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Pearl Quality

We pride ourselves on offering only high quality, authentic cultured pearl jewelry. The following guide will give you valuable information on the different aspects of pearl quality and grading.

The value and quality of a pearl or strand of pearls is based on several different characteristics.

  • Luster: The reflectivity or shine of the pearl. Low quality pearls appear chalky, whereas high quality pearls seem to glow with mirror-like reflectivity.
  • Surface Quality: The quantity and severity (or lack) of blemishes on the pearl's surface. Even the lowest quality pearls we normally offer (AA+) have very few and insignificant blemishes. We do not sell pearls with heavy blemishing, which would include cracks, grooves, blisters or peeling skins. Blemishes should not be obvious to the naked eye at arm's length.
  • Nacre Thickness: The thickness of the natural coating the pearl's host develops around the implanted nucleus during the culturing process. Pearls with thick nacre have a brighter shine that will last for years. Special and costly methods are required to determine the exact thickness of a pearl's nacre, however thin nacre is easily detectable by the naked eye. Freshwater pearls are effectively 100% nacre as they are implanted with mantle tissue which dissolves/decays during the culturing process and is then likely removed completely when the pearls are drilled.
  • Shape: Pearls come in many shapes, from baroque to perfectly round. Akoya pearls should be perfectly round. All other pearl types have varying shapes.
  • Size: Although irrelevant to pearl quality grading, pearl size affects the value of the pearl and is a factor in determining matching.
  • Matching: How closely multiple pearls match each other for all of the factors listed above.

The following charts detail the different qualities of the four pearl types offered at National Pearl.

 

Akoya Saltwater Pearls
Akoya pearls are known for their perfect roundness, and all of our Akoya jewelry has visually thick nacre and excellent matching. The only differences between our three grades of Akoya pearls are luster and surface quality.

AkoyaAA+AAANational Treasure Collection
LusterGoodVery GoodExcellent
Surface90%+ Clean95%+ Clean99%+ Clean
NacreThick
ShapeRound
MatchingExcellent

Freshwater Pearls
For Freshwater Pearls, the AA+ and AAA grades will refer to the Luster and Surface Quality. Shape will be "Near Round" and Matching will be "Excellent" unless stated otherwise in various items such as drop, button and coin pearls.

FreshwaterAA+AAA
LusterGoodVery Good
Surface90%+ Clean95%+ Clean
Nacre100% Nacre
ShapeNear Round (Unless Stated Otherwise)
MatchingExcellent (Unless Stated Otherwise)

Tahitian Pearls
For Tahitian Pearls, the AA+ and AAA grades will refer to the Luster and Surface Quality. Shape will be "Round" and Matching will be "Excellent" unless stated otherwise in various items such as drop and baroque pearls.

TahitianAA+AAA
LusterGoodVery Good
Surface80%+ Clean95%+ Clean
NacreVery Thick
ShapeRound (Unless Stated Otherwise)
MatchingExcellent (Unless Stated Otherwise)

South Sea Pearls
For South Sea Pearls, the AA+ and AAA grades will refer to the Luster and Surface Quality. Shape will be "Round" and Matching will be "Excellent" unless stated otherwise in various items such as drop and baroque pearls.

South SeaAA+AAA
LusterGoodVery Good
Surface80%+ Clean95%+ Clean
NacreVery Thick
ShapeRound (Unless Stated Otherwise)
MatchingExcellent (Unless Stated Otherwise)