Pearls are classic—they add elegance to a casual outfit but also go well with eveningwear. Below are some practical tips to help you in your search for that timeless strand of pearls. Part 2 will cover some helpful pearl definitions that might come up.
Pearls are no longer confined to that simple strand of white seapearls anymore (though that is what we’ll be talking about today). I have dozens of different freshwater pearl-mixes in my collection—a long strand of white pearls, tiny purple pearls mixed with amethysts, chunky brown pearls wrapped with tiger’s eye.
Jewelry was Imports Oriental’s first product line and although we no longer retail jewelry (wholesale orders only), I still love designing jewelry, finding new pearl-stone combinations, and finding great bargains to offer.
Today though, we’re talking about picking out that classic set of seapearls (the same guidelines are followed when picking out a classic strand of freshwater pearls, too).
Here are 4 things that you want to look for:
1. Surface – Is the surface clean and smooth?
The cleaner the surface of your pearls the better. Run your (clean) fingertips over every pearl to feel for grainy particles or imperfections.
2. Luster – Can you see your reflection in the pearls?
One trick I learned in shopping for pearls was: how clear do I see my reflection in these pearls? If I can see myself down to the mole on my cheek—well, that’s a pretty clear indication that these are good pearls. If the reflection is poor or murky, the pearls aren’t very good ones.
3. Size – Like diamonds, yes, size matters.
Pearls are measured in millimeters. For freshwater pearls, pearls within the same strand vary by one full millimeter (so sizes are typically stated as 7-8mm or 8-9mm, etc). Seapearls are only allowed a variation of half a millimeter, so seapearl sizes are stated as 7.5-8mm, 8-8.5mm, etc.
To state the obvious, bigger pearls (so long as the surface, luster and roundness are also good) are of greater value.
4. Roundness – Like babies, the rounder the better.
The rounder the pearl the more perfect it is. One way to check the roundness of your pearls: take the strand and roll them on a hard surface like a table. Do this gently (you don’t want to scratch them!), resting your fingers on top of the pearls. You should be able to feel the pearls roll easily.
However, pearl buyers like yourself will often sacrifice roundness for higher luster or greater size, as it is an easier way to increase the perceived value of the pearls. Other people will not usually notice if your pearls are perfectly round or not.