All pearls are not created equal! There are a number of factors that determine the quality, and therefore the price, of a pearl. Our knowledgeable sales associates would be glad to show you what to look for when selecting your next strand of pearls.
The color of a pearl is a combination of body color and overtone; the term "white-rose," for example, describes a white pearl with a rosy-colored hue.
Luster is the most important factor determining the quality of a pearl. It is especially important that the surface be without blemish, because luster is more often seen on a smooth surface without ridges that deflect the light.
"Very high," "high," "medium," "low," and "very low" are the five categories that grade the luster of any pearl.
Size is determined by diameter and expressed in millimeters. A pearl's size doesn't necessarily indicate its quality, but it does affect price.
The most coveted shape for a pearl is perfectly round, but perfectly round pearls are as rare as totally unblemished ones. You'll find most pearls in the 'all round' to 'mostly round' range. With Tahitian pearls, which are extremely rare and expensive when discovered in perfectly round form, the industry standard for the average Tahitian pearl is termed, "slightly off round."
The drop pearl is particularly prized because its shape adapts naturally to earrings and pendants.
Baroque pearls, whose shapes are symmetrical rather than round, can sometimes be amazingly lustrous and gorgeous.
Mabe pearls look like half of a round pearl, and usually are mounted within a setting and a backing.
Other, more asymmetrical shapes that enjoy a vogue among pearl lovers are oblong, pear-shaped and teardrop pearls.
Though all pearls are unique, each one usually has small imperfections on its surface described as blisters, spots or indentations.
Surface quality is judged by the number of those flaws visible on the outside of the pearl. Like diamonds, pearls are rarely flawless.
Fine pearls have virtually no spots, bumps, pits, circles or wrinkles. High luster will often make tiny surface imperfections less visible and generally compensate for these small imperfections. Also, when the pearls are strung as a necklace or mounted on earrings, the mounting and drill holes can do much to detract from any flaws inherent in the pearl.
- Never wear cultured pearls while bathing, swimming or while working with chemicals. All of these substances will damage the nacre coating of your cultured pearls or the silk on which they are strung.
- Remove cultured pearls while applying cosmetics, hair spray, nail polish, or perfume.
- Use a clean, soft, dry cloth to wipe your pearls after wearing and store them in a soft pouch or cloth, never plastic, to prevent scratching by other jewelry.
- Have pearls professionally cleaned and restrung every year or two, more frequently if you wear them often.