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How to Choose Pearls

When you buy natural or cultured pearls, you should consider the following 5 factors – Lustre, Surface, Shape, Size and Colour.

LUSTRE

Lustre is an intense glow within the pearl as a result of nacre quality. Lustre is the most important of the 5 factors because it's the quality that's most visible. A pearl’s price is greatly affected by the grading of the lustre. As nacre thickness increases, so does the quality and durability of the pearl.
The depth of the nacre coating depends on the type of creature involved as well, the water it lives in, and how long the intruder is left in place before it is removed.

When picking out pearls, look at the clarity of images that are reflected in the pearl’s surface. A fine pearl will reflect your image like a mirror, also the light seems to glow warmly from inside.

SURFACE

Look at the surface of the pearl. Fewer surface imperfections indicate a higher quality, more valuable pearl. However even the most high quality ones, subtle blemishes and tiny marks are part of a pearl's natural texture and proof of its genuine origin.

SHAPE

  • Round - traditionally the most highly favoured and valuable. Before cultured pearls were produced, it could take years to make a matching necklace with natural pearls. A perfect round shape pearl will have the highest grading value while slight off-round imperfections will have a lower grading.
  • Oval - looks like an egg. They look lovely strung end to end.
  • Button - looks like a slightly flattened round pearl. They can be strung into necklaces but more often used in single pendants or earrings.
  • Teardrop, Drop or Pear - most often seen in earrings, pendants, or as a center pearl in a necklace.
  • Baroque - irregularly shaped pearls. They are often the least expensive category of pearls, but are unique and often quite beautiful. They are usually seen in necklaces and sometimes earrings. Purchasing baroque shapes is a great starting place for your collection.
  • Circled - characterized by concentric ridges, or rings, around the body of the pearl.
  • Rice - look like rice crispies and are usually used in mass amounts on twisted strands or with other stones.

SIZE

Size of cultural pearls are measured in millimetres (diametre). Generally, the larger the higher the price because large pearls are more difficult to cultivate. However size does not always affect the “quality” and value of cultured pearls.

The Akoya pearl generally ranges from 3mm to 10mm. South Sea pearls are from 8mm and can be as large as 18mm. 7mm-7.5mm is the most common size.

COLOUR

Pearls vary widely in colour, based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colours range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and pink rosé are among the most popular colours, peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. For freshwater can be peach, black (which are dyed), lavender, white or pink. Colour choice is a matter of personal preference, but always look for rich color.

We strongly recommend that, if you want a perfectly matching set, buy pearl earrings and bracelets at the same time as a necklace. It's quite difficult to find the same colour.

GRADING SYSTEM

Grade AAA

The AAA grade pearl has a brilliant shine and superior lustre. The shape of the pearl is near perfection as they are visibly round with the matching of pearls in pearl necklaces or bracelets that are extremely consistent. The near lack of surface imperfections is barely noticeable even in the lighter colors and white pearls.

Grade AA and AA+

Grade AA and AA+ The shape will be much closer to a spherical shape while the lustre is still excellent. Any imperfections on the surface of the pearl will be insignificant.

Grade A

An “A” Grade will have fair lustre with some irregularity in the spherical shape. As the marks on the surface of the pearl are noticeable but small, these can be seen even with the untrained eye.

LENGTH OF PEARL NECKLACE

The length of the pearl necklace is really a matter of personal preference and depending on a number of factors, such as your age, the length of your neck and how the piece will be worn.

pearl necklace lengths

 

Young women in their 20s often start their collection with shorter strands and smaller pearls which fit near the base of the throat. Consider the Choker and Princess lengths to optimize fashion look.

Women in their 30s and over may prefer the fashion impact of longer lengths and larger pearls, which add character with beautiful reflection to the face. Opera and Rope are recommended for their versatility, as they can be doubled or tripled around the neck.

Longer strands of bigger pearls make a more dramatic fashion statement; shorter strands, while classic and elegant, can easily be dressed "up" or "down" for casual occasions. So if you're sporty, choose shorter; sophisticated, choose long. Opt for the mid-length Princess strand, which suits every lifestyle and body type.

Choker Length

Usually about 16 inches (41cm) in length. These can be worn under a collar or close around the neck. They are appropriate for the young and slender. They can be worn anywhere at any time and can be worn with any outfit and for any occasion.

Princess Length

18 inches (46cm) long and are a much more versatile length. They are perfect with the open collar and can be worn over or under the collar. This length is not too casual and not too formal.

Matinee Length

22 inches (56cm) long and are intended for the business and elegant look. For the older women, the longer length draws the eye towards the pearls and away from the neck.

Opera Length

26 - 36 inches (66 – 91cm) long and can be worn for formal evening wear or for a striking modern look with casual clothes. Worn long, they fall to about the breastbone or sternum. They can also be worn knotted or doubled to make a double strand choker length necklace.

Rope Length

Over 37 inches (94cm) in length and are luxurious, sensuous and elegant. They can fall to the waist or longer according to the length chosen. They can be knotted, worn long, or worn doubled or tripled.

Custom Length

Custom lengths are available in any length and clasps you like. Contact us by phone or email for more information.

ABOUT IMITATION PEARLS

Imitation or fake pearls are widely sold in inexpensive jewellery. Some imitation pearls are made of mother-of-pearl, coral or conch shell, or made from glass and are coated with a solution containing fish scales called essence d'Orient.

Normally imitation pearls look flawless but the quality of their iridescence is usually very poor and do not have the same weight or smoothness as real pearls. Generally speaking, artificial pearls have no value and are easily distinguished from genuine pearls.