To begin, since each jeweler can have their own valuing system for pearl jewelry, e.g. triple A – A, A – D, etc., we will focus on sharing with you the underlying basics, as set forth by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The 7 key steps that follow will help you determine the value and quality of pearl necklaces. The 7 key steps are as follows:
The luster or the shine of a pearl is a critical factor in judging the quality of the pearl necklace. Pearl surface should not only emit a shine, but there should be a deep glow emanating from within the pearl. Therefore, a pearl with a shiny, deep glow would be considered more desirable than one with a dull or chalky appearance.
While luster is the most important differential of cultured pearl necklace quality, it is extremely important to assess the quality and thickness of the nacre when choosing a necklace. To meet the consumer demand for pearls, some pearl farmers remove the pearls from the oysters too soon and before the nacre has thickened. As a rule of thumb, desirable thickness would be equivalent to 4 crisp bills laid flat. Therefore, pearl necklaces with a thick layer of nacre are more valuable.
If you want to ensure that the pearls that you purchase will last, you should examine the surface of the pearls and look for any existing damage. Should the pearls already show damage, such as chipping, cracking or peeling, especially around the drill holes, they should not be purchased. This type of damage is likely to grow worse over time. The fewer blemishes that a pearl has, the more valuable it is.
In general, the rounder the pearl, the more valuable it is. Pearls with a beaded core are almost always perfectly round. However, it is also worth noting that non-round pearls, like baroque, could be considered valuable, too, as they are so unique and fashionable.
With pearls being created organically, it is extremely rare that two will be exact. Therefore, when pearls are gathered to make a piece of jewelry, pearls that are closely similar will make the piece of jewelry more desirable.
Colors are almost unlimited. For the most part though, color does not really impact the value. However, depending on the type of pearl, some colors can be considered more highly desirable than others. In addition to the dominant color of the pearl, pearls can also exhibit overtones. Overtones are a slightly different color than the dominant color. For example, a white pearl can have a hint of rose.
Being educated regarding your cultured pearl will not only help you feel more comfortable about your purchase, but will help give you the confidence to shop with ease the next time you decide to add to your pearl jewelry collection or to purchase some as a gift. Besides, learning about pearls is fun!