Pearls are unique among gemstones, as they are organic products of living creatures. In fact, pearls are formed within the soft tissue layer of mollusks, such as oysters and mussels. Therefore, they have different grading standards. In this post I will explain the qualities that determine the overall value of a natural or cultured pearl or a piece of pearl jewelry, so that your next jewelry shopping will be more effective and enjoyable.


When all other value factors are equal, the value of a pearl is determined by its size. Larger pearls are rarer and more valuable. Pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters. The average pearl sold today is between 6.5 mm and 7.0 mm.


Round is the most difficult shape to culture. Therefore, it is the rarest cultured pearl shape. If all other quality factors are identical, it is generally the most valuable. However, well-formed pear, oval, or baroque (irregularly shaped) cultured pearls are also prized by pearl lovers.


Natural and cultured pearls occur in a variety of amazing colors. The law of supply and demand determines the value of certain pearl colors at any given time. If supplies of high-quality pearls showing a preferred color are low, their prices can rise to high levels. Other complex factors, like fashion trends and cultural traditions, can influence color preferences and pearls’ prices.


Luster, which is the measure of quantity and quality of light that is reflected from the surface, or just under the surface of a pearl, is what gives a natural or cultured pearl its unique beauty. Within a pearl type, when other value factors are equal, the higher the luster, the more valuable the pearl. Pearls with excellent luster have reflections that are bright, sharp, and distinct.

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