Pearl Value Factors

Pearl Necklace Grading System

In all, there are 8 value factors that you should be made aware of when shopping for pearl jewelry. They are: size, shape, color, luster, orient, surface quality, nacre quality, and matching.

1) The Size of pearls can range from 2mm to 20mm in diameter. Typically the larger the pearl, the rarer it tends to be, and the more it costs. But one should not just look at size when determining the worth of a pearl. All the value factors should be taken into consideration. Smaller pearls with fewer blemishes and higher luster or deep orient can be more valuable than dull, larger pearls.

2) The shape of the pearl is important when looking at jewelry. One usually wants the shape of a pearl to be round, but semi-round or baroque shapes can be extremely valuable in various pieces of pearl jewelry. These are common in Tahitian Pearls and South Sea Pearls and provide a truly unique piece of jewellery.

3) The color of a pearl contains three basic components: Hue, Tone, Saturation and Overtone. They should all be taken into consideration when purchasing pearl jewelry. The hue is described as the pearl’s first impression. The tone is its lightness or darkness. And the saturation is the color’s strength or intensity. Overtone colors are secondary, translucent colors that lie across a pearl’s surface.

4) Luster is the true magic of a pearl. It is the most important of all the value factors. The higher the luster is, the higher the value of the pearl. Luster is not just surface reflections. It is the way the light travels through the translucent layers of nacre, and reflects back to the eye. The effect on a pearl can be described as an “inner glow”.

5) Orient is described as rainbow hues glistening across the surface and beneath the surface of the pearl. This is caused by the overlapping layers of nacre that is apparent on the pearl. The nacre is actually overlapping crystal plates with irregular edges. Deep true Orient is very rare and must be considered as a value factor. A strand of pearls with Deep Orient is certainly a prize to behold.

6) Surface quality is another important value factor. Cultured pearls are organic, so they each have different surface characteristics. Things like bumps or spots or wrinkles all decrease the pearl’s value. In reality, a completely flawless pearl is exceptional and very rare. Don’t get caught up on minor surface blemishes. You must consider the overall value factors when determining your purchase.

7) Nacre quality is the essence of the pearl itself. It has a close relationship with the luster in a pearl which makes it a crucial value factor. The appearance of a pearl determines its worth and pearls with thicker nacre typically have deeper luster and are more valuable. Of course thick nacre doesn’t always guarantee a beautiful pearl, but it goes hand in hand with the luster levels most of the time. This is where Freshwater pearls have a leg up on the competition as the Freshwater Pearl is almost 100% Nacre.

8) Finally matching is an important value factor in strands of pearls. Pearls are like snowflakes, there are no two that are exactly alike. This is why every pearl is sorted strenuously by pearl processors and designers to find ones that match as closely as possible. Matching is will rely on all value factors to complete the matching process. Matching includes Size, Colour, Luster, Orient, Surface Quality and Nacre Quality.