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The Wide World of Pearls, Our 111th Issue: What Are The Factors That Make a Pearl Valuable?

 

 

Pearls of Joy Pearl Quote of the Week: "All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography." -  Frederico Fellini

 

 

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Weekly Eye Candy Spotlight: Hanadama Akoya Pearls on Blue Agate

 

 

HEAVENLY HANADAMA

Is there a prettier picture out there than these Hanadama Akoya pearls placed on a slice of blue agate? We don't think so!

 

 

You Asked ...

Every day we receive questions from customers all over the world about pearls. We decided to post our answers here for every one to read!

What Factors Affect The Value Of A Pearl?

Pearl Value Factors

 

 

We Answer: 

We evaluate pearls based upon 6 "Value Factors" in order to determine their quality and value. 

Those Value Factors are:

Nacre Thickness

Luster

Shape

Size

Surface Quality 

Color

 

Pearl Value Factors: Nacre Thickness

 

Nacre Thickness

Nacre is the smooth surface that gives the pearl its beauty. When an irritant enters the oyster or, as in the case of cultured pearls is placed inside the oyster, it responds by coating the irritant with layers of nacre. The thicker and smoother the nacre the more valuable the pearl. Good quality Akoya pearls should have a nacre thickness of about 10-15% of the diameter of the pearl - in comparison Tahitian pearls may be up to 50% nacre.
 
Nacre quality is usually broken up in three categories:
 
Acceptable - This pearl isn't chalky. The nacre is usually uniformly thick enough that you cannot see the nucleus, the bead placed in the oyster or mussel to cause it to create nacre. A slight "blink" or glimpse of the nucleus is permissible.
 
Nucleus Visible - This pearl shows strong blinking, a flickering of darker and lighter, when you rotate it. The flicker of dark is the nucleus, which can be quite noticeable in thin-nacre pearls.
 
Chalky Appearance - a dull and whitish pearl. The thin nacre on these gems never developed that glow that makes a pearl special.
 
Note: If dealing with quality pearls, they should fall into the "acceptable" category
 
Pearls that are chalky, dull or that blink aren't as attractive as those that are gleaming and solid, they also won't be as durable. Freshwater pearls are almost completely nacre. They and their saltwater counterparts with thick nacre will look beautiful and last for many years.
 
Pearls with thick nacre have more of a chance of having a high-quality luster. The arrangement and translucence of each nacre plate determines the luster. Some thick-nacre pearls lose points when it comes to value because they don't have great luster.


Pearl Value Factors: Luster

Pearl Luster

This is the intense glow that comes from within the pearl, which is produced by light entering the pearl and reflecting back through the layers of nacre. The quality of the luster is directly related to how even and smooth the layers of nacre are. You should be able to see your reflection on the surface of a pearl with good luster. A pearl with no reflection or a dull color is of poor quality.
 
Pearl luster has three components:
 
  • Luster measures the rate of light reflecting off the surface of the pearl.
  • Luster measures the sharpness of reflection visible on its surface.
  • Luster also measures how well light beams break up through the nacre layers to refract back at the viewer, giving very fine quality pearls a subtle “glowing” aspect.
 
All four of the major pearl types require a rating of “High to Very High” luster in order to be graded “AAA Quality”. However, each pearl type plays with light in its own unique way and should be evaluated on a scale that takes that into account.
 


Pearl Value Factors: Surface Quality

Surface Quality

This one is a bit obvious ... With pearls the cleaner the surface the more valuable it will be.
 
A good quality pearl will have a few blemishes or marks - of course a pearl is from mother nature and few minor blemishes should be expected on all but the finest strands.
 
No two pearls are perfectly alike, and one of the factors that makes each different is its surface quality. Virtually no pearl is perfect, and any flawless specimens are treasures.
 
The majority of pearl buyers will have a degree of surface imperfections on their gemstones. Pearl aficionados know that even the finest pearls will have irregularities on the surface. The key factors to surface quality irregularities are how noticeable they are and if they seriously affect the durability of the pearl.
 
Serious surface quality issues are usually chips and gaps, which will lower the value of even the most lustrous pearls. Why? These particular imperfections can cause the pearl to crack or peel.
 
Other characteristics include:
 
Abrasions - scratches or scuffs that affect the luster or color of the pearl.
 
Spots - minor color variations.
 
Bumps - tiny bubbles on the surface of the pearl
 
Wrinkles - where the nacre isn't smooth.
 
Some surface characteristics are hardly noticeable, even to a pearl expert. A good example would be a minor flaw near the hole drilled in the pearl.


Pearl Value Factors: Size

Pearl Size

Pearls can range in size from 1mm seed pearls to huge 20mm South Sea pearls. Cultured pearls of 6 - 7.5mm are the most common, and above this size the price jumps upward rapidly with each half-millimeter from 7.5mm up. 
 
The right pearl size for you will vary depending on your style. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
 
Larger pearls are the best choice if you’re looking to achieve a formal look, or for those high-wattage red carpet events. Big, bold pearl jewelry will make a big, bold statement, and for those occasions when you want to stand out, they can be the perfect choice.
 
By contrast, smaller or medium-sized pearls are generally favored for casual everyday wear. They can also convey a subtle, understated elegance, or be combined with other sizes to achieve a unique and modern fashion statement.
 
Age can also be a factor when choosing the right pearl size. Young women and girls will often find that smaller pearls work best for their needs, matching their smaller frames and more delicate features. Meanwhile, mature women may opt for larger statement pearls that convey sophistication and glamor. Time of day and the occasion at which the pearls will be worn are also important to consider.
 
The bottom line is that if you want to buy the perfect set of pearls that expresses your individual style and personality, you’ll have to do a little bit of digging into the various pearl sizes.
 


Pearl Value Factors: Shape

Pearl Shape 

A perfectly round pearl is the most sought after and the most rare of cultured pearls. So rare are round pearls that only 5-10% of a pearl farm's harvest will be even and round. The rest of the harvest will vary from semi-round pearls to asymmetrical baroque pearls.
 
The gold standard when it comes to pearl’s shapes is of course perfectly Round. It is the rarest and the most valuable in addition to the most “classic” shape for most pearl shoppers.
 
But beyond Round, what you are looking for in a nice-looking pearl shape are characteristics like smooth, symmetrical shapes. For this reason, smooth Drop Shaped pearls are the next most valuable pearl shape. Baroque pearls are generally considered the least valuable pearl shapes, but quite often Baroques are highly collectible due to their unique nature.


Pearl Value Factors: Color

Pearl Color 

Color does not greatly affect the price of pearls as it is mostly a matter of taste. 
 
White pearls are easily the most famous of all the pearl colors, bar none. White is considered the most classic and versatile, and for centuries has been a favorite of women and brides.
 
Meaning of White Pearls:  White pearls have had many special meanings throughout history. They’ve been used primarily to symbolize innocence, purity, faith, protection and peace.
 
There are 3 types of naturally colored White pearls.
 
They are:
 
  • White Akoya
  • White Freshwater
  • White South Sea Pearls
 
Other pearl colors include black/grey, pink, peach, lavender, purple, gold and even blue! 



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Gorgeous shades of Blue, Green and Peacock shimmer over every pearl in this Tahitian pearl treasure! This sparkling strand gleams with brilliance and is subtly kissed with Rose hints. An absolute classic, this gorgeous Tahitian pearl necklace is the very definition of luxury.  The AAA Quality Tahitian Pearl Necklace features Smooth Drop-Shaped Tahitian pearls, 9.0-11.0mm in size. The pearls will be individually double-knotted on matching black silk and finished with a 14K Gold clasp of your choice. Each pearl purchase comes nestled in our signature Little Black Jewelry Box and is accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity, detailed Pearl Care Instructions and Pearl Polishing Cloth.

 

 

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