In the market, there is a wide range of pearl jewellery and it is often very difficult to tell and determine the quality of the pearls. Very often, customers are confused with price differences, too. Here is our quick guide to pearl grades that you might want to take into consideration.
Although the most reputable pearl sellers use the A, AA, AAA grading system, it is also important to know following standards and important factors:
Round pearls are the rarest and the highest priced. The term ’round’ does not mean spherical like a marble but the pearls should not look obviously oval or flattened to the naked eye. Wild pearls are rarely round, so different shapes may mean they are more natural. However this is very important parameter for pearl grades.
it is the shine that gives pearls their beauty and is an important buying factor. Lustre refers to the pearls brilliance – the way it’s surface reflects light.
Pearls with low lustre appear chalky, yellow or dull. Poor lustre pearls are sometimes coated or laquered to improve their appearance but such treatments are only a temporary fix.
Pearls are a natural product and, small natural imperfections are quite acceptable – even desirable. Unacceptable faults include cracks or holes in the surface and thin or flaking nacre.
Types of pearls:
Another confusing factor when buying pearls and understanding pearl grades is the wide range of prices for different kinds of pearls. That depends on and effort invested to harvest and culture the pearls. Culturing pearls is time consuming procedure and approximately 50% of seaded pearls survive. In another words: good quality pearls can’t be cheap!
Molluscs are implanted with small pieces of tissue instead of a shell bead. When harvested, the tissue has gone, leaving a solid pearl. Wild pearls are formed without the intervention of man and therefore are prized by connoisseurs and a necklace made with natural pearls will be worth many times more than it’s cultured pearl equivalent. Cultured pearls share the same properties as wild pearls. The difference is that a technician opens the shell and inserts the irritant which stimulates nacre production.
Natural pearls begin their lives as pieces of debris that unintentionally enter a mollusk’s shell. In an effort to defend itself, the mollusk secretes several coats of nacre. Baroque versions get their shapes naturally when the original debris becomes lodged in the mollusk’s muscle tissue.
The result of this organic process is a large baroque pearl, familiar to the Romans and Elizabethans. Many baroques have pits, cracks, holes, and miscolouration – flaws unacceptable today. Those baroques are cheap, but if you want a look prized by connoisseurs and celebrities, it’s top-quality baroque pearls.