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Pearl

Perfect shining spheres. Lustrous baroque forms. Seductive strands, warm to the touch. Pearls are simply and purely organic.

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Beautiful Lustre

Pearl’s special lustre sets it apart from other gems.

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Perfect Sphere

Perfectly spherical pearls of excellent quality are extreme rarities.

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Smooth as Silk

Few pearls are completely blemish free.

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Tools

Buyer's Guide

The qualities that determine a natural or cultured pearl’s value are size, shape, colour, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and - for jewellery with two or more pearls - matching.

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What to look for

Different pearl varieties
Lustre

Of the seven pearl value factors, luster might be the most important. Lustre is what gives a natural or cultured pearl its unique beauty. Pearls with high luster have sharp bright reflections on the surface. Different pearl varieties have different standards for luster.

Clean South Sea cultured pearls
Surface

If surface characteristics are numerous or severe, they can affect the durability of the pearl and severely depress its value. Surface characteristics have less effect on the pearl’s beauty and value if they are few in number, or if they are minor enough to be hidden by a drill-hole or mounting.

Tahitian cultured pearl Jewellery
Shape

Pearls come in eight basic shapes: round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, and circled. Perfectly spherical pearls and symmetrical drops are the most valued. There are exceptions, though. Well-formed pear, oval, or baroque cultured pearls are also prized by pearl lovers.

Variety of pearl body colours
Colour

Pearl body colours vary by variety. Although white and black are traditional, unusual colours are becoming more popular. Overtones in a pearl’s luster and the rainbow iridescence known as orient also add to the colour of a pearl.

Bead-nucleated cultured pearl
Nacre Thickness

Luster and nacre quality are closely related. If the nucleus is visible under the nacre, or if the pearl has a dull, chalky appearance, you can assume that the nacre is thin. This affects the lustre as well as the durability of the pearl. Nacre thickness is evaluated to make sure that cultured pearls are durable as well as beautiful.

Different pearl sizes
Size

In general, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it is. Different varieties come in different sizes: South Sea cultured pearls are the largest.

Matching
Matching

Jewellery designers sometimes deliberately mix colours, shapes, and sizes for unique effects, but for most pearl strands, earrings, or other multiple-pearl jewellery, the pearls should match in all the quality factors.

Pearl Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide

Tips & Advice

1. Consider mixing pearl colours and origins.

Although single-colour strands are still the most common, mixing pearl colours and types is a fresh way to wear pearls. Multicolour strands often contain rare colours because it is too difficult to find enough of them to create a whole strand.

2. Add versatility with an adjustable clasp.

Traditional strands range from 14-16 inch chokers to 17-18 inch princess to longer matinee, opera, and rope lengths. New clasps allow you to create different lengths. For example, a long strand might be worn single, double, or as a shorter necklace.

3. Have your pearls restrung before they break.

Although pearls last generations, the string they are knotted on may not. Be sure to have your pearls checked regularly and restring them if there are signs of wear.