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Pearl Quality Factors

The value of pearls is affected by a number of different factors, including lustre, surface (quality), shape, colour, size and matching. Unlike diamonds, there is no universal grading system for pearls.

Lustre

A pearl’s surface lustre is a measure of its brilliance and reflectivity, reflecting how “shiny” or “dull” a pearl is. The lustre is influenced by the thickness and quality of the nacre. Typically, the thicker the nacre, the greater the lustre.

Surface

Surface blemishes play an important role in the valuation of pearls. Generally speaking, the fewer surface blemishes on a pearl, the higher the value. Blemishes are visible bumps, marks, imperfections or small indentations on the pearl’s surface, which give each pearl a unique “fingerprint” or identifying factor.

Shape

Pearls come in a wide variety of shapes but they are divided into three broad categories:

Spherical shapes are perfectly round or nearly round. They are the “classic” pearl shape.

Symmetrical shapes are balanced and regular.

Baroque shapes are irregular or abstract and are non-symmetrical in nature.

Colour

A pearl’s colour is described as a combination of the body colour and the overtone. Some pearls also show the iridescent colour phenomenon known as “orient”, which refers to the shimmering, iridescent colours that appear to move and glitter when the pearl is turned.

Size

Typically, a pearl's value depends upon its size. The larger the size of the pearl, the greater its value. Large pearls not only require larger molluscs to produce them, but they also require much more time to develop inside the mollusc, depending on the size of the nucleus.

Matching

No two pearls are exactly alike because they are naturally formed. Pearls must be carefully sorted by colour, size and shape when used in jewellery. When using more than one pearl in a jewellery design, they are matched precisely to ensure symmetry.

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Symbolism

Pearls have been coveted since their discovery. Pearls are traditionally associated with the representation of love, happiness and success, and are frequently worn by brides and gifted to new mothers. The timelessness and elegance of pearls mean that they have always been a source of fascination, adorning famous figures throughout history, from Cleopatra to the classic movie stars of the 1950s and even modern-day royalty.

Today, pearls are more popular than ever due to their classic appeal and how they can be transformed by skilled craftspeople into innovative and contemporary jewellery pieces. Pandora selects only the very highest quality of freshwater cultured pearls and transforms them into innovative jewellery that pay tribute to their unique beauty.

Pearl shapes

Learn more about other stone assortments