If you want to know how to buy pearls, and buy pearls I mean good quality ones and not pretend or artificial, then it is a good idea to understand a bit about pearls and where they come from.
All pearls, whether natural or cultivated, all come from shells mollusks such as oysters for example. Natural pearls originally when a foreign body enters the shell and the oyster, in an effort to isolate it from itself, covers it with a substance called nacre. Once it starts it just continues until a very large covering is produced in layers. This is the natural pearl.
Producers of cultivated pearls take advantage of this tendency by the oyster by inserting a foreign body which the oyster dutifully covers for them. This is usually a round and obvious artificial piece of material or mineral and one can see then, by checking the inside (holding the pearl up to a strong light can help here) to see what sort of foreign body is inside the pearl.
The advent of cultivated pearls has made it easier for more people to own pearls as it has brought the price of pearls down to a more acceptable level for most people. You can buy a good quality pearl now for a few hundred dollars or even less as a result.
Cultivated pearls are also more round whereas natural pearls can be almost any shape at all.
Some pearl produces introduce colors into the oyster to result in pink pearls and other hues also. Natural pearls are white or cream and not tinted at all.
Browsing around pearl jewelers is a good way to start looking for a pearl. Having in mind what you want by way of pearl jewelery. Is it a ring, a pearl necklace or perhaps a pair of pearl earrings. Have also in mind the sort of money you want to spend. It is a good idea to spend at the top of your budget without going over the top. Having a good idea of what you want and how much you are prepared to spend means that you will be buying what you want and not what the salesperson wants to sell you. These can be totally different things.
There is no reason why you cannot bargain also when you find what you are looking for. These days many dealers are prepared to bargain to get that sale. Do not worry, there is a large margin or mark up with pearls retail so there is plenty of leeway for the dealer to give a good discount and still make a tidy profit. I have bargained with dealers and gotten 20 percent discount off a pearl so that gives you some idea of what is available in terms of savings.
Auction sites can be good places to buy pearls but do ensure that you are buying from a reputable dealer. You do not want to pay a high price for what might eventually be a piece of plastic and the dealer vanished. Some due diligence is worth the effort when it comes to buying pearls online. Who is the dealer? Are they contactable? Do they have a postal address and a valid email to which someone responds? All these points are important. Is there a returns policy? What are the terms and conditions.
All these points are important if you want to know how to buy pearls and, properly applied, they can save a lot of money and heartache.