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The Wide World of Pearls, Our 84th Issue: Exploring Pearl Luster



Pearls of Joy Pearl Quote of the Week: "There is many a rich stone laid up in the bowels of the earth, many a fair pearl laid up in the bosom of the sea, that never was seen, nor never shall be." -  Joseph Hall



Eye Candy


Weekly Eye Candy Spotlight: Lustrous Hanadama Akoya Pearls 



These stunningly lustrous Blue Hanadama Akoya pearls are a perfect fit for this newsletter focused all about LUSTER. 



You Ask ...We Answer.


What is Pearl Luster? 


How Important is Pearl Luster?

Luster is arguably THE MOST important aspect of a pearl’s value, beating out surface quality, symmetry of shape, size and color by a mile. If a pearl doesn't have nice luster, it just isn't going to be worth much. Luster is one of the famous “Value Factors” that jewelers, pearl specialists and appraisers use to grade pearls.

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.


Akoya Pearl Luster


Akoya Pearl Luster 


Akoya pearls will feature a white body color, either warm or cool toned. The overtones laid over the principal body color are usually fairly pronounced, but can vary in intensity. 


Hanadama Pearl Luster


Hanadama Pearl Luster 


You could have Akoya pearls, and then you can have HANADAMA Akoya pearls! Hanadama Akoya are the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to cultured Akoya pearl harvests - literally the "Ferrari of the Pearl World." 

Hanadama Akoya are hand-selected during the sorting process and set aside as having the highest rate of luster, best color and surface quality. They are then sent to the Pearl Science Laboratory in Tokyo for independent quality testing and certification.

Each pair of Hanadama pearl earrings and Hanadama pearl necklace comes with its own individually numbered PSL Certificate guaranteeing the pearls reach the highest levels of pearl luster, thickest nacre layers and cleanest surface quality available. 

Hanadama pearl luster can best be described as Extremely Sharp, with mirror-like reflective capabilities. The light return on these pearls is Very Bright and the pearls will have pronounced orient easily visible on their surfaces. 


Freshwater Pearl Luster


Freshwater Pearl Luster 


Freshwater pearls have long been thought to have the lowest luster of all pearl types, but that certainly doesn’t hold true today. That said, the luster of Freshwater pearls is generally softer and not as “crisp” as that of the Japanese Akoya. This is due to their solid crystal nacre make-up, which makes the pearls very durable. However, this composition slows down light beams reflecting back at the viewer making for a softer, more satin-like sheen overall.

Like Akoya pearls, Freshwater pearl luster can be graded as Excellent, Very High to Excellent, Very High, High, Medium and Poor.

“AAA Quality” Freshwater pearls must meet either "Very High to Excellent" or "Very High" luster in order to qualify for the grade.

"AA+ Quality”  Freshwater pearls should have luster that grades "Very High" or "High" to qualify.


South Sea Pearl Luster


South Sea Pearl Luster 


White and Golden South Sea pearls are pearls that spend between 2-3 years in the water acquiring extremely thick nacre layers. These stunning pearls have luster that is also often described as “satiny” looking, but these stunners are not limited to soft luster levels at all. Quite the contrary, fine quality White and Golden South Sea pearls can have a deep, lustrous glow and silky shine that is unlike any other pearl type out there today.

South Sea pearl luster is graded as Excellent, Very High to Excellent, Very High, High, Medium and Poor.

“AAA Quality” South Sea pearls can have either “Excellent” or “Very High to Excellent” luster.

“AA+ Quality” South Sea pearls should have luster that grades “Very High to Excellent” or “High to Very High” to qualify.


Tahitian Pearl Luster

 Tahitian Pearl Luster


Tahitian pearls are cultured pearls spend quite a bit of time in the water acquiring their thick layers of nacre … typically 2 years is the minimum. So it comes as no surprise that Tahitian pearl luster is described as “satiny”. But that doesn’t mean that Tahitian pearl luster can’t be sharp, highly reflective and totally beautiful.

Like other pearl types, Tahitian pearl luster is graded as Excellent, Very High to Excellent, Very High, High, Medium and Poor.

“AAA Quality”Tahitian pearls can have either “Excellent” or “Very High to Excellent” luster.

“AA+ Quality” Tahitian pearls should have luster that grades “Very High to Excellent” or “High to Very High” to qualify.

To learn more about the exact metrics used for each pearl type's luster levels (and see more pearl pics!) visit our long-form Pearl Luster article in our Pearl Education section.


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Featured Pearls



"Top Range" Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklace: 8.5-9.0mm



"Top Range" White Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklace, 8.5-9.0mm 

Each 18" strand comes with a numbered certificate issued by the Pearl Science Lab of Japan and has undergone a lengthy testing process to ensure each pearl in the strand meets the strict standards necessary to receive a Hanadama grade. These pearls have the thickest, cleanest nacre out of any Akoya pearl on earth, and it is this thick nacre that produces the truly breathtaking luster exhibited.
Hanadama pearls represent the top .01% of the Japanese harvest, which makes the supply of these pearls very limited and unpredictable. Like all of our necklaces, this strand is knotted between each pearl for safety and strung with only the finest twin silk. 
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