Pearl Grading Determines Quality
The value of pearls varies significantly based on the grade of five characteristics of the pearl– lustre, color, shape, surface and size. Gem quality pearls must be sorted and graded to evaluate the quality and value of the pearl. Since there are not two pearls that are exactly the same, sorting pearls is a very long and difficult process. Each pearl must be sorted by size, shape, color and lustre, so it is handled hundreds of times.
A Pearl’s Lustre
The most important indication of a pearl’s quality is lustre. The lustre of a pearl refers to the glowing appearance of its surface, and is judged by it brilliance and ability to reflect light. A pearl with a high lustre will be very shiny and show reflections like a mirror while a pearl with poor lustre will appear very milky or chalky. Lustre is determined by the quality of a pearl’s nacre, its transparency, smoothness and overall thickness. Factors affecting the quality of the nacre include the cultivation place, the health of the mother oyster, the length of time spent in the oyster, pollution and the type of oyster used. Only strong layers of nacre can produce deep lustre.
A Pearl’s Color
Pearls present a whole palette of colors to choose from. Light colored pearls are produced in shades of white, pink, silver, gold and blue, while dark colored pearls range from peacock green, aubergine purple, and the newer rich chocolates to all the shades of grey. Above all, a pearl’s color is a question of personal taste. Some colors look better on certain skin tones. Although some shades are especially rare or popular and therefore highly valued, such as rosy white, silvery white and pale gold, the color of a pearl is certainly not an indication of its quality.
A Pearl’s Shape
The shape of a pearl plays a major role in determining its value. Pearls can be divided into four basic groups of shape; round, off-round, semi-baroque and baroque. Round is the most valuable and they decrease in value as they become less round. A baroque pearl is very irregular in shape with a surface that is often very uneven.
A Pearl’s Surface
The more flawless the pearl, the higher the value. However, since pearls are created in the ocean by a wild oyster and nature almost always leaves its mark, it is extremely rare to find a perfect pearl. Flaws can also be positive feature because they add character and prove that it is not imitation. Many people view these markings as unique and individualized characteristics.
A Pearl’s Size
The size of the pearl is important because larger pearls, just like diamonds, are harder to find. Size will have a significant impact on price. The size of a pearl is expressed in terms of its diameter, which is measured in millimeters, and one millimeter difference in size has been known to raise a price by up to 200 percent!