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Are Tiffany & Co. Pearls Worth It?

Ok it’s time for us to come clean, and tell the truth.

We really, really like Tiffany & Co.!

The elegant boutiques, the iconic Robin’s-Egg Blue jewelry box (now named Tiffany Blue — they even have their own color!), the mystique of Audrey Hepburn and Holly Go Lightly … not to mention their sparkling diamond and gemstone jewelry designs!

But for the vast majority of pearl jewelry shoppers just looking to find high quality jewelry at competitive prices, their biggest question is: is Tiffany's worth it? This article aims to answer that question fully, fairly and best of all: quickly! So let's explore the in's and out's of Tiffany & Company pearls!


Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go Lightly in the classic film

Tiffany & Co. Brand Basics


Tiffany & Co. is an American institution that has been creating gorgeous, high-quality couture jewelry for over a hundred years.

While primarily known for their award-winning sterling silver serveware, luxury diamonds and rare colored gemstone jewelry, Tiffany’s also sells cultured pearl jewelry!

So the question becomes: is it worth it to spend the money on Tiffany & Co. pearls??

Well. Maybe.

As with the caveats we mentioned in our earlier Mikimoto Pearl Company article, the truth is a bit more complicated. It requires that we dig into the “why’s” of who would want to buy Tiffany pearls and also comparing the pearl jewelry that Tiffany’s sells versus other vendors that sell similar or better quality pearls for lesser prices.

The simple rule is: if you’re looking to spend big — more than about $10,000 — then Tiffany’s just might be worth itthe cost. You’ll be paying for the Tiffany brand name, but at that price point, you’re already spending big, and Tiffany’s quality is top-tier.

BUT! If you’re not ready to lay down the big bucks — if your budget is under $10,000, as it is for most shoppers — you can find pearls that match or even exceed the quality of Tiffany’s for far, far less.

That’s the basic guideline, though it gets much more complicated than that. But don’t worry, we’ll explain.


The Tiffany & Co. Brand - An Iconic History & Reputation

Vintage Tiffany & Co., advertisement featuring a pearl tassel necklace


The Tiffany & Company reputation is no joke. Formed in New York City in 1837 under Charles Lewis Tiffany, Tiffany & Co. has become known for their incredibly beautiful gemstones and groundbreaking jewelry designs that have come to define generations of jewelry aesthetics.

Fun fact: Tiffany & Co. was the very first mainstream jeweler to introduce the gem Tanzanite in the late 1970s. This is a serious jewelry house with a history of beautifully made jewelry, high quality precious stones and trend-setting design innovations that have influenced the jewelry industry world-wide.


Tiffany & Co., pearl and diamond jewelry worn during the film

Photo credit:Gemspeak.com


You may recall the splash Tiffany’s made with their Great Gatsby Collection, created specifically for the movie starring Carey Mulligan, Leonardo Di Caprio and Elizabeth Debicki.

The adaptation of the classic tale by F. Scott Fitzgerald dazzled audiences and the jewelry world in 2013, showcasing Tiffany & Co.’s incredible Art Deco jewelry designs featuring sparkling diamonds, cultured Akoya and Freshwater pearls and intricate goldwork.

Tiffany & Co. has a rock-solid reputation for creating jewelry with exacting standards, and their jewelers are some of the best in the world. Their designs are often exclusive to the brand, and cannot be found anywhere else except at a Tiffany & Co. retail location (or online!)

Tiffany & Co. crab brooch in platinum with diamond pavé holding a Tahitian pearl in its claws

This intricately crafted platinum, diamond and Tahitian pearl “Crab” brooch by Tiffany & Co. is a beautiful example of the kind of craftsmanship the jewelry house is known for. This vintage brooch retails for $15,000.00! Photo creditFortrove.com


Tiffany & Co.

“The Savoy Headpiece” is one of the most famous recent examples of the craftsmanship and beauty of Tiffany jewelry.


Of course, along with the exquisite goldwork, precious gemstones, and exclusive couture designs comes a steep luxury price tag!


Jewels at Tiffany & Co. average in the low-thousands to $500,000.00 and even higher!


The Savoy Headpiece shown above, which Tiffany’s created for the Great Gatsby film, retails for $200,000 last time we checked.

Before we dig too deeply into prices, let’s check out Tiffany’s pearls and examine the gems themselves to see if they’re worth the luxury price tags.


Examining Tiffany & Co. Pearl Jewelry

Tiffany’s has a pretty decent pearl jewelry collection, consisting of mostly cultured Freshwater and Japanese Akoya pearls. Like Mikimoto, they do not culture their own pearls. They purchase their gems from the same pearl farms and overseas auctions that independent retailers like Pearls of Joy source their pearls from. That said, their historical connection with both cultured and exotic natural pearls stretches back to their founding!


Vintage five-strand natural pearl and diamond bracelet by Tiffany & Co.

This Edwardian-era cultured pearl and diamond bracelet by Tiffany & Co. dates back to between 1910-1920. The close-up of the buckle-motif diamond and onyx clasp showcases the intricate and meticulous workmanship of the esteemed jewelry house. Photo courtesy of Lang Antiques


Because Tiffany & Co. has a major brand reputation to uphold, their pearls will of course be good quality: lustrous, beautifully matched and strung and with minimal surface blemishing. But it remains to be seen if the prices that are charged for Tiffany pearls are actually worth it. Let’s take a closer look!

The Major Tiffany Pearl Collections

Tiffany’s basically has 5 “main” pearl brands to choose from:

  • The Victoria Collection

  • The Ziegfeld Collection

  • Tiffany Essentials Pearl Collection

  • Tiffany's Signature Collection

  • The Paloma Picasso Collection

Each one of these collections have something special to offer pearl lovers, but there are some downsides, too — namely that luxury price tag that often comes with famous jewelers like Tiffany & Co.

Let’s briefly examine the most well-known, classic collections of pearls that Tiffany’s offers, and find out whether Tiffany is worth the price by going head-to-head with Pearls of Joy.

Please note we've left off Tiffany Signature as this collection only offers two pearl items to choose from: a pair of Akoya pearl and diamond stud earrings and an Akoya pearl and diamond-accented pendant. ln the interests of keeping things moving along, we've decided to skip this to review collections that are more heavily stocked and worth your time to consider.


The Victoria Collection

The Victoria Collection cultured Akoya pearl and diamond necklace by Tiffany and Company

The Victoria Collection is the most luxury-level pearl collection at Tiffany & Co. Consisting of White South Sea and Japanese Akoya pearls and marquis-cut diamonds mounted in platinum, this particular collection oozes elegance.

The signature designs of this collection are single pendants and earrings retailing at about $5,500.00 to $10,500.00 respectively. The crown jewel of Victoria are Akoya pearl and diamond “wreath” style necklaces (shown above) which sells for $56,000.00 —quite the pretty penny!


Victoria Collection White South Sea pearl and diamond pendant by Tiffany and Company

These are elegant and beautiful designs, and they are exclusive to Tiffany & Co., however it is possible to buy a similar style South Sea pearl and diamond pendant at half the cost here at Pearls of Joy!


White South Sea pearl and Diamond Taylor Pendant from Pearls of Joy features a similar design to the Tiffany Victoria Collection but at nearly half the cost

Of course, if you simply have to have the specific Tiffany & Co. design, then by all means go for it! We know you’ll never regret owning the Tiffany exclusive jewelry.

…On the other hand, if you are flexible on the exact design, and do not need to own a luxury brand name, then it becomes an incredibly easy choice to go with a similar style pendant or pair of South Sea pearl earrings and save yourself thousands of dollars in the process.

Shop South Sea Pearls

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The Tiffany Ziegfeld Collection

Inspired by the couture jewelry created for the Great Gatsby movie released in 2013, the Ziegfeld Collection features cultured Freshwater pearls set with sterling silver mountings and clasps, with some out-of-production pieces featuring black spinel gemstone and diamond accents.

This collection used to be much more lavishly populated, with many “Roaring Twenties” themed pearl earrings, pendants and necklaces. However Tiffany shoppers should know that the Ziegfeld Collection has been massively paired down recently.


Tiffany and Company Ziegfeld Collection Freshwater pearl tassel neckalce

This Ziegfeld Collection white Freshwater pearl tassel necklace is no longer being made — tragic!

Today shoppers can choose from a few simple “classic” pieces, like white Freshwater pearl necklaces and bracelets, along with simple Freshwater pearl earrings. The original Art Deco- designed items, like the Ziegfeld Tassel Necklace or pearl pendant and earring designs, can now only be found online at various auction sites like 1st Dibs or eBay.

And here’s where we start getting down to brass tacks when it comes to actual VALUE for brands like Tiffany & Co.

Items like the Ziegfeld 6-7 mm white Freshwater pearl necklace measuring 16-inches and finished with a sterling silver lobster clasp and branded Tiffany charm retails for …




Tiffany just took our breath away. Literally!

Frankly, that is a massive mark-up.

Ziegfeld Collection white Freshwater pearl necklace by Tiffany & Co.


Meanwhile, specialty pearl retailers like Pearls of Joy are able to offer even larger 7-8mm Freshwater pearl necklaces in the same pearl quality (and even better!) for a fraction of the price, starting at just $219.00 for the sterling silver clasp option, and $279.00 for the upgraded 14kt gold clasps.


White Freshwater Pearl Necklace from Pearls of Joy

It just goes to show that when you shop around a little, and aren’t glued to a brand name, the savings on your pearls can be substantial!

We are able to offer such an incredibly low price on the exact same pearls for a few reasons.

  • We import our pearls directly from pearl farms and jewelry auctions overseas — the same sources Tiffany’s uses — skipping out on middle-man mark-ups.
  • We exist online only. That means, we bypass the luxury boutique retail store locations in places like Beverly Hills and Manhattan, the luxury front-room staff, insurance and security that comes with a large fine jewelry brand operation.
  • We save money by not delving into the world of couture “High Jewelry” design collections like Tiffany or Mikimoto Pearls. Instead we simply focus on delivering the finest pearls at the lowest price possible for our clients.
  • Nearly all our advertising is either word-of-mouth or online-only. We are not buying large billboards, spreads in fashion magazines, or funding photoshoots with top-level models and fashion photographers.


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Additionally, our AAA quality and “Gem Grade” Freshwater pearls must meet incredibly strict standards for Surface Blemishing, Roundness of Shape, and Luster in order to qualify for the highest pearl grades in the industry. This ensures that each and every one of our clients can own some of the highest quality Freshwater necklaces, bracelets, and earrings without breaking the bank.


That all sounds pretty great, right?

Still ...

Some brand enthusiasts will want to stick with the legendary Tiffany name because of that perceived value.

And, we get it!! We really do!

Especially when it comes to those luscious Tiffany-only jewelry designs.

If we were shopping for that cute Tiffany Signature Pearls heart-shaped charm, or the famous Key Collection, then Tiffany’s is exactly where we’d go, every time.

But with some of the more classic items like white Akoya pearl necklaces, or a simple pair of pearl studs, we think most buyers would be better off spending a fraction of the price to get the same pearl quality … or better!

We can show you exactly what we mean by taking a look at the remaining Tiffany pearl collections.

The Tiffany Essentials Pearl Collection

The Essential Collection is reserved for Japanese Akoya saltwater pearls, and offers a small selection of classic white pearl necklaces and a pearl bracelet.

These high quality Akoya pearls offer everything you would expect in a pearl necklace from Tiffany & Co., namely high levels of luster, clean pearl surfaces, perfect matching for shape, color and overtones, and a pretty 18K gold clasp with engraved Tiffany charm.

That said, we can’t say for sure that this collection offers pearl buyers the best value for their money. Let me explain.


Tiffany & Co. Essentials Collection Akoya Pearl Necklace


This Essentials Akoya Pearl Necklace above measures 7.0-7.5mm (our most popular size) in an 18-inch length, and retails for $2,750.00

Using our AAA-quality Akoya pearl necklace in the exact same size and length, pearl shoppers are able to SAVE themselves over $1,500.00 by opting to go with a non-luxury-brand names like Pearls of Joy!



Note that we’re using our AAA quality Akoya pearls for a pricing comparison …

At Pearls of Joy, our AAA Akoya pearls will feature:

  • Shape: True Round, No Deviation from Perfectly Round Shape

  • Surface Quality: 95-99% Clean to the Eye. 1 Deep Inclusion Allowable for Full Strand.

  • Luster: Very High to Excellent / Mirror-Like. Mostly Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces

  • Matching: Near-Perfect to Perfect for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster

  • Nacre Thickness: Visibly Thick, No Blinking


Where Do We Get Our Pearl Grading Standards?

Pearls of Joy uses the traditional A-AAA Grading Scale, which takes into account the major Pearl Value Factors such as Shape, Size, Luster, Nacre Thickness, Surface Blemishing and Matching in order to evaluate our pearls.

Each and every pearl necklace, matched pairs of pearls for earrings, and loose pearls for pendants and earrings must meet our strict standards in order to be graded “AAA” or better for use in our pearl jewelry creations.



Going a step further, it’s possible to even surpass the beauty and quality of Tiffany’s Essential Pearl Collection, and even approach matching the quality of Mikimoto's pearls. Our “Top Grade” Certified Japanese Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklace is made with pearls of higher quality even than Tiffany’s, and they come with a gemology certificate from the Pearl Science Laboratory of Tokyo, Japan.

Hanadama Akoya pearls are certified using exacting standards, and only for pearls displaying the highest levels of nacre thickness, luster, and iridescent orient, as measured by the PSL, can qualify.

In plain terms, Hanadama Akoya represent the Top 1% of each yearly Akoya pearl harvest! A more beautiful classic pearl necklace you could never find.


Tiffany Akoya vs. Hanadama Akoya Pearls


Below is a sample of the Hanadama PSL Certificates that come with every Hanadama Pearl Necklace or pair of Hanadama Earrings.


Sample of a Hanadama Necklace Certificate


You’ll notice that the prices for our Hanadama are slightly above those of Tiffany’s Essential Collection. That’s common with PSL-certified Hanadamas, because they must meet such strict standards. But we think certification from Japan’s foremost authorities dealing in cultured Akoya pearls ensures you get the absolute best value for your money when shopping for luxury pearl jewelry.


Check out that luster and orient! These two qualities are what make Hanadama Akoya pearls some of the very best pearls in the world!


Spill of Hanadama pearls from a saki cup


If you are intrigued about the concept of Hanadama Akoya pearls and want to know more, our founder and CEO Kevin Canning can help. He put together a quick video primer giving you an overview on these luxury pearls, and showcasing how absolutely beautiful they are:


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Tiffany Paloma Picasso Pearl Collection

Paloma Picasso is one of the foremost jewelry designers currently in-house at Tiffany & Co. and has produced some really lovely nature-themed jewelry collections.


Photo of Paloma Picasso at work in her design studio

Paloma Picasso working at Tiffany & Co in the 1980s. Photo credit Tiffany & Company


The daughter of the famous artist Pablo Picasso, Ms. Picasso has been designing jewelry for Tiffany & Co. since 1979. She has been responsible for Tiffany’s edgiest and most innovative jewelry designs for decades, most notably with her Olive Leaf Collections, which feature gold and platinum olive-leaf motifs, accented with sparkling diamonds, precious gemstones and cultured pearls.

Let’s see if it’s worth it!


Paloma Picasso Olive Leaf Collection Freshwater Pearl Dangle Earrings


As you can see in the screenshot above, we’ve got a pair of 8-9 mm Freshwater pearl drops designed by Ms. Picasso. They are, of course, beautifully matched in shape, size, surface quality, luster and overtone. They are beautiful pearls that are at MAXIMUM worth $80.00 … retail.


Tiffany’s sells them for $600.00


The sterling silver Olive Leaf Collection dangle earring mountings are exclusive, copyrighted designs that can’t be replicated anywhere else. They may be priceless, if you just HAVE to have Ms. Picasso’s designs. And we wouldn’t blame you, Ms. Picasso’s designs are really pretty! But this seems like a bit of overreach when it comes to jewelry markups.

Another example of this is the Olive Leaf Collection Freshwater pearl pendant cast in solid 18K gold, with a relatively small 5-6 mm Freshwater pearl as the center stone.

For $750.00


Paloma Picasso's Olive Leaf Freshwater Pearl Pendant in 18K Yellow Gold


Yes, exclusive designers can (and should!) charge for exclusive designs, but at this point we’re getting into 5000% markup territory, which …. HMMMMMM.

There are myriad Freshwater pearl pendant designs out there to choose from that use smooth, high quality pearls, precious gemstone accents, are cast in solid 14K and 18K gold and cost way less!

Like … in the $350 range or less. 


Freshwater Pearl Pendant in Tear Drop Pendant mounting by Pearls of Joy


Cultured Freshwater pearls from China are generally considered to be not very expensive (there are exceptions today of course, but in this case let’s stick with dealing with the “usual” pearl options here), and range in wholesale cost from $1.00 on a loose-pearl basis, to the low $100 to $1000s for high quality matched pearl strands that we use to make into necklaces depending on the size.

Our Final Thoughts

Look, we’re not trying to tear down the Tiffany brand in any way. Tiffany pearls are expensive for a reason ⁠— you get the reputation, impeccable craftsmanship, and unique exclusive designs.

But at some point, we do have to acknowledge that purchasing pearl jewelry from these major brand name luxury retailers can get extremely expensive, and may not always be worth the price you’re paying.

For those not looking to purchase the iconic name of Tiffany & Co., pearl shoppers can look at and potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars with a little research.


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