How To Determine A Pearl's Quality

Published: 20th July 2009
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Pearl jewelry enthusiasts want to know that they are getting the best quality pearls for their money. Several factors go into determining the quality of a pearl. These include nacre, luster, size, shape and color. These factors don't stand alone, however, as they interconnect to determine the pearl's overall quality and worth.

Nacre - The nacre is the amount of pearl covering the nucleus that was originally implanted in the oyster that produced the pearl. The two combined, the nacre and the nucleus, are what determines a pearl's size. The thickness of the nacre determines durability and resistance to discoloring, as well as luster. Large cultured pearls with thin nacres are quite prone to cracking and blemishes. Small pearls, on the other hand, with a good bit of nacre surrounding the nucleus, can be quite flawless and therefore of higher worth and quality than their larger, less perfect cousins.

Luster - A pearl's luster is its unique, sublime quality. Its iridescence can hold an admirer spellbound with its effortless beauty. Luster is determined by nacre thickness, as said above. The smoother and blemish-free the surface of the pearl, the higher the luster. Luster can be determined by admiring one's reflection in its surface. If the reflection is blurry or marred, the pearl is of a lower quality. A clear mirror-like (or nearly so) reflection is given by a high quality, high luster pearl.

Size - The size of the pearl is determined by the age of the oyster. The paradox that the older the oyster, the older the pearl, the greater the beauty is not lost on the pearl enthusiast. In a society that measures beauty in relationship to youth, pearls are a contradiction in terms. Pearls are measured in millimeters, with small, medium, large and very large descriptors. Small pearls are those between 3 and 4.5 millimeters. Medium pearls measure 5 to 6 millimeters. Pearls from 7 to 8 millimeters in size are considered Large, while any pearl larger than 8 millimeters is labeled Very Large. The larger the pearl, the higher the price, though the other factors will have a hand in determining overall quality and worth.

Shape - Perfectly round pearls are the most valuable, as most pearls, while spherical, seldom achieve exact roundness. Pearls come in a variety of shapes - round, tear drop, ringed, off-round and baroque. The rounder the pearl is, the higher its quality and worth. To test a pearl for roundness, simply roll it on a flat surface. The easier and smoother it rolls, the rounder it will most likely be.

Color - Pearls come in several colors. These are white, cream, pink, silver, black and gold. No one color necessarily is more valuable than any other - much of a color's worth is determined by the jewelry industry, as fashion trends come and go. When judging the color of a pearl, one needs to look for the color projection. This is the overall color that the pearl "gives" as it is rolled. This should be a blue, green or rose hue. It is this "coming from within" quality that determines the value of a pearl, based on coloring. The depth of the color projection also adds greatly to its value.

The value of the jewelry into which the pearls are placed is determined by the quality of the pearls used, as well as the uniformity of the pearls in color, size, shape and luster, especially when strung in a necklace, bracelet or drop earring. One must also factor in the value of the setting - the type and quality of precious medal used to create the piece. A poorly set or strung flawless pearl will be of less value than a well set or well-strung less perfect pearl, due to the piece's overall composition.

Purchasing pearl jewelry can be a highly rewarding and memorable experience. Being an informed buyer means that you can stand firm with your choice, as you have the confidence that your pearls are the finest quality your money could buy.Vics Fine is a leading provider of south sea pearls online. With a wide selection of Tanzanite earrings, pendants and much much more we're sure to have the perfect piece for you or a loved one. Visit online today.

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