Guide to Buying Pearl Jewellery


A piece of classic pearl jewellery is a must-have for every woman. Pearls are not only classically beautiful, but anyone who wears them exudes an aura of sophistication and elegance. But buying delicate pearls is not always easy. Even professional jewellers encounter issues in identifying, grading and assigning value to pearls. If you are planning to buy a piece of fine pearl jewellery, here is everything you need to know.

Different types of pearls 

Regardless of if you are looking for a simple pair of pearl drop earrings or a pearl necklace, jewellery stores typically have four types of pearls to choose from:

  • Tahitian pearls
  • South sea pearls
  • Freshwater pearls
  • Japanese Akoya pearls

Each type of pearl is coveted for its uniqueness and beauty. But it is vital to know the characteristics of each kind because it also affects the value.

For starters, freshwater pearls are the least expensive and great for everyday use. But if you are looking for classic white and round pearls, the Akoya pearls from Japan are your next choice. Japanese Akoya pearls are reasonably priced, yet look quite high-end.

If you are looking for something more exotic, Tahitian black pearls will be an excellent addition to your collection. Tahitian pearls also come in various colours, which is unique to this type of pearl. Tahitian pearls are also not as expensive as other types of pearls but still look very elegant.

Now we come to the queen of pearls, which is the South Sea pearl. These pearls are prized for their natural glow and radiance. So far the costliest choice, but if you can afford South Sea pearls, these are undoubtedly the cream of the crop.

Choosing the right pearl size 

The size of the peal usually determines its wearable quality. Medium sized pearls ranging from 7mm to 9mm are the most popular and versatile when used in making necklaces. It also follows that bigger pearls are also more expensive. The more perfect the shape and the lustre of the pearl, the more valuable it is as well.

Factors that affect the value of pearls 

The main factors that jewellers use to grade and set the value of pearls are:

  • Shape symmetry. Perfectly round pearls are rare and have the highest value.
  • Lustre is described as how light reflects on the surface of the pearl. The higher the lustre, the more expensive the pearl.
  • Surface quality. Some pearls have imperfections called ‘fish bites’. Jewellers look for the smoothest pearls with no flaws.
  • Pearls come in almost every imaginable colour, but the value depends on whether it is natural, well-saturated, and rare.
  • Most pearls sold today are cultured, but pearls that come from the wild are the rarest and most valuable.
  • The longer it takes the oyster to form the pearl, the larger it becomes; hence, the higher the price. Nevertheless, size is not the only factor to consider in deciding the value as all other factors need to be taken into account.

It is essential to understand that the grading system used by jewellers is subjective, which means that it can change from one seller to another. Knowing the benchmark used in the industry will help you in buying pearls and ensure that they are not overpriced.