Pearl Grading

Below are the quality standards used for pearl grading by Pearl Distributors. It’s important that you be aware that not all pearl companies use the same standards for grading their pearls, so while they may use the AAA – A system, the AAA pearls of one company may only be equivalent to another company’s AA pearls.

Be sure to check the details carefully or email them for their grading standards. A reputable company will be happy to give you the grading details for your comparison. See below for grading information of different pearl types sold by Pearl Distributors.

AKOYA PEARLS

 Pearl Grade: Photo Surface Quality Nacre Thickness Luster Reflections Matching
Hanadama Minimal to no visible surface irregularities Nacre thickness is over .4mm on any side, as confirmed by optical fibre Excellent to outstanding Very sharp reflections Excellent
AAA A minimum of 95% of the pearl surface is clean Visibly Thick Nacre Excellent Sharp to very sharp reflections Excellent
AA+ A minimum of 90% of the pearl surface is clean Visibly Thick Nacre Good to excellent Good to sharp reflections Good to Excellent
AA Not Sold at PD A minimum of 80% of the pearl surface is clean Medium nacre; bead nucleus may be visible upon inspections 6.5mm-8.5mm Medium to good Medium to good; reflections may be blurred Fair to Good
A Not Sold at PD A minimum of 70% of the pearl surface is clean Thin nacre; bead nucleus often visible upon inspection Poor to medium; pearls may appear chalky Medium; reflections may be blurred Fair to Good

Note: Freshwater Orient pearl necklaces are hand made from loose AAA pearls that are selected as outstanding and kept aside for use in very high-quality earrings and pendants. We drill them ourselves to make this line. They are not bought as bulk AAA necklace strands.

TAHITIAN PEARLS

 Pearl Grade A-D Tahitian System

Pearl Grade AAA-A System Photo Surface Quality Luster Matching

Top Gem

Gem No visible flaws Excellent, almost metallic with sharp reflections of both light sources and head or hand of viewer Excellend

A

AAA Minimum 90% clean. Very lIght surface irregularities not showing on more than 10% of the surface. Most of these will disappear into the drill hole. Only one deep inclusion allowed per 18-inch strand Excellent luster with sharp reflections of light sources and head or hand of viewer. Some slight blurring of the edge of the reflection may be seen Excellend

A/B

AA+ Minimum 80% clean. Light surface irregularities limited to less than 20% of the surface. One to two deep inclusions allowed per 18-inch strand High to very high luster with light sources reflected with blurred edges and reflection of head or hand of viewer seen but slightly blurred Very good

B

AA Not Sold at PD Minimum 70% clean. Moderate amount of light surface irregularities. One to two deep inclusions allowed. Good to high luster with light sources blurred edges and reflection of head or hand indistinct Very good

C

A+ Not Sold at PD Minimum 60% clean with many surface irregularities noticeable. Deep inclusions limited to less than 10% of the surface. Medium to good Fair to good

D

A Not Sold at PD Minimum 40% clean with many visible flaws including deep inclusions and white spots. Poor to medium Fair to good

Note: All Tahitian pearls have a minimum nacre thickness of 0.8mm. Pearls with thinner nacre are deemed unsuitable for export and destroyed.

SOUTH SEA PEARLS

 Pearl Grade Photo Surface Quality Luster Matching
Gem No visible flaws Excellent luster, with light sources clearly reflected Excellent
AAA Minimum 90% clean. Most light imperfections will disappear into drill hole. Only one deep inclusion allowed per 18-inch strand High to excellent luster, with light sources clearly reflected but may have lightly blurred edges Excellent
AA+ Minimum 80% clean. Only one to two deep inclusions allowed per 18-inch strand. High to very high luster, with light sources reflected but with blurred edges Very good to excellent
AA Minimum 70% clean. Light surface flaws but only one to two deep inclusions. Good luster, with light sources dimly reflected and blurred Very good
A Not Sold at PD Minimum 60% clean. Deep inclusions may not cover more than 10%-15% Fair luster with poor reflection of light sources Fait to good

Note: South Sea Pearls have a more satiny luster than some other pearls and are not as reflective.