Pearls are the magnificent creation of nature. They are one of the most precious gemstones throughout history. Everything about pearls is fascinating, starting from their process of formation and never ending with the significant amount of beauty they add to any lady’s style. Such great stones require a lot of caution when selecting one to buy, but don’t panic because even the steps you need to take to find the perfect pearl are enjoyable.

Before you read further, here is an outline of what you shall learn after reading this article.

Table of Contents

  • What are the types of pearls?
  • What to consider when buying pearls?
  • How can I get real pearls?
  • What color pearl is the most valuable?

1.What are The Types of Pearls?

It is easy to pick the prettiest pearl out of a bunch, but beauty is not the only factor you should depend on, you also need to consider the quality of a pearl according to:

  • The pearl’s type.
  • Growth location.
  • Size and appearance.
  • The way it was grown.

The type of a pearl depends on two main factors:

All pearls grow inside an oyster. The process begins when a small grain of sand or a piece of shell is placed inside an oyster. Then the oyster starts producing a glossy substance called “nacre” that coats the sand grain. Over time, layers of nacre pile up to form charming pearls. Naturally, this process happens deep in ocean waters, but it can be done in a laboratory, too. Therefore, there are two types of pearls according to growth, natural and cultured.

  • Natural pearls are rare and expensive. There are no differences in appearance between natural and cultured pearls; the only difference is that natural pearls are grown in wild oysters at the depths of oceans.
  • Cultured pearls are made in laboratories by implanting a grain of sand inside an oyster and waiting for it to grow. The majority of sold pearls are cultured; in terms of appearance, they seem identical to natural pearls.

Types of Pearls According to the Location of Growth

The location of growth indicates the type of ocean or sea in which the pearl was grown.

  • Freshwater and Saltwater Pearls

These two types of pearls are similar with slight differences.

Freshwater pearls:

  • They are cultured in mussels.
  • Their average size is no larger than 7 mm.
  • They are available in a variety of shapes and colors, but the “baroque” shape is the most common, they can also be found in round shapes that are more expensive than the “baroque.”

 Saltwater pearls:

  • They also come in many shapes and colors.
  • They can grow larger than freshwater pearls. Both types are available in almost all colors.
  • Akoya Pearls

This type is named after the “Akoya” oysters of Japan. Akoya pearls are the best example of classic pearls.

  • Their sizes range between 3 mm to 10 mm.
  • They come in round shapes.
  • The standard colors of these pearls are milky white or rose with golden or silver tones.
  • South Sea Black Pearls

Black pearls grow in black oysters on the coast of Tahiti.

  • The pearls of this region are known for their vibrant black colors and large sizes; their minimum size starts from 8 mm.
  • The most desired color of these pearls is black with shades of light green.
  • There are other shades that overtone black pearls, such as silver, dark green, navy blue, deep plum, pink, and blue.
  • South Sea White Pearls

South sea gold pearls are the rarest type among all the varieties in the south sea; they only exist in the gold oysters around the shores of Tahiti and the neighboring tropical regions.

  • These pearls gain their value from their large sizes, 9 mm minimum, and their unique golden color.
  • Their color grades range from light champagne to bright gold.
  • Gold oysters can also grow white and cream pearls, but they look like the pearls produced by silver oysters.
  • Cortez Pearls

This type of pearls grows in the rare rainbow oysters at the coast of the Cortez sea in Mexico.

  • They are categorized as black pearls, but they are also available in a range of other colors.
  • The most iconic and unique Cortez pearls are the ones in dark green with bright rainbow tones of rose and gold.
  • The size of these pearls begins at 8 mm increasing to 12 mm.
  • Conch Pearls

Conch pearls are not traditional because they are not formed of nacre; they grow inside a conch shell. Conches are large shells in spiral shapes that exist in the Caribbean and the South Pacific Seas.

  • They are found in different sizes and many shapes, but only a few are round.
  • Conch pearls are available in bright pink and peach shades with exterior flame patterns; these patterns set a pearl’s value.

2.What to Consider When Buying Pearls?

All pearls are beautiful; this is a satisfying fact, but it is also the reason for confusion when buying a pearl. Fortunately, some factors can guide you in making the right choice.

  • Color

Color is the first thing that anyone would notice about a pearl. Pearls colors vary according to the type you choose, but you have to keep in mind two things: the body color and the tone color. The body color is the main color of a pearl, while the tone color is the pearls sheen, i.e., the color that floats on its surface. For example, a pearl could be white with shades of gold, or black with tones of green.

Tips for Examining Pearls Colors

  • Put the pearl on a white background, such as a piece of white velvet or any other white material.
  • Use a full-spectrum light for the maximum ability of clear viewing.
  • When you intend to buy a pearls strand, check the color of each pearl in contrast to the one next to it.
  • Luster

Luster refers to how shiny and reflective a pearl is; the more brilliant it is, the higher its price gets. Pearls of high luster can mirror your reflection if you look closely. A pearl’s ability to provide high mirroring is a sign of high value.

Tips for Examining Pearls Luster

  • It is easy to examine the luster of round-shaped pearls. However, it gets more complicated in baroque pearls because of their various shades, so consider consulting a specialist in such cases.
  • Examine the whole surface of a pearl to make sure that it has the same luster all over the sides.
  • Surface Perfection

Each pearl has minor surface imperfections; there might be some small marks, lumps, or curves. These imperfections are the result of some other foreign bodies that existed inside the oyster that brushed against the pearl during the formation process.

Tips for Examining Pearls’ Surface Perfection

  • Examine each pearl individually on a strand, and try to spot its imperfections.
  • Some retailers sand down pearls to hide their blemishes, which lowers the pearl’s value dramatically. Make sure that a pearl’s imperfections are not removed; you can spot this by finding a change in luster or differences in the texture on some parts.
  • Size

Logically, the larger a pearl, the more valuable it is, because it is rarer. Large pearls are the result of big grains of sand, and the period it is left to cure inside the oyster. The typical size of pearls varies between 3 mm to 12 mm; of course, you may find smaller or larger sizes. The main tip for examining the size is to check if all the pearls in a strand are the same size, or at least very close.

  • Shapes

There is a wide variety of pearl shapes; round ones are the most valuable because they are harder to form. However, the shape of a pearl is always a matter of personal preferences. The most common shapes of pearls are:

  • Round: perfect sphere-shaped with no apparent blemishes.
  • Off-round: relatively wide in one of the pearl’s sides. Off-round pearls are sometimes sold as round ones.
  • Oval: pearls with a clear difference between height and width.
  • Drops: pearls that have one rounded end, while the other is pointed.
  • Button: an almost round pearl, with a couple of asymmetrical groves.
  • Mabe: a round pearl that has a flat side forming a half-circle shape.
  • Baroque: a natural pearl with many lumps and curves.
  • Nacre

The nacre is the substance that an oyster excretes to produce pearls by covering the central object. The longer a pearl spends time within the oyster, the more layer of nacre it gains. Consequently, high-nacre pearls are more desired than low-nacre ones. You can find out that the nacre layer is thin if you can see the central nucleus reflection through it, and if you can scratch away the exterior easily.

3.How Can I Get Real Pearls?

After completing the process of choosing a pearl carefully, you will have to take another essential step, which is making sure that the pearl is real. Always remember that both natural and cultured pearls are genuine, and the only difference is that cultured pearls are formed with an intervention of humans. Still, the process of formation is entirely the same.

There are many ways to spot whether a pearl is real or fake:

  • Examine the pearl visually. Contrary to your expectations, if a pearl is too perfect, it is most likely fake. As noted previously, real pearls will always have slight imperfections and blemishes. If all the pearls in a necklace have the same perfect smooth and round shape, then the pearls are fake.
  • Real pearls have pure luster, hold your pearl and look closely; you should be able to see your reflection over its surface.
  • Rub a pearl against the biting edge of your teeth, a real pearl will feel a little gritty and rough, while fake ones will feel smooth.
  • Rub two pearls together; if the pearls are genuine, they will produce pearl powder, the same powder would be created if a real pearl is gently scrubbed with a knife. However, if the pearls are fake, the friction would be smooth, and you won’t find any residue.
  • Drop a pearl over a glass surface from 60 cm hight, then examine the rebound. If the pearl bounces for more than 30 cm up, it would be real. Fake pearls bounce very low.
  • Fire flames can test a pearl’s authenticity. If you burn a real pearl with mild flames, it will stay shiny and wouldn’t produce any odor. Fake pearls will lose their shine, and you will smell a bad scent.
  • Feel pearls with your hands. Real pearls will feel cold and would warm up only when you wear them. Fake ones will stay warm even when they have been left aside for a while.
  • Bounce a pearl in your hand to measure its weight. Real pearls are heavier than they seem according to their size, while fake ones are much lighter.

4.What color pearl is the most valuable?

When pearls are mentioned, we all think of the beautiful milky-white spheres; it is almost like the word “pearl” has become a synonym for the white color because white pearls are the most popular. Although pearls are available in nearly all colors, the most valuable and expensive type in the market is the south sea pearls, which are mainly white with golden overtones. Every lady deserves to own a collection of pearls; their aesthetic value has been praised for many centuries. So the next time you buy a pearl, take your time to choose the right one that you will love to wear forever.

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