How to Determine Pearl Quality?


If you have an eye for detail, you'll be able to tell the difference between a high-quality pearl and a low-quality one with just a few minutes of inspection. In this article, we'll show you how to tell the difference between good or bad quality pearls. Follow these steps below to determine if that pearl strand is worth buying.


1. Select Round Pearls


This is the most important step. A perfectly round pearl doesn't mean that it's high-quality, but you can determine if they are low-quality by looking at their surface. If you see bumps, bumps and more bumps...this means they are low-quality pearls.

A perfectly round strand of natural pearls is more valuable because it's rare, so try to select pearls that are as close to perfectly round throughout the strand.


2. Check for Surface Imperfections


The next thing I do is look for surface blemishes. All-natural pearls have flaws regardless of the size or how subtle they are. Instead of looking for a completely blemish-free pearl, look for pearls with a minimum amount of blemishes.

Again, all-natural pearls have bumps because of their organic origin. But if you notice large bumps, pits or any other imperfection on the surface of your pearl strand then it's time to move on because these are not high-quality pearls.


3. Select Pearls with Good Luster and Iridescence


The best way to determine if pearls have a good lustre is by viewing them under the light. Look for evenly distributed colors that are bright, yet subtle in appearance. If your pearls appear dull or lack color, then they are not worth buying. A good strand of cultured pearls has some iridescence, which is a rainbow effect that is visible from different angles.

Another way to test luster is by using the water test. Place your pearl strand in a bowl of room-temperature water and see how it appears under different types of lighting. The more reflective the surface, the better the luster.

  • Excellent – Reflections appear bright and sharp
  • Very Good – Reflections appear bright and near sharp
  • Good – Reflections are bright but not sharp, and slightly hazy around the edges
  • Fair – Reflections are weak and blurred
  • Poor – Reflections are dim and diffused



4. Check the Nacre Thickness


The thicker the nacre, the higher-quality they are. A thick nacre guarantees a pearl with good luster and color. However, you can't determine the thickness just by looking at them. You need to actually touch and feel the pearls in order to accurately determine their nacre thickness.

Nacre is a pearl's protective layer found on the surface of their shell (or mother-of-pearl). It acts like an armor that protects it from scratches and the environment. The thickness of the nacre is directly related to pearl quality, so if you can feel it with your fingers then that means they are high-quality pearls.

Use a needle, a toothpick or a pin to gently scrape the surface of your pearls. If you see no marks on the surface, then that means it's high-quality nacre and should have a good luster.


5. Check the Color of Pearls


As the saying goes, you get what you pay for when it comes to pearls. A strand of natural-colored cultured pearls is more expensive than dyed or bleached ones because it takes special care and feeding to develop a nice color. A bright white pearl strand that has no undertones signifies a strand of bleached pearls. Pearls with a more natural color means are usually cultured pearls.

The value of different pearl colors depends upon the law of supply and demand. If high-quality pearls in a certain hue are available in limited quantities, their prices rise to extremely high levels. Color preferences are also influenced by various other factors, such as fashion trends and cultural norms.


Final Thoughts


In conclusion, there are 5 different factors that contribute to the value of pearls. All these factors work together in order to determine the quality of cultured pearls, so it's important that you keep them all in mind while shopping.

Now go ahead and try out these tips at your next pearl shopping trip. You'll be able to tell whether or not you're dealing with a high-quality pearl, without having to consult a gemologist.