usually produced naturally. 'Forms' are now implanted into the mollusk to produce flat coin pearls, flat squares, sticks, crosses, etc. Other shapes like the "rice krispies" are a natural shape.
Pearls can be dyed to any color, like orange, lavender, purple, violet, blue, rose, gray, pink, white, and other colors.
Look for the luster! Shape, color and size are all personal preferences.
Paula can afford to sell pearls at a reasonable price because she goes to the pearl farms and deals with the oyster. No middleman….just Paula and the Oyster.