In the not too distant past, jewelers might have recommended Akoya pearls if you were looking for classic white pearls or Tahitian and South Sea pearls if you were looking for something big and bold. On the other hand, as more producers bring gem-grade freshwater pearls to the market, there are some extraordinary finds for customers who regard their jewelry choice as an investment. Of course, when our customers ask us about the best pearls, we also encourage them to explore the unique traits of all types of pearls and to choose the pearls that suite their style and budget. From stunning Black Tahitian pearls to classic gem grade pastel freshwater pearls, the pearl market today has more options within reach of the average consumer than ever before.
What is the Best Type of Pearl?There are four main types of cultured pearls to consider when pearl shopping. Each type has its own characteristics and singular qualities. By familiarizing yourself with each type of pearl, you'll be able to make a selection that suits you best.
Akoya Pearls: These pearls represent some of the best cultured pearls available today. Known for their metallic luster and perfectly round shape, they are regarded as the classic white pearl. While most Akoya pearls are farmed in Japan, China and Vietnam both produce Akoya pearls as well.
Freshwater Pearls: Cultured freshwater pearls come mainly from China, usually without a bead nucleus (making them very durable). Pearl lovers are enchanted by the range of natural colors freshwater pearls boast, like lavender, pink, white and the myriad of dyed options. Quality varies greatly with freshwater pearls, so choose wisely. Low grade potato shaped pearls can be had for a few dollars while perfectly round gem grade pearls with metallic luster will command prices in line with Akoya pearls.
Tahitian Pearls: The only naturally "black" pearl, there's nothing like breathtaking Tahitian pearls for exotic beauty. While not actually black they come in a wide range of dark body colors(green, blue, purple, silver, peacock etc.). Starting in size around 8mm and ranging up to 18mm, Tahitian pearls provide a bold exotic look.
South Sea Pearls: Large, elegant with a silky luster South Sea pearls are often referred to as the "Queen of Gems". Grown in the warm waters Indonesia and Australia they average around 13mm with some pearls growing over 20mm. Their relative rarity and the high cost of production make South Sea pearls the most expensive type of pearl.
What is the Best Quality of Pearl?Quality is an essential factor when shopping for any type of pearl. Every type has both high and low pearl examples when it comes to quality. For this reason, cultured pearls are graded to help gem customers understand the features of their pearls. While pearl reports may vary between jewelers, they typically evaluate pearl size, shape, color, and other significant traits that affect the pearl's value.
The report is an important resource for assessing the value of your pearl selection. To understand pearl grading more in depth, click here for additional resources. Keep in mind that there are many factors that impact a pearl's value such as luster, surface, nacre, and other traits mentioned earlier. For some customers, only a pearl of exceptional shape will do while other pearl lovers prize size as well as luster; and, of course, some pearl enthusiasts want to purchase pearls that are exceptional in every regard. For fine jewelry stick to pearls rated "AA" and higher.