Guide to Pearls
There are many things to take into consideration when buying classic string of pearls:
Pearls are classified by origin, ( saltwater or freshwater ) then graded by size, shape, nacre thickness, colour, lustre, surface clarity and how they match. Here’s a quick summary of pearl quality factors to get started:
The combination of surface brilliance and a deep-seated glow, the luster of a good-quality cultured pearl should be bright, not dull. Your reflection should be seen clearly on the surface of a cultured pearl. Any pearl that looks too chalky or dull indicates low quality.
It is rare to find a perfectly round cultured pearl – and these are considered most valuable. While many people prefer the perfect spheres of classic pearl jewellery, baroque pearls -- those that have an irregular shape -- are now commonly seen in fine jewellery. Freshwater pearls, from freshwater sources like lakes and rivers.
Measured by their diameter in millimeters, the average cultured pearls sold today are between 7 and 7 1/2 millimeters. Generally, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it will be.
Cleanliness of the cultured pearl surface refers to the absence of disfiguring spots, blemish or cracks. A cultured pearl with a clean surface will have a higher value than a spotted, bumpy or cracked one.
Rose Silver/White Cream Gold Blue/Gray cultured pearls occur in colors from rosé to black. While color is a matter of preference, rosé or silver/white pearls tend to look best on fair skin tones, while cream and gold-tone cultured pearls are flattering to darker complexions.
Pearl Jewellery Do’s and Don’ts
DO: Select a vendor that specialises in pearls
DO: Research pearl grading and their value factors
DON’T: Get mislead by inflated pearl grades. AAAA is NOT a real grade.
DON’T: Get stuck on the brand name
How to Clean & Store Pearls
- Apply cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume before putting on any pearl jewelry. When you remove the jewelry, wipe it carefully with a soft cloth to remove any traces of these substances.
- You can also wash your pearl jewelry with mild soap and water. Do not clean cultured pearls with any chemicals, abrasives or solvents. These substances can damage your pearls.
- Always lay cultured pearl strands flat to dry. Hanging a strand may stretch the threads.
- Do not toss your cultured pearl jewelry carelessly into a purse, bag or jewel box. A pearl's surface is soft and can be scratched by hard metal edges or by the harder gemstones of other jewelry pieces.
- Place cultured pearls in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away.
- Cosmetics, perspiration, oils and ordinary wear weaken and stretch the threads on which the pearls are strung. Bring your pearls back to your jeweler for restringing once a year. Make certain the pearls are strung with a knot between each pearl. This will prevent loss of pearls if the string should break.