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Comprehensive Gemstone Information


Pearl - The Oldest Gem

Pricing Pearls

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 Pearl

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.

Luster, 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.

Weight, 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 and color.

Next: Care for Pearls

Buy Your Pearl with Peace of Mind at

Jewelry with Pearl

[Pearl Page 1] [Pearl Page 2]  [Pearl Page 4]

See Also:

Products with Pearl

Therapeutic Properties of Pearl

Gemstone Infocenter Home

Gift Selections incorporating Gemstones

Guide to Caring for Gemstones

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