Pearl - The Oldest Gem
The cost of pearl is determined by how it was made (natural, salt water
cultured, freshwater cultured, etc.) It is also influenced by the thickness and
quality of the nacre. Other factors that affect the value of pearls include size
(especially in rounds), shape, and color.
Natural, uncultured pearls are the most expensive of all pearls but are very
rarely seen. Nowadays they only make appearances as antiques.
Different pearl varieties from different locations command different prices.
Japanese akoya pearls, white South Sea pearls, golden pearls and black Tahitian
pearls are considered the highest quality and command premiums. However, Chinese
akoya pearls and freshwater pearls dominate the market and offer buyers
attractive pearls at affordable prices.
The Two Colors Of
The predominant color of a pearl is its body color. But there is a second
color to consider when evaluating pearls. This second color comes from subtle
iridescence. This second color may not be obvious, especially if it is similar
to the body color. But this color effect is what gives Pearl their much of their
allure and beauty.
This iridescence or second color is seen most strongly on the crest of a
pearl’s horizon. It is known as the “orient”. Pearls with rich colorful orients
are generally valued higher than those that have little or no orient.
The body color of a pearl can be white, cream, pink (rose), golden,
silver-grey and black. Most people choose a color that compliments their natural
skin tone. Pearls on a single strand should always match one another.
Coating & Surface Condition
Pearls that are bright, reflective, with high luster are highly prized. Look
for pearls with clean and even surfaces. They reflect more light and do so more
evenly than pearls with blemished surfaces. Please remember, however, that most
pearls do have blemishes. They are natural. Intelligent pearl manufactures solve
this problem by concealing blemishes near the drill holes.
Avoid thin-coated cultured pearls. They often display less luster and orient.
They can chip or occasionally peel. Pearls should possess a reasonably thick
layer of nacre on the bead.
Check for thin coats on pearls by looking down the pearl drill hole to see
exactly where the thickness of the coating starts on the bead. Another way to
check for a thin coat is by holding pearls under a strong light source and
rolling it back and forth between your fingers - if you can clearly see the
bead, the coating is thin.
Size & Shape
The heavier the pearl, the greater it’s desirability. However, there is one
important difference between pearls and other gemstones. Pearls are measured and
expressed by their size in mm and not by their weight in carats as in case of
other gems. Often pearls over 9 millimeters are generally
disproportionately expensive in comparison to their price-to-weight ratio. When
weight is needed for buying multiple pearls, it is usually stated in grams.
Round pearls should be as perfectly round as possible. However, even top
quality strands can contain an occasional semi-round pearl.
Large, round, well colored, unenhanced pearls command a premium price.
White-pink pearls with orient attain the highest prices. For finished jewelry
made of pearl, the quality of manufacture will affect the price of the end
product. These include the quality of stringing and degree of matching in size
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