The 5 quality indicators of pearls

13/06/2018 16:53 -

What determines the value of a pearl?

5 indicators to help you

How easy is it these days to buy something?! You go online, compare the product to a 100 similar ones, check the specs, maybe read a couple of reviews and voila! You can make an informed decision in no time.

So what if you're looking to buy pearls, can you manage with the same approach? Well, I'm sure you could make the purchase, but can you be sure about the quality compared to when you're buying a computer for example? No, it's not that easy. The pearl is a natural product, perfect in its simplicity, though different every time.
Us pearl enthusiasts love nothing more than going through piles of pearls and strands, looking for the most beautiful ones, comparing them in our hands, feeling the surface, letting it play with the light. So let me share with you some solid advice from our experience when it comes to selecting pearls.

Take note of these 5 indicators that will determine the quality and price:

1. Size (weight) of the pearl

In general the size of pearls range from less than 1mm to 15mm, with ranges from 15mm, up to 20mm considered rare. The size of the pearl is often expressed in its weight too, with the Grain (grein) unit being the old measure and Carat currently being the most used.

The bigger the pearl, the more expensive it can be. But the relationship is not linear. If you compare for example a 3mm pearl with a 6mm pearl, the price might double. If you would compare a 6mm pearl with a 12mm pearl, the price might be 5 times more expensive. The price difference between 6mm pearl and 12mm pearl compared to the difference between a 12mm and a 14mm pearl could therefore be the same, though there's a relatively smaller difference in size between the ladder.

2. Shape

The perfectly round pearl holds a premier position above all other shapes and is the most rare. Even when there's just a slight deviation from the perfect round shape, a drastic difference in price occurs. The price ranking of shapes is generally like this:

  1. Round
  2. Symmetrical (Drops for example)
  3. Oval, barrel and egg shapes
  4. Buttons
  5. Baroque

3. Colour

In French one says: "les couleurs et les gouts ne se discutent pas". You can’t argue about colour or taste. In the pearl trade, there is no 100% objective well-defined scale, every pearl must be evaluated by its individual beauty. Of course you need rankings to determine price, so the most commonly accepted order is that Rosé-coloured pearls are the most valued, directly followed by white, and light cream pearls with a rosé overtone. 

But even this order should be met with a subjective eye, since a person's skin colour can match better or worse with a certain pearl colour type. The Rosé toned pearls work better for Western people, while the creamier toned ones look better on Far-east types. 

4. Lustre

The lustre, or glow is the delicate iridescence which seems to float around the pearl and plays with the light. This factor is quite honestly impossible to describe in words, but needs experience and a keen eye to fully capture.
When observing a pearl, it's important that it doesn't look dull, there needs to be a reflection or shimmer that makes it come to life. To evaluate it's important to do this under a type of natural light, over a white basis, keeping a good 30cm distance from the pearl, as it will reflect the colours of your clothing or hair which can influence its tone.

5. Surface

A perfectly neat surface, with no holes, white spots or scratches is valued most. Usually, the drill hole is drilled into the surface of such a defect, making it disappear. 


Alright, this should give you a better understanding on what to look out for when buying pearls. Do keep in mind that although there are scales for every factor, it takes quite some experience to evaluate and there is always a personal subjective factor to take into account, so pick the pearls that work for you!

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