Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a pearl made of and how is it formed?
2. Define the difference between the differing grades of pearls from A, AA and AAA
3. How does Pearl Distributors determine the selling and market price of their product?
4. Is there a specific type or quality of pearl jewelry sold by Pearl Distributors?
5. What size of pearls should I buy?
6. What color of pearls will suit me best?
7. What is the difference between Saltwater and Freshwater Pearls?
8. What are Natural Baroque Pearls?
9. How do I care for my pearl jewelry investment?

Wearing Pearls
1. Is there a certain length of pearl necklace that I should purchase?
2. How do I measure the right length of my Pearl Bracelet?
3. How is the string of pearls tied in a necklace or bracelet?
4. Tell me more about the clasps and what their appearance is

Your Order
1. How will my order be shipped? Do I have long to wait to receive my jewelry?
2. Do I have to be home when the order arrives?
3. What about Customs and Duties on my purchase?
4. Do you accept credit card payments on purchases?
5. Is there a time limit on returns? How would I return my purchase to Pearl Distributors?
6. What amount will be refunded to me?

Investing in pearls
1. What should I consider when investing in pearls?

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To research more on Pearl Jewelry, visit our Pearl Encyclopedia.

What is a pearl made of and how is it formed?
True pearls only develop from two forms; one is the "natural" pearl also known as an Oriental pearl. The other is the "cultured" pearl and is clearly the most common and most affordable. To form a cultured pearl an irritant such as a piece of tissue or a mother-of-pearl bead is introduced or nucleated into the oyster/mollusk. The mollusk will coat this item with numerous layers of a secretion known as nacre, which will eventually form a resplendent pearl. While the natural pearl forms from nature as an irritant which is most likely a parasite somehow finds its way through the oysters shell and into the Oyster itself, the cultured pearl on the other hand is formed by surgically implanting a small bead or piece of freshwater tissue into the oyster. This is a form of artificial implantation. Both means of pearl formation result in superior, lustrous circular-in-shape pearls. However Natural pearls are simply quite rare and beyond most consumers means. This resulted in the formation of the Cultured Pearl industry.

Imitation pearls are not gemstones. They are simply made of ceramic, shell, glass or even plastic. These are simply man-made beads. There is a true difference with imitation pearls as there is no presence of a mollusk to provide the natural generated nacre layers. Imitation Pearls must be marketed in the United States under descriptive names such as artificial, man-made or faux. Sometimes regional names are used like Laguna pearls, Red Sea pearls and Mallorca pearls. These pearl “Mallorca” imitations normally look flawless as most man made objects are in fact flawless. Only Natural or Cultured pearls can give you the true uniqueness that pearls create.

How do you determine if you have a real pearl? Simply scrape the pearl gently across your teeth. If it feels smooth, then it is an imitation. If it feels gritty then it is real. This is due to the nature of the nacre.

As the natural pearl is quite rare today and truly expensive, most pearls sold today are in the form of cultured Saltwater Pearls as in Akoya Pearls and Tahitian Pearls and Freshwater Pearls. These all originate in such Far East countries as Japan, China, French Polynesia and Northern Australia.

At Pearl Distributors, we offer a wide range of selection with both our saltwater "cultured" pearls: Tahitian Pearl Necklaces and Tahitian Pearl Pendants along with Akoya Pearl Necklaces and Akoya Pearl Earrings and our outstanding collection of Freshwater Cultured Pearls including Pearl Necklaces, Pearl Bracelets, Pearl Earrings and Pearl Pendants.

Define the difference between the differing grades of pearls from A, AA and AAA.
At Pearl Distributors we strive to make your pearl jewelry purchase as easy as possible. To this end, we use a clear (Mikimoto adopted) yet simple Grading System based on the following information:
Body Surface Appearance - Defined by the visual appearance of blemishes and imperfections on the surface of the pearl. We use a percentage basis. The Pearl Shape - A perfect spherical pearl will have the highest grading value while slight off-round imperfections will have a lower grading. Amount of Luster - A truly lustrous pearl surface will have a high reflective quality and will be graded accordingly.

Pearl Distributors offers a wide selection of colors, sizes and grades of freshwater and saltwater cultured pearls. The size of the pearls can range from a 6 mm size, to a more traditional size of 7 to 8mm, to a larger, more fashionable size up to 15 to 16mm. Our largest 15mm plus sized Tahitian pearls truly say "Wow" and offer that extra glitz and glamour for those special occasions. Let’s not forget our large beautiful Pendant Pearls that are over 10mm in size.

Grade A
Although Pearl Distributors do not carry this low of a grade of pearl we will point out that an “A” Grade will have fair Luster with some irregularity in the spherical shape. As the marks on the surface of the pearl are noticeable but small, these can be seen even with the untrained eye. This lower grade value keeps the price at a reasonable cost. It should be pointed out that most traditional Jewelry retailers do not advertise the grade of the pearls they sell. Therefore, you may be looking at an “A” grade pearl. You may want to do some research before committing to such a purchase.

Grade AA and AA+
These grades (AA and AA+) of pearls are quite superior to the Grade A pearl because the shape will be much closer to a spherical shape while the luster is still excellent. Any imperfections on the surface of the pearl will be insignificant, which makes this quality of pearl one of our most popular. Our AA+ Pearls come from the top 5% of the annual pearl harvest. They are 90% clean or blemish free with a near round shape and a luster of at least AA+ to the highest of AAA.

Grade AAA
The AAA grade pearl has a brilliant shine and superior luster and orient when compared to our grade AA+ pearls. The shape of the pearl is near perfection as they are visibly round with the matching of pearls in pearl necklaces or bracelets that are extremely consistent. The near lack of surface imperfections (95% inclusion free) is barely noticeable even in the lighter colors and white pearls. These are selected from the top 1% of the annual harvest. Our AAA Pearls are simply the very best on the Market. Guaranteed!

Don't be Fooled!
Don’t be fooled by expensive claims like “Collectors Quality”, ” AAA+ or even “AAAA” as these are simple marketing techniques used to artificially inflate prices. Look for Grading systems that follow the established “Mikimoto” Grading System. If in doubt purchase a strand from Pearl Distributors and one from our competition for comparison purposes. Simply return the inferior one within the guarantee period. We are so convinced that our quality is superior that we regularly promote this bold practice. You will not be disappointed… you have our word on it!

How does PearlDistributors.com assess the Market price of their product?
Our selling price at Pearl Distributors is solely based on our superb costing. Not what we can get out of the market. We do not drive up our prices just because the consumer is willing to pay more. At Pearl Distributors we are satisfied with a reasonable profit, so there is minimal influence on our prices by supply and demand in the marketplace. This is backed up by our Mission Statement.

Mission Statement
Provide Guaranteed Best Quality Pearl Jewelry and Quality Service for our Customers throughout the World at an Incomparable Value Proposition

We also cut out all middle men in the business. There are no massive distribution systems with several layers of pearl Traders (or profit takers) in between. We do not have expensive retail store fronts or huge advertising budgets. So you will not see us in Shopping Malls or advertised on Television. It is for these reasons that we are able to pass on much of our significant savings directly to you.

With this method of pricing, Pearl Distributors is able to offer a guarantee that your purchase will bring in an appraised value of at least 5 times your purchase price. In the United Kingdom and on the European continent the appraised value will reflect an even higher differential of up to 7 times your purchase price and in some cases even more.

Is there a specific type or quality of pearl jewelry sold by PearlDistributors.com?
At Pearl Distributors we sell a wide range of only quality pearl jewelry from the saltwater "cultured" pearls such as our Akoya Pearls, Tahitian Pearls and South Sea Pearls. We also have an amazing collection of Freshwater "cultured" pearls found in our pearl necklaces, bracelets, earrings and sets.

Our quality ratings for our pearls start with a high AA rating for our most economical selections and increases to AA+ and even to AAA rating for that special pearl jewelry keepsake.

We do not under any circumstances sell A, B or C quality pearls. Please refer to our Grading Definitions for complete details on our grading system.

We encourage you to shop and compare our Quality and True Value. Don’t be fooled by expensive claims like “Collectors Quality”, “ AAA+ or even “AAAA” as these are simple marketing techniques used to artificially inflate prices.

What size of pearls should I buy?
Oddly enough we get more questions regarding people’s concerns that the pearls they are looking at may be too large. Well we must say that in many cases the larger the better! Large sized pearls of say 9-10mm can be absolutely stunning on a petite woman. However if it still is a concern then sizes of 7 to 8mm are the most common size sold and are extremely versatile for use everyday or for that special evening out.

Cultured Pearls that are less than 6mm in diameter are quite small and normally sized for young girls or exceptionally petite women. 6mm to 7mm are larger and much more popular; particularly in Akoya pearls with their incredible AAA Luster. For those bold luxurious occasions sizes above 8mm are the most common. Cultured Pearls are worn for all occasions and worn anywhere. Please note that even a difference of 1mm in diameter is quite noticeable to the naked eye when worn around the neck. Cultured Pearls are stunning no matter where or when they are worn or with any outfit. That’s why pearl jewelry is a must for any jewelry box.

What color of pearls will suit me best?
Experts typically agree that most colors of pearls look stunning on most women however generally those with quite fair complexions will show off natural peach/pink, natural lavender, white with rose overtones and black pearls best. Those with olive or tanned complexions will suit white pearls with ivory overtones best. Darker complexions with graying hair may prefer white pearls with silver overtones.

These guidelines are only a guide as everyone has different tastes and pearls should be matched with the clothes you're wearing as well as being matched to the appropriate occasion. If in doubt stop by your local jeweler and try on a couple of different color strands to compare. Make sure you pay close attention to the overtone or hue of the pearls. This will also give you a chance to comparison shop for quality and price. Then come back to Pearl Distributors to make your final selection. You will not be disappointed!

What is the difference between Saltwater and Freshwater Pearls?

Freshwater pearls come from a different mollusc to their saltwater counterparts. Saltwater pearls can include all pearls harvested from molluscs in the sea, but the small white pearls common in pearl necklaces are usually known as Akoya pearls. The Akoya pearls have a higher brilliance whereas the Freshwater pearls have a softer glow. The Freshwater pearls tend to be more durable due to thicker nacre. Care must be taken to get only the highest quality Freshwater pearls as there is a great difference in the luster between the lower qualities and the higher qualities. Both saltwater and freshwater pearls can be made into very high quality pearl jewelry.

Freshwater pearls are grown in lakes and ponds. A freshwater mollusk can grow up to 50 pearls at a time. The freshwater pearl starts with a tiny piece of tissue which is inserted as the 'pearl starter'. The mollusk then covers this tissue with nacre. The process to grow a pearl takes between 4 to 6 years and is full of peril - risk of disease, pollution, etc. A successful harvest of freshwater pearls is highly praised.

Because the pearls in the freshwater mollusk start from virtually nothing (a small piece of tissue from a freshwater oyster), they are essentially 100% nacre. So for a pearl that is 7.5mm, the nacre will be 7.5mm! The freshwater pearl growth process is almost identical to the growth of 'natural' pearls. With modern freshwater cultivation methods the freshwater pearls are of excellent quality - with excellent body, shape, lustre and can be on equal footing with that of Saltwater Akoya pearls. In some cases freshwater cultured pearls have exceeded the quality of Saltwater Akoya Pearls. In fact recent harvests have brought about pearls of such unbelievable quality and luster that they are now compared to the coveted Japanese Hanadama Pearls which until now have been considered the Best of the Best.

The term "Akoya" is mostly used internationally to signify Saltwater Pearls from Japan. And so, Akoya pearls have been adopted in the industry to stand for saltwater pearls made in Japan. Akoya Saltwater Pearls are grown and cultivated in the ocean along the coast of Japan and China. The Akoya mollusk (Pinctada fucata) is implanted with a round bead and the nacre envelops around the bead. The bead implant is made from mollusk shells and is usually slightly smaller than the final pearl product. The number of beads that can be inserted into the mollusk depends on the mollusk, but usually no more than 3 beads can be inserted into one mollusk.

The growing time takes between 6 to 18 months - the slower the growing period the better as the nacre is smoother and even - but the longer the pearl is grown in the ocean the higher risk of damage, storms, mollusk dying, etc - so the price for Akoya pearls varies with the thickness of nacre and the risk taken.

Akoya pearls are known for a very high luster. The nacre layer isn't as thick as that of freshwater pearls, but it has a very highly reflective surface with a mirror-like brilliance unlike the softer glow of the Freshwater pearls. It is often chosen for those occasions where the classic look of pearl necklaces is desired. In the recent years Akoya pearls and their status as the pearl of choice has been significantly challenged by the freshwater pearls. The new freshwater pearls that are now produced are sometimes equal to Akoya pearls. When freshwater pearls are round, they are magnificent - the nacre is full, the molecular structure of the nacre is tightly bound and the luster is spectacular. At Pearl Distributors our AAA freshwater quality is reserved for those freshwater pearls that are at least the same quality as Akoya Saltwater Pearls.

What are Natural Baroque Pearls?
Art-shaped pearls are also known as baroque pearls, or semi-baroque pearls. These are displayed on our website in our Tahitian Necklaces. The Natural baroque pearls are becoming increasingly popular and come in a variety of non-spherical shapes.

To cater to the tastes of fashion-conscious women, unnatural Baroque pearls have been developed. These are simply color dyed pearls. These are pearls of a lesser quality which have been colored either through a laser process, chemically dyed or through the food substances that are fed to the oyster while it is forming the pearl. Purple, blue and green baroque pearls and semi-baroque pearls have been combined with natural colored pearls to create jewelry that is eye catching however not as valuable as all Natural Baroque Pearls

How do I care for my pearl jewelry investment?
The nacre on your pearls is very sensitive to abuse so at Pearl Distributors we recommend the following care tips:
All pearl jewelry should be worn as often as possible as the natural luster of the finish will be embellished with the natural oils of the skin.

The pearl jewelry needs a protection from other sharp jewelry and gold, so we recommend they be stored separately in a soft storage bag. As the pearls are very delicate, they should only be cleaned on occasion with a soft, damp cloth and a mild solution of mild liquid soap. The use of vinegar, ammonia, any chlorine products or lemon juice or other acidic compound is not recommended.

Pearls do no take well to the application of perfume, cosmetics, or hair spray. We suggest you add your pearl jewelry as a final touch to your ensemble to ensure they are not damaged by these products.

All pearl necklaces and bracelets can show wear and tear after extensively being worn; therefore we recommend you take your pearl jewelry in regularly for an inspection.

Is there a certain length of pearl necklace that I should purchase?
The length of the pearl necklace is really a matter of personal preference depending on a number of factors, such as the length of ones neck and how the piece will be worn.

CHOKER LENGTH NECKLACES are usually about 16 inches in length. These can be worn under a collar or close around the neck. They are appropriate for the very young and slender. They can be worn anywhere at any time and can be worn with any outfit and for any occasion.

PRINCESS LENGTH NECKLACES are 18 inches long and are a much more versatile length to be worn over or under the collar. They are often used with the open collar look. This length is not too casual and not too formal. It is our most popular length.

MATINEE LENGTH NECKLACES are 22 inches long and are intended for the business and elegant look. For the older women, the longer length draws the eye towards the pearls and away from the neck.

OPERA LENGTH NECKLACES are between 26 and 36 inches long and can be worn for formal evening wear or for a striking modern look with casual clothes. Worn long, they fall to about the breastbone or sternum. They can also be worn knotted or doubled to make a double strand choker length necklace.

ROPE LENGTH NECKLACES are over 37 inches in length and are luxurious, sensuous and elegant. They can fall to the waist or longer according to the length chosen. They can be knotted, worn long, or worn doubled or tripled. We can make them with multiple clasps so they can be separated into a necklace, choker and bracelet for even more versatility. Special clasps are available that don't detract from their look when worn as one strand.

CUSTOM LENGTH NECKLACES are available in any length you like. Contact us by phone or email for information on these. Pearl Distributors makes every effort to provide you with the necklace that is perfect for YOU!

How do I measure the right length of my Pearl Bracelet?
Firstly you need to measure your wrist with a tape measure. The most common measurements are between 6.5 inches and 8.5 inches with the exception of children and petite women. However it is not uncommon for tall women to have larger wrists. If you like the bracelet snug, then select the length closest to the size of your wrist. If your wrist size is say 7.7 inches then choose 8.0 inches. On the other hand if you like a loose fit then choose .5 inches to 1.0 inches larger than a snug fit bracelet. You simply decide how you like to wear it and we custom make it for you. All you need to do is select the size that you want at the checkout. It’s just that easy.

How is the string of pearls tied in a necklace or bracelet?
Each and every piece of Jewelry is tied with strong, quality silk thread and are hand strung by double stringing and knotting between each pearl. This is done for that added assurance in the event the jewelry is caught on something and the thread breaks. We do not want you loose any of your beautiful pearls and precious investment. All of our pearl strands are finished professionally at the clasp with quality French Wire. These are important features when purchasing quality pearl jewelry. Before you buy make sure that you have confirmed this level of quality after all it is for your peace of mind.

Tell me more about the clasps and what their appearance is.
At Pearl Distributors we offer up to five basic styles of quality solid 14K Gold clasps and quality solid 14K gold posts. If you want a different color Clasp or Post, in most cases simply choose your desired selection. The elegant strong double locking clasp snaps then locks securely into place to prevent accidental loss.

At all times, however please note the type and style of clasp in the detailed description and photo accompanying all Pearl Jewelry.

How will my order be shipped? Do I have long to wait to receive my jewelry?
As a direct supplier, at Pearl Distributors our supply of pearl jewelry as shown on our website is most extensive and readily available. Your order will be processed within 1 to 2 business days and we have a tracking system for orders processed to ensure we know where your jewelry is.

We use FedEx, UPS and United States Parcel Service as our carriers for all shipments under our Shipping Policy. UPS is able to deliver to most places in the world in less than 5 business days. U.S.P.S. Priority is able to deliver to most places in the U.S.A. in 3 to 5 Days. Most orders are shipped within 24 hours of placing the order however during peak holiday season (Christmas, Valentines or Mothers Day) please allow an extra 2 days due to the high volumes. Our focus is on Quality and Customer Service. We want your business and will do everything we can to secure your trust! The following is a table showing sample delivery times and options to our most popular countries.

Not all pearl jewelry suppliers can offer this service, something we take pride in. And remember, at Pearl Distributors we offer free shipping for orders above the $75.00 mark. Please see our International Shipping page for more details.

Do I have to be home when the order arrives?
Usually the courier will contact you or leave a delivery slip notice at the phone number or the address you have provided with your order. Please be sure that the information you provide to us is accurate and up to date to ensure speedy receipt of your pearl jewelry order.

What about Customs and Duties on my purchase?
Depending on your country of shipment, you may be liable for customs and duties charges, which will be determined and collected by FedEx or UPS on behalf of your government. Should you require more detailed information on this assessment, please feel free to contact us at support@pearldistributors.com or call us on our toll-free number at 1-800-913-0676.

Do you accept credit card payments on purchases?
At PearlDistributors.com we are pleased to accept most credit cards on your purchase. Please refer to our payment options on our cover page.

However, due to the high incidence of fraud in certain countries we cannot accept this form of payment from: Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria, Philippines, Romania, Russia, or Turkmenistan.

Is there a time limit on returns? How would I return my purchase to PearlDistributors.com?
At Pearl Distributors we understand that you may need some time to assess your purchase. That is why we give you 90 days from the time of receipt to try your purchase on for value. Should you not be totally pleased with your purchase you must request a return within 90 days.

Simply contact us directly via e-mail to request this at support@pearldistributors.com. Your e-mail will also need to include the following information:
The first and last name as shown on your order for the piece of jewelry to be returned including your order number.

The e-mail address where we can confirm receipt of your request. Also, this e-mail address will be used to confirm receipt of the returned merchandise.

Please provide a detailed description of the item(s) being returned and how they will be shipped back to us.

Please provide a reason to us for your return of the merchandise. Should you have any additional information you would like to provide, please include this in your e-mail to PearlDistributors.com. We will forward you the correct address to return this shipment. You must return the entire contents of the order including the Certificate of Authenticity and Appraisal and all invoice packaging. We strongly recommend that you insure your return; we cannot be responsible for lost, damaged or misdirected returns. If you paid for your order by credit card, a credit will be issued and will appear on your billing statement. This may take up to 10 days after our receipt due to normal credit card company delays.

At Pearl Distributors we promise to handle your return request with the same attention to detail as your purchase. That way we can be assured you will consider our fine pearl jewelry for another occasion.

Customer refund experience: The following was recently received from a customer who had to return a product: "Thank you - you are extremely nice people to deal with. I sincerely hope that I can do business with you in the future. Malcolm."

What amount will be refunded to me?
Pearl Distributors will refund to you all 100% of the price you paid for your Quality Fine Pearl Jewelry with the exception of any of the shipping charges incurred. A $15.00 shipping fee may be applied to all returned orders originally shipped out via our "free UPS shipping" option. A $5.00 shipping fee may be applied to all returned orders originally shipped out via our "Free USPS Shipping" option. Often these fees can be waived. Customs and local taxes can be refunded by local authorities as they are collected upon receipt of your order. Remember, all orders over $199.00 in value are shipped for free to the U.S.A.

We provide our outstanding no hassle 90 day 100% Money Back Guarantee along with an enclosed Certificate of Authenticity and Appraisal signed by an independent G.I.A. pearl expert. We are proud unblemished members with the Better Business Bureau including adherence to the BBB Privacy Policy. We are proud members of the Safe Shopping Network where we are rated at 100%. These are assurances that we stand behind all of our Quality Fine Pearl Jewelry that we sell.

Special, Custom and Previously exchanged orders will be accepted for return per our discretion and may be subject to a 15% re-stocking/re-stringing charge.

What should I consider when investing in pearls?
Pearls as an investment

Intrinsically valuable, pearls can be passed down from generation to generation. Which are the most likely to keep their value? The value of a pearl is determined by several factors. Many of those factors, such as shape, size, and surface quality will never change. But some factors can change and reduce the value of the pearls as the years pass. Those are the lustre, the color intensity and damage to the surface, such as thinner nacre, chipping, peeling, etc.

1. Pearls that have the natural color that they developed inside the mollusc will retain their color for generations with proper care. Color-treated pearls can fade over the years. If buying as an investment, we recommend purchasing non-color treated pearls. Most white pearls have been soaked in a type of bleach solution to get more uniform white color for matching strands. This will not affect their durability.

2. The depth of the nacre of a pearl affects its lustre and inner glow since light penetrates the layers of nacre and is reflected around within the pearl before emerging from the surface. A thin layer of nacre can deteriorate over the years, leaving a dull looking pearl with the surface worn off, and the bead of shell that was used as a nucleus semi-exposed. This drastically reduces the value of the pearls. Therefore we recommend buying pearls with thick nacre or pearls composed of solid nacre with no bead nucleus, if you are concerned about them keeping their value for many years.

3. The most valuable pearls are the perfectly round shape since they are the most difficult to produce or find.

4. The surface of every pearl is as unique as the shape of every snowflake. Almost all pearls have some degree of surface irregularities. This is one of the main factors affecting their value. A pearl with a very clean surface has a much higher value than one with many surface flaws, even though these may not affect their aesthetic appeal. Just as most diamonds have minute flaws, most pearls have minute surface flaws. A flawless diamond is rare and valuable and likewise, a flawless pearl is very rare and highly valuable. AAA quality pearls are worth far more than the lower quality ones. Gem quality pearls that exceed AAA quality standards are even more valuable.

5. When investing in a necklace rather than loose pearls, care must be taken to get a strand that is very well matched. As no two pearls are identical, collecting enough matching pearls of an unusually high quality or unusual color can take many years. This makes the strand very rare and valuable.

6. Generally speaking, larger pearls are worth more than smaller ones. Each type of pearl comes from a different type of mollusc. The size range for each varies according to the size of the mollusc. Just as a baby elephant could not be nurtured within the body of a small seal, a 14mm pearl will not grow in the tiny Akoya producing mollusc. So the size is evaluated in comparison to other pearls of the same type.

7. Rare pearls are worth more. Naturally occurring pearls are accidents of nature and very rare these days. They are therefore more valuable than any cultured pearls, if the other factors are equal. Top quality South Sea pearls are rare and valuable as are very high-quality pearls of all types.

Which pearls are most valuable today?
Taking these factors into consideration, the most valuable pearls today would be the South Sea pearls, the round Tahitian pearls, the Hanadamas and the Gem quality Freshwater Orient pearls. The South Sea and Tahitian pearls are presently priced at about their market value. The Freshwater Orient or Gem quality Freshwater pearls are priced considerably lower than their real value, and are expected to go up in price in the future.

Background information
The reason for this is that cultured Freshwater pearl production in the past has produced a huge quantity of very low-quality pearls. This gave the Freshwater pearls a poor reputation and kept the prices low in comparison to saltwater Akoya pearls. Over the last few years new techniques have vastly raised the quality of the pearls produced. Therefore freshwater pearls have become increasingly popular in the last couple years. Because of the large quantities available they are still very economically priced.

A Word of Caution
Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted, standardized grading system. Most dealers use the “A to AAA” grading system, with AAA being the highest quality recognized. In most cases this should be fine, but some dealers will call their best strand of pearls AAA, whereas the same strand would only be considered AA by a more reputable dealer or one who deals in higher quality pearls. We recommend you find out exactly what the dealer’s criterion is for calling his pearls AA or AAA. Get it in writing. Some dealers may call their pearls AAAA or AAA+ as if trying to say they are a better grade than AAA. Often, these pearls are the same grade as a more reputable dealer’s AAA grade.

Why are “Freshwater Orient” pearls more valuable?
Most cultured pearls have a thin layer of nacre surrounding a nucleus that is usually a small bead made of shell. These freshwater pearls have no bead nucleus. They are nucleated with a tiny piece of tissue that disintegrates over time, leaving a pearl of solid nacre. About .01% of the harvest or 1 in 10,000 pearls surpasses in quality all the standards for the highest AAA quality pearls. They are considered Gem Quality, and are usually chosen as loose pearls to be used for earrings, rather than being put into the AAA strands for necklaces. In lustre and surface quality they rival the highest quality saltwater pearls. But they are nacre right through, so the nacre won’t peel, chip or wear off over the years. They are being collected as loose Gem quality pearls, made into strands and marketed by a few companies under the brand names “Freshwater Orient” pearls, “Presidential” pearls or “Freshadama” pearls.

These pearls are new to the market in the last few years, and are already becoming one of the most popular amongst pearl connoisseurs due to their quality and durability. The general consensus of opinion is that their price will go up as they become more widely known and the demand for them grows. We recommend pearl buyers take advantage of the underpriced Freshwater Orient pearls before their price goes up to match their less durable saltwater counterparts.

Larger investments
Round, high quality Tahitian pearls with very high luster and flawless surface quality are a good choice for investment purposes. Even more so are the large, extremely rare, South Sea pearls. Although bead nucleated, these often have thick nacre, making them durable. Most South Sea pearls have surface irregularities. A strand made of pearls with AAA quality, clean surface and high luster is rare indeed, and definitely a good way to invest your money.

Make sure you purchase from a reliable source, which provides a money-back guarantee. Some internet retailers have direct contact with the pearl farmers and can get you a high quality strand for a much lower price than what you’d have to pay for the same strand in a brick and mortar retail store. But make sure you check them out first. One place you can make inquiries is on the Pearl Forum at Pearl-Guide.com, an online forum where you’ll find many pearl experts and experienced pearl buyers who are often willing to give valuable advice.

In difficult economic times pearls can be a good investment, as they will keep their value for generations if you purchase good quality, for a good price and take good care of them afterward.