Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pearl Education Resources - Online Sea of Pearl Retailers Makes Pearl Education Crucial

Type in pearl necklace into Google and see how many pearl companies jump up to greet you as a potential consumer - last time I checked our competition, there were over 5 million! In this online sea of pearl retailers vying for your attention, it is absolutely crucial to your journey through them that you know what to look for in their pearl jewelry descriptions, what to notice may be missing, and what to expect to pay for real pearls.

First, look over several sites that have pearl education sections, preferably ones that aren't selling pearls and solely educate. Additionally, we've provided a basic pearl grading guide below that we use to educate our clients on pearl necklaces, pearl earrings, and our pearl bracelets.

Judging the Quality of a PearlPearls receive one of the following ratings: A, AA, AA+, and AAA, with AA+ and AAA being of the higher quality, which we sell to our clients. These ratings are determined by six main categories as:

Color - There are two basic elements to the color of a pearl: body and overtone. The body is usually white, cream, black or pink, but may also be green, blue, or golden. The overtone is another color that exists over the body. This can include silver, pink, or green. Color has little effect on the value of a pearl, but different colors are often preferred to match the skin tone of the individual.

Luster - This is the most important quality in judging the value of a pearl. A high luster is highly desirable, with the most valued having the appearance of a mirror. This is usually the result of a thicker layer of nacre.

Nacre Thickness - Nacre (mother of pearl) is the layer of calcium carbonate that gives the pearl its distinctive appearance. The thickness of this nacre depends on length of time that the pearl remains in the oyster. The thicker the layers of nacre, the larger the pearl and more valuable and rare it is.

Shape - Pearls come in many different shapes, though round tends to be the most desirable and most sought after. Other shapes include baroque, button, tear drop, and near round. These other shapes may be desirable based on jewelry type (flat backed pearls often work well as earrings) or personal preference.

Size - This is largely a personal preference, depending whether you prefer small or large pearls. Nonetheless, size does affect the price, with larger pearls being more expensive since they take significantly longer to cultivate.

Surface - More desirable pearls have clean surfaces. Though a perfect pearl is extremely rare, you should look for pearls with the fewest blemishes or wrinkles in the surface of the pearl.

Now that you know the basic factors to consider, decide whether you're interested in saltwater pearls or freshwater pearls. Freshwater pearls are grown in freshwater and often contain more nacre (or more pearl) than most of their saltwater cousins. This means that they have a higher luster than most pearls. Though generally similar in appearance to saltwater pearls, they are more affordable because they are grown in mussels that can produce many times the amount that saltwater oysters can.

Akoya Saltwater pearls are valued for their rounded shape and attractive high luster, which makes them shine. Grown in small akoya oysters, they generally range in size from about 2 to 10 millimeters and are exceptionally well suited for use with pearl jewelry because of their consistent shape and color. They grow mainly in Japan, China, and Vietnam. These pearls are rarer and more expensive than their freshwater cousins due to their scarcity. They are generally white or cream colored, with overtones of rose, silver, and even green.

Finally, make sure that the pearl company specifies the type of pearl (freshwater versus saltwater pearls) and what size pearl you can expect, which is always in millimeters (mm). Also some other important points to consider include clasp type (pure gold, gold-filled, plate, or silver) and where the pearl is from such as China or Japan.

Keep these factors in mind and you are well on your way to judging excellent quality in both pearl jewelry and the companies that sell it. We welcome email and questions from anyone regarding pearl information including non-clients should you have any questions.

M. Tyler Boles

CEO and Founder

Boles-Ingenito Ltd. - Pearl and Diamond Importers

Pearl Necklaces and Pearl Jewelry

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