Pearl & Diamond Importers
Boles-Ingenito, Ltd. - Pearl Pearl Education
If you're looking for more information before you buy or just want more pearl information, we have built this pearl education section to provide you with all of the pearl information you need to understand what makes pearls and pearl jewelry vary in price, color, and style. Our firm is also available via email to answer any additional questions you may have that are not in this pearl guide.
Freshwater Pearls - These pearls are grown in freshwater and often contain more nacre (or more pearl) than most of their saltwater pearl cousins. This means that they have a higher luster than most pearls and are therefore used in freshwater pearl necklace designs. 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 and are also referred to as cultured pearl necklaces.
Akoya Saltwater Pearls - These 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.
Pearl Earring and Pearl Necklace Styles | Pearl Education - Our Pearl Guide
Judging the Quality of a Pearl
Pearls 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 in our pearl earring and necklace designs. 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.
Cultured Pearls and Natural Pearls
Cultured Pearls are the most frequent kind of pearl. They are slightly more affordable than natural pearls, which form when an irritant naturally enters the shell of an oyster and a defense mechanism coats the object in layers of calcium carbonate called nacre (also known as mother of pearl). Only one oyster in every few hundred will produce a natural pearl, which is why they have traditionally been of such great value.
Cultured pearls evolve in the same way as natural ones, though farmers intentionally place irritants in the oysters to begin the formation of the pearl. This process will continue for at least six months, though most farms will grow the pearl over a number of years. The primary way to tell the difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl is through gemological x-ray, as the difference in appearance is often relatively slight.
We welcome feedback on our online pearl guide! See our Freshwater Pearl Necklace designs or our Akoya Pearl Necklace designs here.