Pearl jewelries and accessories are quintessential part of fashion. However, for the novice shopper, choosing pearls is not necessarily an easy task. Before picking up your pearl jewelries, you should be aware of the factors that determine the quality of the pearls.
Natural pearl vs. cultured pearl
Natural pearls are rarely found in nature. Before the discovery of the cultured pearl manufacturing process, natural pearls were the only form of pearls available in the world. Pearls at that time could be afforded only by the royals and the uber rich. Nowadays over 95 percent pearls available in the market are cultured pearls. The large-scale manufacture of cultured pearls has brought down the price of pearls drastically, bringing them within the reach of ordinary people.
Imitation pearls are glass or plastic beads covered with pearl essence, which is an ingredient derived from fish scales. Imitation pearls are also known as faux pearls, semi-cultured pearls or Majorca Pearls. If you observe an imitation pearl under a magnifying glass, you will find that unlike a real pearl, it does not have a smooth finish.
Shape of the pearl determines the value of the pearl. Pearls of different shapes are fashionable, but a proper round and symmetrical pearl is most expensive.
You can hardly come across pearls that do not have any blemish. Blemishes appear in the pearls in the form of marks or small potholes. Fewer the number of blemishes in a pearl, more expensive will it be.
Larger pearls are more valuable than the smaller ones. Usually the largest pearls between 8 and 18mm in diameter are the Tahitian or the South Sea pearls.
The quality of the surface or luster, also known as nacre, also helps to determine the price of the pearl. The thicker the nacre more durable will be the pearl. The more lustrous is the pearl, the greater will be its cost.
No universal grading system for pearls is currently available. The AAA-A and the Tahitian System or A-D system are often used to determine the quality of the pearls. In the AAA-A system the best quality pearl is given the AAA grade. The lowest grade pearl is given A grade. In the A-D system A grade pearls are the most expensive ones, followed by B and C. D grade pearls are pearls with most defects.