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How Much Do Pearls Cost?

The dozens of vendors available on the market today can leave many shoppers looking for high quality pearls find themselves wondering … “Just how much do pearls COST anyway?!” And not only that but, “How do you determine the value of a pearl?”

A string of pearls can cost as little as $10 and as much as $100,000. That’s a huge range, and it’s affected by factors like pearl type and rarity, pearl quality, size, color and shape. Aside from the gems themselves, jewelry design, the designer and the vendor who is selling strings of pearls will also affect the final price.

 

Model with dark hair wearing a South Sea pearl necklace

 

Saltwater Akoya pearls, for example, are going to be nearly twice as expensive as cultured Freshwater pearl strands from China. White and Golden South Sea pearl necklaces will be 3-4 times as expensive as the Akoyas!

To make things even more complicated, a very large string of Japanese Akoya pearls measuring 10.0 mm to -10.5 mm is going to be more expensive than a strand of White South Sea pearls in the same size! This is because the Japanese Akoya pearls in that size are MUCH more rare than the White South Seas.

Obviously, this topic can get more than a little confusing!!

That’s why we’re going to make simplify things as much as possible.

This guide will begin by establishing the value of pearls based on the jewelry style, e.g. necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc., then we’ll break it down further by pearl type, quality and size.

If you’re only interested in jumping right to a particular topic, use the links in the Table of Contents below to get what you need immediately. 

Let’s get ready to review “how much are pearls worth” with our Pearl Price Guide.

 


What Makes Pearls Valuable?

What Makes Pearls Valuable?

 

Simply put, pearls get their value from their beauty, which stems from their luster, iridescence, shape and clean surface quality. These are called Value Factors, and they are what experts use to evaluate real pearls and determine how much are pearls worth.

Pearls are known for being lustrous gems, and pearl luster — the ability to reflect light and objects like a mirror — is probably the most important value factor of all. Pearls with dull or chalky luster are not worth much, regardless of their size, and pearls with excellent luster are valuable pearls, even if they are on the small side.

Pearls with iridescence — that shimmery rainbow effect visible on the pearl’s surface, also called orient — will be more valuable than pearls without any iridescence at all. Both Hanadama Akoya pearls and South Sea pearls in particular are known for displaying this dazzling quality.

Perfectly round pearls are the most valuable of all pearl shapes, followed closely by smooth, symmetrical tear-drops, near-round button-shapes, then off-rounds, and finally baroque pearl shapes. Round pearls are much more rare, and represent only 5% of any pearl harvest, while baroque pearls can consist of up to 40-60% of a pearl harvest.

Finally, pearls with clean surfaces are higher quality and more valuable than pearls with inclusions like pits, bumps, wrinkles, etc. All pearls will display some kind of surface inclusion, even if it’s so tiny you can only see it under a loupe or a microscope. But all things considered, pearls with cleaner surfaces will cost more.

Other value factors, such as pearl origin (whether natural or cultured), size, and color also play an important part in determining the value of a pearl. However, all things being equal, real pearls with higher luster, more iridescence, less blemishing and desirable shapes will be worth more, even if another pearl is larger in size.

 

📢 Read More: Pearl Grading Guide


How Much Does a Real Pearl Necklace Cost?

White Pearl Necklace and Earrings with Baby's Breath Flowers

 

The price for a real pearl necklace will range anywhere from $100 to $10,000 and more. A strand of lower quality, small Freshwater pearls, for example, will start right around $100 or so, while the highest quality Hanadama Akoya pearl strands in the largest sizes top out around $10,000 to $11,000.

Higher-end pearl types like Tahitian or South Sea pearls will start at $2,500 and, well, the sky's the limit in terms of costs! We’ve routinely seen South Sea strands reach $100,000 or more for the larger, highest quality pearls.

 

Shop Our Favorite Pearl Necklaces


How Much Do Real Pearl Earrings Cost?

White Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings

 

A pair of real pearl earrings will cost $30 to $8,000 and higher depending on the type of pearl and the jewelry design you want to buy.

Simple, classic pearl stud earrings in a fine quality should range from $150 to $2,000 without any extra bells and whistles, and staying within a versatile size range under 11.0 mm.

Luxury pearl types such as Tahitians, or a pair of South Sea earrings, will start around $350 and go up from there.

Pro Tip: When you go to buy pearls, keep in mind that the price of pearls begins to increase exponentially with each millimeter size over 7.5 mm, because all things being equal, the bigger pearls are rarer and more expensive.

 

Shop Our Favorite Pearl Earrings


How Much Does a Real Pearl Bracelet Cost?

White Pearl Bracelet with White Gold Clasp on Glass

 

A real pearl bracelet costs anywhere from $85 to $4,000 and up for very high quality luxury pearl types. You can expect to pay an average of $150 to $2,000 for a classic white pearl bracelet, with Freshwater bracelets on the lower -end and PSL Certified Hanadama Akoya pearls in the higher pricing tiers.

Again, luxury pearl types like Tahitian and South Sea pearls will be priced much higher, ranging from $500 to $4,000 and up, depending on a variety of factors. 

 

Shop Our Favorite Pearl Bracelets


Pearl Prices by Pearl Type

Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are saltwater pearls that are grown primarily in Japan. They are known for being the classic white pearl type, with perfectly spherical shapes, mirror-like luster, perfect matching and smaller, versatile sizes suitable for a wide variety of ages and occasions. When most people want to buy a pearl necklace or other styles of pearl jewelry, they are most often thinking of the famous Japanese saltwater pearls!

 

How Much Do Akoya Necklaces Cost?

A strand of Akoya pearls will cost anywhere from $300 to $11,000 or more for extremely fine, very large strands. The average price runs between $500 and $2,000 for our most popular sizes and AA+ or AAA pearl qualities.

 

White Akoya Pearl Necklaces with Yellow Gold Clasp and Purple Flowers Scattered Around

 

For the most popular Akoya pearl necklaces at Pearls of Joy, you can expect to pay:

Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklaces

For a certified, “Top Range” Hanadama Akoya pearl necklace from Pearls of Joy, prices start at $2,099 for the smallest 6.0 mm to 6.5 mm size and go up to $11,759 for our largest and rarest pearl size, 9.5 mm to 10.0 mm.

While Hanadama pearl strands do cost more than our regular AA+ and AAA quality Akoya pearls, we think the incredible luster, surface quality and shining iridescence of these pearls make them more than worth it!

Sporting brilliant, glossy luster, a smooth pearl surface, iridescent orient and thick nacre layers, we think Hanadama pearls are some of the highest quality pearl jewelry you can buy today.

 

Handful of Hanadama Akoya Pearls


The Perfect Strand of Pearls

Fine Japanese Hanadama Pearls

The perfect strand of pearls... Is it possible?


Perfectly round, beautifully matched, with a mirror like luster – Certified Japanese Hanadama Akoya pearls can’t be matched for quality and high-end appeal. This is the classic pearl necklace.  


How Much Do Akoya Earrings Cost?

A pair of Akoya pearl earrings will cost you between $150 to $3,000 and up, especially for luxury brands like Tiffany or Mikimoto!

For a pair of classic pearl stud earrings, expect to spend about $200 to $600 or so for the most popular sizes and pearl qualities.

 

A pair of white Akoya pearl earrings on a blue geode slice

 

The most popular Akoya pearl stud earrings at Pearls of Joy will cost:

Certified Hanadama pearls will be slightly more expensive, starting at $439 for the smallest certified pearl size of 7.0 mm to 7.5 mm, and running up through $1,470 for the largest, rarest size of 9.5 mm to 10.0 mm.

The Hanadama Collection are the highest quality pearls from each Akoya pearl harvest., They’re very similar to the luxury quality that you would expect to find at such famous jewelry names as the Mikimoto Pearl Company, but at significantly less expense.

 

Shop Our Most Popular Hanadama Earrings



Freshwater Pearls


How Much Do Freshwater Necklaces Cost?

Freshwater pearl strands cost anywhere between $189 for the smallest pearl size of 6.5 mm to 7.0 mm, up to $4,400 for the largest, highest quality size of 11.5 mm to 12.0 mm.

The average price range for a strand of Freshwater pearls in the most popular sizes range from $219 up to $730 for our Gem Quality Freshwater pearls.

 

Multicolored Freshwater Pearl Necklace with Pink Pearl Earrings

 

When buying Freshwater pearls, the quality is EVERYTHING.

Quality determines how round or round-to-the-eye the pearls will appear to both you and other people seeing your necklace. Lower quality Freshwater strands will appear visibly ovalish in shape, and get progressively rounder to the eye with each step up in pearl quality.

When shopping for a Freshwater necklace, prices will vary according to the quality you choose, whether AAA or AAAA/Gem Quality pearls.

The Gem Grade Freshwater pearl strands from Pearls of Joy will have that classic round shape that approaches the perfect roundness of saltwater Akoya pearls. We enthusiastically recommend Gem Grade Freshwater pearls for shoppers looking to save while retaining that “Akoya look”, or who want to nab an affordable strand in the larger size ranges.

Another point of interest is that, with the Freshwater pearl type, you have a range of beautiful pearl colors to choose from, such as pink, peach, lavender and, of course, the classic white pearls.

 

Shop Our Most Popular Freshwater Pearls



How Much Do Freshwater Earrings Cost?

A pair of Freshwater earrings will cost anywhere from $149 for a perfectly round, high quality pair of studs in the smallest sizes, to $1,500 or more for larger pearls with ornate designs and diamond accents.

The average price range for a pair of simple Freshwater pearl studs in the most popular sizes will range from $149 to $340.

 

White Freshwater Pearl Pairs Matched for Earrings

 

The most popular AAA quality and Gem Quality Freshwater pearl stud earrings by size are priced as follows:

 

Shop Our Most Popular Freshwater Pearl Earrings



Tahitian Pearls


How Much Do Tahitian Necklaces Cost?

A Tahitian pearl necklace will cost anywhere from $650 to $50,000 and up depending on factors like pearl quality, shape, size, color and overtone rarity, and jewelry design. For example, baroque-shaped Tahitians (pearls that are irregularly shaped) are significantly less expensive than perfectly round Tahitian pearl strands.

The average price you can expect to pay for a baroque Tahitian necklace ranges from $600 to $2,000 or so.

Average Tahitian necklace prices for totally round pearls start around $2,000 and then go up from there. For a fine quality, perfectly round Tahitian strand we recommend budgeting between $3,000 to $5,000.

 

Colorful Baroque Tahitian Double Strand Necklace on White Jewelry Bust

 

Tahitian pearls are naturally dark pearls grown in the tropical islands of French Polynesia. They are produced exclusively by the black-lipped saltwater oyster, pinctada margaritifera, which can reach up to 12 -inches in diameter at maturity.

Tahitians are famous for their naturally occurring colors, wide range of large pearl sizes, and array of shapes. Tahitian pearl shapes range from totally free-form, asymmetrical baroque pearls, to circled pearls (shown above), smooth tear-drops, and perfectly round pearls, which are the rarest of all, comprising under 5% of each yearly pearl harvest.

When shopping for a Tahitian pearl necklace, it’s important to note that each strand of pearls is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation … there are no two strands that are exactly alike! Because these black pearls are so unique, pricing for Tahitian strands is done on an individual basis, so unlike saltwater Akoya or cultured Freshwater pearl types, it’s very difficult to list a range of common necklace sizes and their price ranges.


Shop Our Favorite Tahitian Necklaces



How Much Do Tahitian Earrings Cost?

A pair of Tahitian earrings will cost anywhere from $200 to $10,000, depending on a variety of factors like rarity, size, pearl quality and specific jewelry design or brand.

The average price range you can expect to pay for a pair of fine quality round Tahitian pearl stud earrings in the most popular sizes is from $325 to $750.

 

Black Tahitian Pearl Earrings with Yelloow Gold Posts on Pink Fabric Background

 

The most popular Tahitian earring sizes and prices are as follows:


Shop Our Most Popular Tahitian Earrings


White and Golden South Sea Pearls


How Much Do South Sea Necklaces Cost?

South Sea necklaces cost between $1,000 and $5,000 for baroque-shaped pearl strands and $3,000 to $100,000 or more for round, fine quality pearls. As with Tahitian strands, there are a ton of different factors at play in determining a necklace’s price: pearl quality, size, shape, color and overtone rarity, the design of the jewelry and the brand name.

For example, you will routinely see necklaces attaining ultra-high price tags close to $100,000 or more at luxury jewelers like Tiffany & Company or Mikimoto’s, which can easily demand a higher price due to their status as legendary brand names.

As with Tahitian necklaces, these strands are all priced individually, so it is difficult to quote a precise pricing range, but we recommend budgeting approximately $1,600 to $3,500 for a high quality baroque necklace, and $5,000 to $10,000 for a fine quality, round necklace.

 

Baroque Golden South Sea Pearl Necklace on White Jewelry But

 

The most luxurious and largest of all pearl types, South Sea pearls are cultured in the pinctada maxima saltwater pearl oyster, which can grow to over a foot in diameter, producing pearls that range in size from 8.0 mm up to 20.0 mm and sometimes even larger!

Known as the Queen of Cultured Pearls, White South Sea pearls are mostly farmed in northwestern Australia which is known to produce the finest white pearl color. The largest pearl farming operation for South Sea pearls in the world is the Paspaley Group based out of Broome, Australia.

Golden South Sea pearls are most often farmed in the Philippine Islands, and the pearls are famous for their naturally occurring colors of pale yellows to deep, saturated 24K Golden tones.

South Sea pearls take over 3 years each to grow inside their host oyster, and so creating a fully matched strand of pearls can take many years to complete. This is one reason why a pearl necklace from Australia or the Philippines is among the most expensive (and beautiful!!) strands you can buy today.

 

Shop Our Stunning South Sea Necklace Collection



How Much Do South Sea Pearl Earrings Cost?

A pair of South Sea pearl earrings will cost anywhere from $200 to $30,000 or more depending on size, quality, earring design, and, of course, who you buy them from!

On average, a pair of White or Golden South Sea pearl earrings at Pearls of Joy should cost between $350 for the very smallest sizes and baroque styles, up to $3,000 for larger pearl earrings with and without diamond accents.

We recommend budgeting approximately $700 to $1,500 for “standard” size pearl stud earrings.

 

White South Sea Pearl and Diamond Stud Earrings on a Model with Dark Hair

 

The most popular earring sizes will cost:

 

If you choose to buy earrings from luxury retailers or high-end pearl brands like Assael, Paspaley or Jewelmer, you should know that you will pay significantly more than if you bought your pearl earrings at a specialty boutique like Pearls of Joy.

Our founder Kevin Canning sources our gems directly from the pearl farmers and overseas auctions each year. As a specialty boutique company, we operate without the high overhead and operating costs larger organizations require.

High-end brand names routinely charge 300-500% mark-ups on their jewelry; while you absolutely will get some very high quality, lovely pearl earrings, you will also end up paying a steep premium for that brand name prestige.

 

Shop Our Most Popular South Sea Pearl Earrings


Real Pearl Worth and Value

When determining how much your pearls are worth, it’s crucial to understand whether you’re purchasing real cultured pearls, natural pearls or fake pearls. Both natural and cultured pearls are real pearls, and can be worth quite a lot!

Man-made imitation and synthetic pearls are fake pearls that are not created by oysters or other molluscs. They’re usually made of plastic, glass or crystal, and not worth very much at all. There are some exceptions: high quality imitation pearls, like shell pearls, or Mallorca pearls, can still cost a pretty penny. It’s important to know how to spot fake pearls like shell pearls or Swarovsky crystal pearls so you don’t get fooled into buying imitations rather than real pearl jewelry.

 

Cultured Pearls

The most affordable and easily acquired pearl jewelry today is made with cultured pearls. (Natural pearls, which are created without human intervention, are incredibly rare, and virtually nonexistent on the modern market.) Cultured pearlscan cost anywhere from a few dollars for beading quality Freshwater pearls, to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the largest, most luxurious jewelry styles.

 

White cultured pearl necklace on a pink tray with a marble countertop

 

Cultured pearls are worth less than natural pearls, which can reach astronomical prices considering their rarity and value. Cultured pearls are grown on pearl farms where technicians and farmers grow their pearls using modern pearliculture techniques.

Cultured pearls are definitely real pearls grown inside various saltwater oyster species and Freshwater pearl mollusks. However, they are created with the assistance of human beings and are not an accident of nature like wild pearls found at random.

The cultured pearl industry is based upon tried-and-true techniques that allows pearl farmers, wholesalers and retailers to stabilize pricing across the most popular types of pearls. This brings stability to the worldwide pearl markets, so that cultured pearl jewelry is easily affordable for pearl shoppers.

 

Natural Pearls

For most of human history, natural pearls were the only real pearls available. They were very rare, and very, very valuable. At some points in history, only royalty and the nobility were legally allowed to own pearls!

This is because the formation of a pearl within pearl-bearing oysters is actually quite a rare phenomenon. It is even more rare to find large pearls in desirable colors and shapes.

 

Portrait of Marie Antoinette with her Natural Pearl and Diamond Pendant/Brooch Outset

French queen Marie Antoinette and her infamous natural pearl pendant-brooch. This natural tear drop pearl is currently the record holder for one of the most expensive natural saltwater pearls in the world, fetching a staggering $36 million at auction in 2018.

 

Natural pearls are pearls that are formed within the oyster on their own, without any human intervention. This usually occurs when a parasite like a worm or a bit of flotsam gets inside the oyster, causing the soft body of the animal discomfort. The oyster responds by coating the irritant with layers of iridescent nacre, eventually creating a pearl, a process that takes many years to decades to complete.

The most valuable natural pearls had smooth, symmetrical shapes (with round white pearls being the most valued!), high luster and a desirable color like white, or dark pearls with natural black hues.

Throughout history, pearl divers scoured wild oyster beds the world over, hunting for lustrous pearls. Over time, the lust for oyster pearls depleted the world’s natural oyster populations, nearly driving the entire species to extinction. Finding pearls became harder and harder, with divers and ships heading farther and farther into the deep waters of the ocean to locate oyster beds to fish. Eventually, pearl diving was almost banned before the advent of modern pearl culturing techniques in the early 1900s.

Today, Natural pearls are the most expensive pearls in the world, and can cost anywhere from the low thousands to millions of dollars, depending on where the pearls came from. When shopping for natural pearls, we recommend doing some major research first, and then start looking at vintage pearl jewelry at a reputable estate jewelers.

 

Long Term Pearl Value

Both cultured pearls and natural pearls will retain their value throughout the years if properly cared for. But to be perfectly frank, most natural pearls will always be worth more due to their rarity and historical provenance.

That said, cultured pearls can increase in value over time if the pearls are of a rare large size, have a very fine surface quality, an especially unique design, or a historical brand name that is in high demand on the estate jewelry markets. (Pro tip: don’t lose your paperwork if you own a strand of Mikimoto pearls!!)

Because farmers harvest pearls in the thousands of kilos each year, most cultured pearls will not gain dramatically in value like natural pearls. This is simply a matter of rarity and market demand within the jewelry industry.

Cultured pearl jewelry should be purchased for its unique sentimental value. If handled with loving care, your jewelry can be passed down generation to generation.

When deciding how much to spend on your lustrous gems, we highly recommend researching your vendor options to make sure you are getting the most value for your budget. Invest some time in understanding the various pearl types, their quality, and their pricing tiers. Always make sure your purchase is backed by a reliable return and exchange policy.

 

Owner of Pearls of Joy Kevin Canning examines a pearl with ocean in the background

 

Our founder Kevin Canning has been specializing in the import of different types of pearls from around the world for over 20 years. We pride ourselves on bringing our customers only the very best in cultured pearl jewelry at up to 80% below the prices of the major brand name retailers.

Our knowledgeable pearl experts are here to help you with any questions about our pearls and our jewelry. Backed by our 100 Day Return and Exchange Guarantee, we are completely confident you’re going to love buying pearl jewelry from Pearls of Joy!

 

The Perfect Strand of Pearls

Fine Japanese Akoya Pearls

The perfect strand of pearls... Is it possible?


Perfectly round, beautifully matched, with a mirror like luster – Japanese Akoya pearls can’t be matched for quality and high-end appeal. This is the classic pearl necklace.  


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