How well do you know your pearls? Knowing the factors that determine a pearl’s worth will assist you greatly when it comes to acquiring your product wholesale. It will also save you time and money as you will be able to quickly distinguish which pearls will be worth your financial investment.

So what factors determine a pearl’s value? Let’s examine this subject in a bit further detail. There are several value factors that are utilized by The GIA Pearl Grading System and they are as follows:

  • Size. A round pearl is measured across it’s diameter in millimeters. For other shapes of pearls, both the length and width of the pearl should be measured. Pearl sizes range from 2mm to 24mm in size typically. Sizes above 8mm are considered large in FW pearl standards.
  • Shape. Pearls can be round, near round, oval, button, teardrop, baroque, Biwa and keshi
  • Color. The main body color and overtone color (rainbow-like iridescent). Freshwater pearls come in natural hues of silver, pink, white, cream and can be dyed most hues in the color spectrum.
  • Luster. This term describes the light reflected from the surface of the pearl. It is described by its intensity and sharpness. Pearls that reflect mirror-like finishes are the highest level of luster.
  • Surface. Most pearls have surface characteristics of irregularities. Surface condition is judged by the size, number, location, visibility and types of blemishes.
  • Nacre Quality. Nacre quality is determined by its thickness and layering. If the nucleus is visible, the layer is too thin. A chalky appearance may result from thin or poor layering of nacre.
  • Matching. Matching describes the uniformity of pearls for the previously described six factors.

So now that we have our values down, let’s solidify our new found knowledge by reviewing how pearls are formed. That way we will be able to further understand how these factors relate to the pearl generation process.

So where do pretty pearls come from? When you see a high-quality pearl in the showcase, it is easy to forget that the process of harvesting one pearl lasts for years so let’s learn how they are made. First of all, pearls can come from either fresh or saltwater sources. There are types of freshwater pearls that boast a high-level of quality. Freshwater pearls have the tendency to have an irregular shape. However, each type of pearl is valued on its own merits.

There are three types of pearls: natural, cultured and imitation. Because imitation is not a graded type of pearl, we will not be delving into further detail about how they are produced. Here is a brief description of the two graded types:

Natural or “Oriental” (origin-saltwater): Pearls are produced when an irritant, such as a piece of sand, works its way into a particular species of oyster, mussel or clam. In defense, the mollusk secretes a fluid which coats the irritant over and over again. In time, a pretty pearl is formed.

Cultured (origin- freshwater): This pearl undergoes the same process with the exception that the irritant (which can be a bead or piece of shell is surgically embedded in the mollusk. The bead or shell is called Mother of Pearl.

Natural: Pearls are fashioned without any human intervention. In most cases an irritant in the form of a minute snail, worm, fish, crab or even a particle of shell clay or mud becomes trapped in a depression and causes the pearl process to begin. The longer the pearl remains inside the mollusk, the greater the chance of it becoming baroque.

Now that you have a good understanding of how pearls are formed and the way they are valued, you may wonder where you can find a trusted company in which to purchase your pearls. Beads of Cambay is an excellent place to purchase a variety of high-quality pearls in an array of colors, shapes and sizes. The selection is also superior. An added bonus is that their website is also user friendly.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why pearls are highly esteemed by jewelry enthusiasts and makers. Now that you are familiar with what makes a pearl valuable and how they are formed, you should be able to make a more educated decision regarding which ones to purchase. Be sure to speak with the company’s gemologist as they would be a very appropriate resource to be certain that your needs correlate with the pearls you are purchasing. Use your pearl power wisely and happy shopping!