Freshwater pearls cover a wider range of colors and sha […]
Freshwater pearls cover a wider range of colors and shapes than any other pearl type. Originally these pearls were marketed as a lower quality, inexpensive alternative to Akoya pearls. For this reason, jewelry designers traditionally used freshwater pearls for pieces that favored design over the gems themselves. However, since the 1990s, a class of freshwater pearls that are round and lustrous have emerged which rival Akoya pearls in both quality and value. Freshwater pearls cover the widest range of options for pearl buyers in size, shape and color.
Buying pearls can be a daunting and difficult task for the uninitiated but with a little bit of research, you'll be able to choose the best pearls based on the quality, style, and color to make the task more interesting and enjoyable. The goal of this page is to be a simple primer for those new to shopping for pearl jewelry.
When dealing with cultured pearls there are several factors that will determine the overall value of a pearl. The biggest factor is shape. Round pearls almost always command the highest price, but many love the uniqueness of baroque and off-round pearls as well.
The surface of a pearl is another important factor to consider; the cleaner the pearl's surface the better. A pearl is a natural gemstone so there will always be some form of imperfection, but as long as they are minor, it won't be noticeable when worn.
Related to surface is luster; a poor surface will negatively impact the luster of a pearl. High luster is what all pearl buyers are looking for; a high quality pearl with high luster will be almost mirror-like in appearance. A pearl's luster is what makes a pearl "pop" and stand out.
Last but possibly most important is size, and in the case of pearls, size matters. Traditionally a women will "earn the right" to wear larger pearls as she matures. A good rule of thumb is to choose pearls 7mm and larger for adult women and keep anything smaller reserved for young girls and teenagers.