Types of Pearls and Their Value

By: Yan Berry

Types of Pearls and Their Value
Six factors that contribute to the value of a pearl:

  • 1) Luster- the Essence of Pearl Beauty
    Pearls gain their unique beauty from the play of light reflecting through layers of fine crystalline nacre gradually deposited by an oyster. Nearly transparent nacre gives the deepest luster and the highest reflection. A high-quality pearl will have a brilliant even reflection with a fine warm glow or radiance. Lower quality pearls have a dull sheen.

    High-quality Akoya saltwater pearls have a higher luster than South Sea or Tahitian pearls, which tend to have a softer, more diffuse reflection.

  • 2) Color and Overtones
    The dominant color of a pearl comes from the main reflection from the pearl surface. The deeper reflected light draws the inner color from the pearl, called the overtone.

    Light colored pearls are available in shades of white, cream, and golden. White with pink or silver overtones are generally the most valuable. The most desirable dark colored pearls are black with green or blue overtones. Color matching is also important when buying pearl jewelry. Perfectly matched pearls in color and size are more valuable than poorly matched pearls.
  • 2) Shape and Surface Texture
    The highest quality pearls are perfectly round with smooth surface, very few surface imperfections, and even coloration. Lower quality pearls may be nearly round, or show more surface imperfections, such as wrinkles or large pits on the surface.
  • 3) Pearl Size and Necklace Length
    The pearls in a strand are measured in a range, such as 7-7.5mm. They are strung with the largest pearls at the center of the necklace and gradually smaller towards the clasp. Larger pearls are more valuable and they create a more dramatic look. High-quality pearls larger than 9 mm are scarce and very expensive.

The classic and most common pearl necklace length is the 17-19 inch princess. It is a good choice for a first pearl necklace because it can be worn with many things.

Pearl Types
There are four types of pearls

  1. Classic Akoya Pearls
  2. Large Exotic Black Tahitian Pearls
  3. Large Golden or White South Sea Pearls
  4. Inexpensive Decorative Freshwater Pearls

The above four types of pearls are all cultured pearls. Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls grow in ocean saltwater so they are also called saltwater pearls. Akoya pearls are the most popular type for their appealing high luster, luxury and affordability.

Decide Pearl Quality
Pearls usually have four grades

  • AAA and AAA+
    These are the higest quality pearls. They are the most desired pearls for gifts. They have high luster and very clean surface skins.
  • AA quality pearls have medium luster and slight to medium surface imperfection. They are ideal gifts for someone who will be happy to own a piece of fine pearl jewelry.
  • A quality pearls have low luster and medium to heavy blemishes. They are not popular for gifts due to their low quality.

Pearls are an enduring classic of romantic beauty and sophistication. 

It is suitable for almost any occasions or celebrations. Pearls may be worn with formal eveningwear, with a business suit, or casually with a sweater and jeans. The official June birthstone provides an ideal choice for brides, young women looking for a touch of elegance, or a cherished gift for birthday, Christmas, graduation, sweet-sixteen, anniversary, or just to say I love you.

Once rare and expensive, modern cultured pearls have become an affordable luxury.

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