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How To Buy Pearl Jewelry
Pearl jewelry is incredibly versatile. It can be worn with everything from formal eveningwear to a sweater and jeans. As the June birthstone, pearls are a perfect gift for the June bride or the college graduate. Whether an anniversary gift, a birthday gift or for a special sweet sixteen, pearls make a beautiful elegant gift.
Pearls have become more affordable with the development of cultured pearls. Six factors determine a pearl’s value: shape, luster, surface texture, nacre thickness, color and size. Understanding each of these features and how they affect the price of a pearl will help you buy the pearl jewelry that is right for you.
Luster describes a pearl’s sheen, how the light plays off of the layer of nacre. Nacre that is nearly transparent will give a deeper luster and a higher reflection. High quality pearls have an even reflection, with a warm radiance or glow. Pearls with a dull sheen are of lower quality. Luster can reflect the origin of a pearl. South Sea and Tahitian pearls tend to have a more diffused and softer reflection. Akoya pearls typically have a luster that is higher, making them more expensive than the South Sea and Tahitian pearl.
The reflection from the surface of the pearl determines its color. The reflected light that comes from deep within the pearl gives the pearl an inner color, an overtone. White pearls that have a pink or silver overtone are the most valuable. With dark pearls, the most valuable color is black with a blue or green overtone. It is very important to check the color and size of the pearls in a piece of jewelry. Having pearls that are matched in both size and color will make the piece more valuable than jewelry with mismatched pearls.
A smooth surface is found in high quality pearls, no imperfections in the surface or color. Pearls of lower quality might be nearly round rather than perfectly round, or have imperfections in the surface such as pits or wrinkles.
A typical pearl necklace will be have its larger pearls strung in the center, with the pearls getting smaller as they approach the clasp. A more valuable necklace will have pearls that all of the same size. Pearls that are larger than 9 mm are rare and are very expensive and are used to make a dramatic effect. A classic pearl necklace is usually 17 to 19 inches long, a perfect length that can be worn with many types of clothing, from that evening dress to that sweater.
Pearls are typically assigned one of four grades: AAA+, AAA, AA, A. When you are buying pearl jewelry, ask about the quality of the pearl’s features, how it has been graded and what the grading is. By knowing how pearls are valued, you can be confident that you are getting your money’s worth when buying pearl jewelry.
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