LUSTER: High quality pearls clearly reflect objects, colors and textures near them.
SURFACE: The finest pearl is virtually free of spots, cracks and bumps on the surface.
SHAPE: The rounder, more symmetrical a pearl is, the more valuable it is. Asymmetrical pearls – called baroque pearls –can also be lustrous and appealing and usually cost less than round pearls.
COLOR: White pearls with a hint of rose overtone are considered the most valuable, followed by creams, golden and blue/gray. Natural black pearls can be very expensive.
SIZE: Cultured pearls are measured in millimeters. Generally, the larger the pearl the more valuable it is.
MATCHING: The consistency in appearance and quality of the pearls in a strand.
Akoya: Japan and China
White South Sea: Australia, Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia
Black South Sea: French Polynesia (Tahiti)
Freshwater: Japan, China, United States
Mabe: Japan, Indonesia and Australia
|Pearls that are cultures in the salt water oceans and bays of the world. There are three primary locations/varieties.|
|Cultivated primarily in Japan and China using the small akoya mollusk. Most are white to cream body color and range from 2 mm to 10 mm.|
|Cultivated in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They range in color from white to golden yellow (unusual colors, too) and range in size from 8 to 20 mm.|
|Cultivated around the islands of Tahiti and French Polynesia in general. They range from white to black and include colors like green and purple. They range in size from 8 to 18 mm.|
|Cultivated in a freshwater mollusk; usually nucleated with mollusk tissue rather than a shell bead. May be any of a variety of shapes, including round.|
|Pearly domes that grow attached to the mollusk's shell. They are cultivated in both saltwater and freshwater shells. Only one side has nacre. They are cut from the shell to be used in jewelry.|
|Blister pearls that have been cut from the shell, filled with epoxy and cemented to a mother-of-pearl back; AKA assembled blister pearls.|
|Tiny pearls which form naturally in the mollusk during the pearl culturing process.|
|A round to semi-round pearl that, because of an irregularity, has been flattened on one side.|
|A pearl drilled halfway through its diameter so it can be cemented onto a post.|
Before they are brought to market, cultured pearls usually undergo one or more of the following processes:
Cleaning: Removes any residue from the mollusk
Processes that change the natural color of the pearl
Dyeing: Changes the color of the pearl by immersing it in a natural or chemical dye; detection is in recognizing the unnatural uniformity of the color of the pearl and in dye concentrations that may be visible near the drill hole.
Irradiation: Changes the color of the pearl; is suspected if the color of the pearl is highly metallic or if the nucleus bead is very dark.
PEARLS ON SETTINGS