You don’t have to know all about pearls to buy pearl jewelry but there are a few pointers to keep in mind.
The value of any pearl is determined by a number of factors. These are color, luster, size, the lack of surface flaws and of course symmetry. Luster is considered the most important of these and a good luster can add to the value of the pearl.
Of course the larger the pearl the better and these obviously cost more as they have taken longer to make by the oyster and are much rarer than the standard pearl.
The shape of the pearl can determine how it is used. Pear shaped pearls tend to be used for pendants and earrings and the round smooth for necklaces where possible although these are the most rare of pearls..
When buying a pearl or pearl jewelery find out if the pearl is a cultivated one. In general, cultivated pearls are less valuable than natural pearls, and imitation pearls are the least expensive. One way that jewelers can determine whether a pearl is cultivated or natural is by x-raying the pearl.
If the grit in the centre of the pearl is a perfect sphere, then the jeweller knows it is cultivated. This is because when the cultivators insert the grit, (usually a polished piece of mussel shell), it is always perfectly round, so as to produce a more expensive, perfectly round pearl. If the centre is not perfectly round, the jeweller recognizes that it is genuine, and gives it a higher value. Imitation pearls are much easier to identify by jewelers. Some imitation pearls are simply made of mother-of-pearl, coral or conch, while others are made from glass and are coated with a solution containing fish scales called essence d’Orient. Although imitation pearls look the part, they do not have the same weight or smoothness as real pearls, and their luster will also dim greatly.
Always get a certificate with the pearl to state its value. This is important not just for insurance purposes or if you decide to sell at sometime in the future but also for any possibility that the description is found to be incorrect and you can then demand a refund.
There is also a unique way of naming pearl necklaces. While most other necklaces are simply referred to by their physical measurement, strings of pearls have their own set of names that characterize the pearls based on where they hang when worn around the neck. A collar will sit directly against the throat and not hang down the neck at all, they are often made up of multiple strands of pearls. Pearl chokers nestle just at the base of the neck. The size called a princess comes down to or just below the collarbone. A matinee of pearls falls just above the breasts. An opera will be long enough to reach the breastbone or sternum of the wearer, and longer still, a pearl rope is any length that falls down farther than an opera.
Necklaces can also be classified as uniform, where all the pearls are the same size, graduated, where the pearls are arranged in size from large in the centre to smaller at the ends, or tin cup, where pearls are generally the same size, but separated by lengths of chain.
Keeping the above in mind and your pearl jewelery will give you a lifetime of pleasure.