3 Best Buying Tips for Pearls

Posted June 17, 2022 by in Fashion
vintage peals and lace next to a tea cup

Fine pearls are some of the most desired gemstones in the jewelry world. They’re also some of the least understood pieces of jewelry when it comes to identifying their type, and understanding grading scales and value. When looking for fine pearls there are many things one must consider before investing hundreds and thousands of dollars into a pair of pearl earrings or a fine pearl necklace. You should consider doing a little research if you want to find the best pearls based on their color, quality, and style.

Since looking for the best pearls to add to your collection can be a bit of a daunting task, we’ll help you figure out what you need to look for before purchasing them.

Read on to learn a few buying tips that can help you easily select the perfect pearls according to your taste:

Pearls, sunglasses, sun hat, and journal laid out on white sweater

Choose the right pearl type

If you’re looking to buy the perfect pearl necklaces & strands, you need to decide whether they will be Akoya, Tahitian, freshwater, or South Sea pearls. Each type of fine pearl has its own unique beauty, color, size, and luster. For instance, if you’re looking for perfectly round pearls that are bright and have an excellent luster, then Akoya pearls are the perfect choice for you.

However, if you’re looking for a more exotic type of pearls then black Tahitian pearls would be the best fit. Each type of pearl is distinctive and unique, so no matter what type you choose what’s important is how you’ll decide to wear them. Keep in mind that pearls have always been a part of great style and elegance, and they’re one of the most beloved timeless pieces of jewelry. You can take inspiration from fashion icons such as Coco Chanel and wear some extravagant layered strings of white pearls.

Value factors to consider

Cultured pearls usually come in a wide range of qualities. Understanding the characteristics and value of pearls can help you search with confidence and find the ones that are right for you. There are a few value factors you need to keep in mind when judging a pearl’s quality, including shape, size, color, and luster.

  • Shape. From perfectly round to baroque, oval, and drop, there are a few shapes you might find interesting, fashionable, and fun to wear.
  • Size. Pearls are usually measured in millimeters and the size varies depending on their type, growth period, and rarity. The most popular sizes usually range from 7.0 to 9.5 mm and are considered the most traditional and versatile pearl sizes to purchase.
  • Color. Pearls come in an array of beautiful colors, including white, cream, pink, yellow, green, blue, and black. However, there are plenty of shades in between. High-value colors for Akoya pearls are white and silver. For Freshwater, white and lavender. Since Tahitian pearls are unique, you can find peacock and aborigine pearls. Deep golden, for instance, is South Sea pearls’ most prized color.
  • Luster. This is the sharpness and intensity of the light reflected from a pearl’s surface. It’s probably the most important value factor when judging a pearl’s quality. The more lustrous a pearl is, the shaper and brighter its reflection would be. Note that pearls with high luster are often regarded as more valuable.

Distinguish between real and fake pearls

Real pearls are formed when a mollusk (oyster, mussel, clam) has an irritant enter its shell, and in defense, it produces layers of fluid around the irritant. This process takes between 5-10 years, and the result are beautiful luminous beads. Natural pearls, for instance, are extremely rare, and there are very few on the market today.

Cultured pearls, on the other hand, make up the majority of pearls on the market. These types of pearls are formed in the same way as natural pearls, however, the irritant is surgically placed into the mollusk and protected in pearl farms while it develops. 

Imitation pearls are made from glass beads that are dipped into a solution made from fish scales, and while most have high luster, they might eventually fade. You can test pearls to see whether they’re real or fake by rubbing one against another or trying the “tooth test”. Cultured pearls will feel gritty, while the imitation ones glide across each other.

pearl earrings next to  dried baby's breath

If you want to purchase real pearls, make sure you purchase from a retailer that specializes in pearls, and a company with a solid return policy. You don’t have to get hung up on brand names, just don’t forget to check if the pearls you’re buying are real or imitation. Make sure you properly take care of pearls if you want them to last a lifetime.