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Buying Pearl Jewellery - What To Look For

Pearls usually add an aura of beauty and sophistication to virtually any outfit, whether it's a woman's evening dress, a bride's wedding outfit, a girl's communion dress or even a formal blouse. Their white or cream shade, as well as a round shape, complements practically any wardrobe.

But how it is possible to compare the pearl jewellery which is being offered by various retailers and make sure that you are obtaining the best value for your hard-earned money?

While shopping for pearl jewellery like pearl bracelets and pearl choker necklaces, it is vital that you comprehend exactly what you are purchasing and how the retailers grade the pearls. In this way, you will be able to compare the pieces properly without being diverted by deceitful advertising lingo.

At first, you ought to understand that almost all the pearls which are available out there at present are actually cultured freshwater pearls. Although many retailers will advertise "pearl" or "cultured pearl" or "freshwater pearl", they’re all cultured freshwater pearls. It is very hard to find natural pearls mainly because of pollution and these are priced accordingly. If you do not understand the difference, it is suggested to assume that all the pearls are freshwater pearls and you should buy them accordingly. In this article, we have discussed some essential characteristics of the cultured freshwater pearls.


This is actually the sheen, gloss or brightness which you see. The high lustre pearls will usually appear almost brilliant with a few of them having a nearly glassy and mirror-like surface. On the other hand, the low lustre pearls are going to appear dull along with a matte finish.


Pearls are usually created from layers of a material known as Nacre. These pearls are actually caused by the irritants present inside the shells of different molluscs. The high-quality pearls consist of a very small irritant and are particularly all nacre. On the contrary, the low-quality pearls feature large irritant and comparatively less nacre. Besides this, the low-quality pearls can also have imperfections or inclusions on the surface. The high-quality pearls do not have any visible inclusion.


Those pearls which are absolutely round to the naked eye are actually highly-priced pearls. Those which have an oblong shape like an oval or a football are less costly and still, they are beautiful on a suitable piece of choker jewellery. The pearls that are shaped randomly or feature a wavy surface belong to the lower grade, however, they can still appear beautiful if properly arranged or strung.


The most expensive pearls are those which are round in shape. As a matter of fact, these types of expensive pearls are quite rare.


These pearls are not very common although they have symmetrical shapes. Usually, these consist of oval, teardrop, or Rondelle.


These types of pearls feature an irregular shape. They are usually not very costly although several unique-shaped pearls might cost even more than the round ones. The baroque pearls are being used in various types of ornaments since a very long time.


In case two retailers claim that they have the similar grades of pearls, how is it possible for you to differentiate them? In such a situation, it would be best to pick the one that features the best matching. It implies that the pearls utilized are of the same grade and also match one another visually. Several jewellers never take the time to match the shape, colour, and lustre of the pearls used in the same piece of jewellery which results in the decrease of the relative value.


Although the pearl's colour has some impact on the value of the jewellery, this particular aspect is mainly in the beholder's eye. The cultured freshwater pearls are available in an array of shades such as whites, pinks, creams, silver, lilacs as well as gold. We can obtain black pearls from the Tahitian black-lipped oyster. Often these pearls are dyed for achieving a specific colour. Although the colour is mainly a personal choice and depends on the use of the jewellery, when we compare two similar pieces, the one which is coloured naturally has more value as compared to the one that is dyed.


Usually, the larger pearls tend to be more expensive. The reason for this is that pearls with a larger size have to remain inside the mollusc even longer which increases the investment of the pearl farmer.

Grading Table 

The table shown below uses a common technique of grading pearls. Since there are many different grading lists, it is quite difficult to compare the pieces from various manufacturers. However, you will be able to make a proper decision in case you bear in mind the true meaning of the points mentioned above (matching, shape, lustre, colour, and nacre). The grading is actually a guideline and, therefore, it must not be used as a rule that all the retailers stick to. It can assist you to compare the pieces mentally.

AAA: All these pearls appear perfectly spherical to the naked eye. They possess a wonderful lustre plus really clean nacre without any surface inclusion. These pearls will make a fantastic matching with one another and they look wonderful on any type of jewellery.

AA+: These are visibly round in shape with an excellent lustre. They do not have any surface inclusion and also have clean nacre. There is an excellent matching between the pearls of this particular grade and they represent the top 6% of a pearl harvest.

AA: These pearls are off-round to near-round and feature an excellent lustre without any surface inclusion. They also have good nacre. The pearls in this category have a good matching between them and represent the top 20% of the pearl harvest.

A/A+: Being off-round in shape, this particular grade of pearls has a moderate lustre and consists of approximately 70% nacre. It does not have any surface inclusion. The matching between these pearls is good to moderate.

A: Pearls which are extremely off-round to baroque in shape belong to this category. They feature moderate lustre with moderately blemished nacre. The matching between the pearls is moderate.

Commercial/Beading quality: The pearls which belong to this particular grade have moderate to a low lustre and are asymmetrical baroque in shape. They include heavy inclusions along with heavily blemished nacre. The matching between the pearls is poor to moderate. In most cases, these types of pearls are employed in commercial use, for example, makeup. 


It can be quite scary or complicated to purchase a pearl jewellery. It is imperative to compare the two pieces on more than simply cost. Ensure that the different grading criteria are considered.  

Check out more articles from Otomo on pearls, fashion, home & garden and much more.


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