How to Buy Pearls

buying pearlsPearls are endlessly fascinating for their variety of colors, shapes, and origins. And they are long considered one of the most romantic jewelry gifts.


Choose a pearl shape: round, symmetrical or baroque and/or irregular. The most coveted shape for a pearl is round — perfectly round. And, as perfectly round pearls are as rare as totally unblemished ones, those that do exist command exorbitant prices.

Other shapes are also valued. 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.


Consider pearl size, the most important factor in price. The size of the oyster directly affects the size of the pearl it creates. Round pearls are measured according to their diameter, while baroque pearls are measured by their length and width.

Size is determined by diameter and expressed in millimeters, since pearls are sold by the millimeter. The larger the pearl, the more rare it is and the more valuable. A pearl’s size doesn’t necessarily indicate its quality, but it most certainly does affect its price.


Inspect each pearl for luster. Luster is the most important factor determining the quality of a pearl. The amount of nacre determines the reflective quality of the pearl’s surface.

Lustrous pearls have a shiny surface, good contrast between light and dark areas, and strong, crisp reflections. Avoid pearls that resemble dull, cloudy white beads.


Mollusks create pearls in a palette of colors, from white to black and almost everything in between. Color does not affect the quality of a pearl, but does affect the perceived beauty of the pearl according to the individual taste of the "eye of the beholder". Some colors have become more popular than others in particular markets. Color

Surface Quality

Though all pearls are unique, each one usually has small imperfections on its surface described in the industry as blisters, spots or indentations. Surface quality is judged by the number of flaws visible on the outside of the pearl. A pearl with fewer surface markings is more rare and hence more valuable.


For pearl necklaces the overall look is very important. The more uniform the necklace looks the more time was spent matching the pearls and the more costly the necklace.

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