Pearl Value

The 6 Cultured Pearl Quality Factors

The pearls are one of the most attractive ornaments. You can buy pearls in any market across the world.  But, before going to purchase pearls, do try to know a few basic things about this precious ornament. Knowing these facts will help you in evaluating the quality of the pearl. There are six important things, you should be aware of while buying pearls. Most of the traders sell low quality pearls to make easy money.  Don’t fall prey to their malicious motives.

The following are the six factors you have to keep in mind while purchasing pearl:

  • Nacre
  • Luster
  • Surface
  • Shapes
  • Color
  • Size
Pearl Nacre

The smooth surface of the pearl is a result of nacre, a natural substance secreted by mollusks over an obtrusive irritant nucleus. The more the smoothness of the surface, the more the gorgeous the pearl is. The beauty of the pearl is displayed through nacre, which is also said to be the mother of the pearl. The strong, resilient nacre is lightweight and translucent. It allows light to pass through its surface and that creates a gentle glow on the surface of the pearl. If the thickness of the nacre layer is more, the pearl is considered to be more valuable. For example the nacre layer is thick in case of Akoya and it is one of the best pearl as it has the highest luster and greatest shine of all cultivated pearls.

If you are buying pearls, assess pearls on flat surface. Pearls are rated as excellent, good, fair, and poor depending on the thickness of nacre. Nacre thickness can be classified as following standards:

  • Very thick: A ≥0.6mm
  • Thick: B ≥0.5mm
  • Medium: C ≥0.4mm
  • Thin: D ≥0.3mm
  • Very thin: E <0.3mm 
Pearl Luster

Pearl luster provides the real beauty to the precious material. The luster is the unexplained inner shine that seems to originate from the center of a truly high-quality pearl.  The luster is nothing but the combination of exterior reflection and a glow that comes from within - from the several layers of nacre developed in due course inside an oyster. 

Pearls with elevated luster will normally illustrate the following distinctiveness when observed under an uncovered light with the naked eye.

  • Strong reflections of light
  • Sharp reflections of light

Good distinction between the bright and shady areas of the pearl

Pearl Luster

Pearl Shape

Pearls are available in various shapes such as round, slightly round, button, drop, Baroque, Circle etc. however, most of the pearls appear in round shape. Sometimes, pearls develop with one or more grooves or rings surrounding them. Such types of pearls are called as ringed or circled. But, a perfectly round pearl is the rarest among all cultured pearls. Perfectly round and slightly round pearls are the most demanded ones. Customers desire for symmetrical shapes more than baroque shapes.
Pearl Shape

Pearl Shape GRADE A AA AAA
Lustre Medium to Good Good to High High
Nacre Medium
Medium to Thick
Thick to Very Thick
Blemishes Light Slight Slight to Clean*
Shape Slightly off round
to round
Slightly off round to
mostly round
Matching Good Good to Very Good Very Good
Pearl Surface

Pearls with smooth surface are costlier. But no two pearls have similar surface. Though people always want to have perfect pearls, often the flaw on the pearl shows its originality. Blemishes on the pearl help the customers in differentiating the original pearl from the artificial ones. Actually, if a pearl grows longer inside the oyster, the chances of its irregular shape is more and it gets blemishes too. Hence if the size of the pearl is large, a few imperfections should not lessen its value.
Few characteristics of surface qualities are as follows:

  • Abrasions - scratches that have an effect on the luster or color of the pearl
  • Spots - slight variations in color
  • Bumps - small bubbles on the pearl surface
  • Wrinkles – if the nacre is not smooth.

Pearl Surface

Pearl Color

The pearls are available in a wide range of colors starting from white, yellow, golden, pink, blue, black, lavender, multicolor and just any other color you can think of in between. Though the color of the pearl is mostly silver-white, any other color can also occur. Pearls have a coloring effect known as ‘orient’. It refers to any sparkling, glittering colors that swirl, move, and shine, with the change of light or the movement of the pearl.  This effect is a consequence of the reflecting of beam all over the different nacre layers that create the pearl.

Though the color of the pearl doesn’t have any significant impact on the quality and price of the precious gems, the color should be chosen in such a way that it suits the body color of the wearer.

 Pearl Color

Pearl Size

When evaluating the quality of the pearl, size also plays an important role. The bigger the size, the more valuable the pearl is. The diameter of a pearl is measured in millimeters. The measurement varies from 2 to 20mm and refined to the adjacent 0.5 mm.

Usually, Akoya pearls are available in ranges from 2.0mm to 11.0mm) and Freshwater pearls from 2.0mm to 15.0mm. These are pearls of small size and Tahitian or South Sea pearls can be available in sizes ranging from 9.0mm to 20.0mm. However, the worth of the size in fact depends on how atypical the pearl is. For example: Akoya pearls are not large in shape like Tahitian ones. Hence one large Akoya pearl will be costlier than a Tahitian pearl of similar size.

Pearl Size

Some pearls professionals tell which type of pearls suitable one persons like color, shape, size.