New Take on Upscale Jewelry: A Short Guide to Buying Pearls


1_woman wearing pearl set

Pearls bear probably the most intriguing history and mythology. Respected and revered from ancient times, these natural gems have been associated with high class, grace, elegance, wisdom, power, and beauty. If you remember Audrey Hepburn or Liz Taylor proudly wearing their pearls, you do know that such jewelry has always been a statement of the absolute and timeless feminine charm. According to financial specialists, pearls are making a huge comeback. Fashion designers gave them a fresh and bold spin lately, incorporating them into high-end jewelry pieces to die for. Let’s take a fresh look at pearls and learn what you should pay attention to before buying pearl jewelry.

What Types of Pearls Are You Looking For?

Pearls of different colors

Spherical pearls of different colors. Vector set.

Many people believe that pearls are white and, in rare cases, black. But pearls can take your breath away with their divine luster and hues, ranging from silver and gold to eerie pinks, dark green, navy blues, and mixed overtones. Many also think that pearls are spherical shimmering globes, but the truth is pearls come in many sizes and shapes.

  • Freshwater pearls: they range in size from 4 to 14mm and usually come in white and lavender overtones
  • South Sea pearls: range in size from 8 to 20mm and they come in white, black, golden (the rarest and the most valuable) and silver overtones
  • Akoya pearls: range in size from 2 to 10mm and they come usually in silver and white
  • Tahitian pearls: range in size from 9 to 14mm and they are commonly known as “black pearls” although they feature hues and overtones in aubergine and peacock.

Pearls’ shapes do vary a lot, and before you make a purchase, you should first understand the language. These are the most common pearl shapes:

  • Round
  • Near-round
  • Oval
  • Button
  • Drop
  • Semi-baroque
  • Baroque
  • Circle

The most important thing you need to learn is that you should always do your homework. Read about pearls’ shapes, provenance, types, and colors and decide what type of pearl jewelry you really want to invest in: do you want to buy a classic Liz Taylor white pearls necklace or are you more into a contemporary Akoya white pearls necklace in cubic Zirconia and sterling silver finishing?

What Should You Look at When Buying Pearls?

3_multi strand pearl necklace

You need to first check their quality and then assess their design value. Let’s see the main criteria you need to pay attention to when buying pearl jewelry:

  • Color: the more interesting the color is, the more valuable the pearls are.
  • Size: the larger the pearls are, the more expensive they are; on a secondary note, large pearls are less desirable on earrings, but they make the primary choice in necklaces and rings.
  • Luster: this is a feature representing the sharpness and reflection intensity of the pearl’s surface; you can test the luster of a pearl by looking into it as if you’d look into a mirror – the clearer your reflection is, the more precious the pearl is.
  • Surface: a real pearl’s surface is a bit gritty (in comparison to a fake pearl’s surface which is totally smooth).
  • Shape: near-round pearls are quite common, while drop-shaped (or pear shaped) and baroque (irregular shapes) are rarer and thus more valuable.
  • Similarity: always look closely at a pearl necklace or a pearl jewelry set: the more similar the pearls are in size, shape, luster, color and surface, the more valuable the jewelry piece is.
  • Design: new pearl jewelry designs bring together silver and gold, diamond rondels and brooches, intricate models and innovative combinations; the more upscale the design is, the more valuable the jewelry piece becomes.

Where and How to Buy Pearl Jewelry?

4_ oval pearl pendant in gold finishing

Before signing the check in a jewelry house or filling in your credit card details in an online store, you need to make sure you get what you pay for. There are some specifics you need to consider:

  • The seller has to know everything about pearls, inside and out and to give you correct and valid answers to all your questions; this is why it is important to do some serious research before jumping at the opportunity.
  • Speaking of opportunities, always make an educated purchase and visit various stores, compare prices and don’t fall for “once in a lifetime” occasions before you checked and rechecked the “too good to be true” offer.
  • Find a jewelry store that has a solid reputation, good reviews and offers a solid warranty certificate for your pearls, together with a return policy and a maintenance / replacement policy.
  • Choose a store using pearls’ professional grading systems and transparent certifications of the pearls’ quality and provenance.

Remember that pearls are undying, no matter the fashion trends. They make versatile and elegant jewelry, they can be passed from generation to generation and they bear an immutable intrinsic value. You will cherish them for the rest of your life, so pick them wisely and enjoy their timeless beauty.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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