Pearls are considered nature’s gemstones and are perfect for inclusion in fine jewelry. Harvested from oysters, pearls are chosen in a similar fashion to other gemstones, including diamonds. When looking to purchase a pearl, follow the following seven tips in order to find the best pearl for your money.
Although you may think of pearls being creamy or off-white in color, pearls actually come in a wide array of colors. Pearls can range in color from rare black pearls to pure white pearls, and every color in between. By far, the most popular colors for pearls are white, cream, yellow and pink. Tahitian pearls are black, blue, grey, or even silver in color, and tend to be more expensive than the afore-mentioned lighter colors, but it should be kept in mind that no color is considered better than another. When choosing a color of a pearl, consider your personal tastes and even skin tone to determine what color of pearl is the best pick for you.
When examining pearls, place the pearls on a white or off-white background to best see the true color. Often, stores will place the pearls on a black velvet tray to provide the most impact, but the dark color could prevent you from seeing the true quality of the color.
Most pearls are natural colors, but some are dyed. Dyed pearls are generally less expensive than naturally colored pearls, so take the color into careful consideration when buying.
The luster of the pearl is the quality of the reflective surface on the outermost layer of the pearl. This luster is quite important when choosing a quality pearl, and generally speaking, the higher the luster is an indication of a higher quality pearl.
Pearls are made of different layers of nacre, a solution the oyster secretes to protect its delicate interior from an irritant, often a simple grain of sand. The coating of the pearl is the outermost layer of nacre and should be thick enough to protect the pearl. Usually, coating and luster go hand in hand, with the thickness of the coating directly affecting the quality of the luster. Pearls with a thin coating are more likely to chip, are not as durable, and often appear dull.
The surface of the pearl should be smooth without any ridges, bumps, or pits. The higher quality of a pearl will have a smooth surface that will enable the light the light to properly reflect and showcase the color and luster of the pearl. Also, avoid any pearls with blemishes on the surface.
Although most pearls are round, that is not the only shape of pearl available. That being said, round pearls should indeed to completely round. The different shapes of pearls available are:
• Semi round
• Off round
Generally speaking, round pearls are worth the most, with semi round, off round, and Baroque being valued less with each category. Usually cultured pearls are considered round with freshwater pearls more odd shaped.
Size in pearls is measured in millimeters. In pearl necklaces where each pearl is approximately the same size, the measurement is limited to a range, such as 7x7.5mm, meaning the pearls in the strand are between seven and seven and one-half millimeters in size. Usually, the larger the size of the pearl, the more expensive the price tag. However, the other factors still come into play.
Pearls are set by drilling through the pearl to tie on a strand for a necklace or top mounted for other pieces of jewelry. When choosing the setting, ensure the setting itself is of good quality and the pearl is appropriately set. This is critical when choosing a necklace, since a pearl that is drilled off center will cause it to hang awkwardly on the strand.