The jewelry industry suffers from a great deal of ignorance about pearls — even professional jewelers find it challenging to identify pearl types, grade them, and determine the value of pearls.
It’s not surprising therefore that there are several questions to ask before plunking down hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a special pearl necklace or pair of pearl earrings.
Assuming you already have a general idea of what type of jewelry you wish to purchase (i.e. pearl pendant, earrings, full set, etc.) we will now focus on the process of choosing the right type of pearl before moving on to jewelry designs, budgetary issues, and finally, choosing the right vendor where you will purchase pearls.
STEP 1: Selecting the Right Type of Pearl
If you’re considering buying a pearl necklace (or pair of earrings), you might be wondering: what kind of necklace should you get? There are different size ranges, color ranges, and budget parameters for each of these.
First up, let’s talk about the most frequently asked question since it deals with the two most popular types of white pearls (and also the easiest to confuse!).
STEP 2: Select the Perfect Size of Pearl
Our pearls are pictured on models so that you know how they will fit once they arrive, because we offer tons of advice and real-life examples.
In general, pearl sizes ranging between 7.0 and 9.5mm are the most popular and versatile sizes.
Pearls get more valuable the larger they get (all other characteristics like Luster, Shape, and Surface Quality remaining the same).
In this eBook, you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of the sizes of different pearl types, including an illustrated guide to pearl necklaces and earrings from Akoyas to South Sea pearls.
STEP 3: Decide the length of the necklace
An 18-Inch “Princess Length” pearl necklace is the most popular length and is the most versatile. In today’s fashion world, what is considered the “Modern Classic” length rests between 1.5 and 2.0-inches below the hollow of the throat, allowing it to fit a wide assortment of necklines and outfits.
STEP 4: Decide what your budget will be
A fine cultured pearl earring in 14K gold with an Akoya pearl stud should start at approximately $100, and the same applies to freshwater pearls.
Like diamonds, pearls have a variety of pricing tiers, and the price increases exponentially with the size of the pearl. A 9.0-9.5mm Akoya pearl necklace is considerably more expensive than a 7.0-7.5mm necklace.
As you increase millimeter size, expect to pay between 30-50% more. A variety of factors contribute to the pricing issue, but rarity is at the top of the list. A single 15.0mm fine quality South Sea pearl can take up to a year to acquire nacre layers, and many risks, time and labor go into culturing a larger pearl.