Real pearls are often the most expensive, which makes the purchase of pearl jewelry a daunting task for most people. Have you ever wondered what factors impact the pearl’s quality and hence, price? Available in a variety of qualities, pearls assessment can be an overwhelming experience. It shouldn’t be and for finding the right pearls for you with confidence, you need to understand the following value factors.
Luster is the most important and foremost value factor to evaluate pearl’s quality. Pearl being a lustrous gem, varies in terms of the sharpness and intensity of the light reflected from its surface. You can observe the following reflections while buying pearls and their worth varies accordingly.
● Dim and diffused reflection
● Bright and sharp reflection
● Metallic, mirror-like reflection
Higher the luster, the brighter and sharper the reflection of the pearl will be, and hence the more valuable it is than those of having poor luster (dim reflections). Extremely lustrous pearls show a deep, mirror-like appearance and are too costly to buy.
It’s an open fact that the size of a gemstone determines the price. Just like in the case of diamonds, smaller the size the lower the price will be. Same holds true for pearls. Here’s a quick guide to commonly occurring sizes depending on the pearl types.
● Akoya – 2 to 10mm
● Freshwater – 4 to 14mm
● Tahitian – 9 to 14mm
● South Sea – 8 to 20mm
Larger the pearl size, the greater the value and higher the cost it has. Normally measured in millimeters, pearl size varies with its type, rarity and growth period.
The surface condition of the pearl is one of the key factors to judge its quality – the spotted surface and noticeable blemishes could seriously affect the pearl durability. Tiny irregularities are quite acceptable because you will seldom find a strand of pearls with no imperfections (spots, bumps, pits, and wrinkles) at all. Pearls are generally classified into 4 categories depending on the surface quality conditions.
● Clean surface
● Lightly spotted
● Moderately spotted
● Heavily spotted
Even the clean surface that is supposed to be blemish-free contains minute surface characteristics, but these are invisible to naked eye. Well, rare are the ‘spotless pearls’ that are completely blemish-free.
4. Nacre Quality:
Nacre is a mollusk-produced natural substance that forms pearl and its quality directly impacts the pearl value – especially in saltwater cultured pearls. The nacre thickness determines the luster and durability of the pearl. Thicker the nacre the higher the pearl luster.
Most of the freshwater cultured pearl consists of nearly all nacre and contains no nuclei. This makes freshwater pearls with extremely lustrous, clean surfaces more durable compared to saltwater pearls.
5. Shape & Color:
These two factors usually fall in the personal preference and do not actually affect the pearl quality. However, a perfectly rounded pearl and those with natural colors are truly magnificent that heightens the pearl worth and cost. Though too rare to exist, these pearls are more valuable than the dyed ones and those that come in irregular shapes.
Pearls come in an array of stunning shapes and vivid colors (white, cream, silver, aubergine, etc.) and they often display subtle overtones like blue, pink, and green.
The most common colors are:
● Tahitian pearl colors (gray, black or brown; purple, pink, blue or green overtones.)
● South sea pearl colors (creamy white to deep gold and hues in between like yellow and champagne, etc.)
● Freshwater pastel colors (soft millennial pink, peach pink, light azure, creamy mint, and whimsy yellow, etc.
The shapes include:
● Round (with varied diameters being no more than 2%)
● Near-round (with minor variations)
● Oval (oblong and symmetrical)
● Button (symmetrical with one-side flattened)
● Drop (pear shaped, also called drop pearls)
● Semi-baroque (slightly irregular and off round)
● Baroque – irregular, asymmetrical (not round, drop or button shaped)
The varying shapes and colors make the strands of pearls more exciting, trendy and fun to wear.
Pearls are super chic, unique, elegant, and versatile fine jewelry. If you cannot afford real pearls, you have the option to buy cultured or costume pearls – these imitation pearls are commonly used in fashion jewelry.