Considered by many to be the ‘queen of gems,’ pearls have long been one of the most popular stones in the world. The natural, radiant beauty of pearls have made them a timeless classic; no matter the current fashion trends, they never go out of style.
With popularity dating back to 420 BC, pearl necklaces have been highly coveted among royalty and wealthy individuals throughout human history. Part of the reason why they are so well-liked is their versatility; they complement any outfit for any occasion. Another reason is because of their unique origin. Unlike most gemstones, pearls are formed within mollusks such as oysters and mussels when a piece of sand gets inside the shell. The mollusks then secrete a shiny substance called nacre around the object to protect the soft internal surface of the creature. As the grain of sand is coated time and time again, a pearl is formed.
Whether you own pearls or are currently looking for them, there are some things you should know about how they are valued. Read on to see the seven factors that determine how much a pearl is worth!
The first factor in determining a pearls value is how big it is. These gemstones are measured in millimeters, and larger sizes are generally worth more. They range usually range from 3mm to 18mm. Fun fact: the largest pearl in the world is more than 650mm and weighs about 75lbs!
On the face, most pearls look like they are one color. But some have an overtone or secondary color, and some shades are rarer and more desirable than others. Generally, there are four categories of pearl colors:
· Tahitian Pearl Colors: also called Black pearls, these come in a variety of shades. The most valuable of Tahitian Pearls is Peacock Green.
· South Sea Pearl Colors: range from white to gold and some of the rarest pearls are darker shades of gold.
· Akoya Pearl Colors: white with pink overtones. Some are blue and silver and these command higher prices.
· Freshwater Pear Colors: come in multiple shades from purples, pinks, cremes to white.
Most people think of pearls as round, but they actually come in a variety of shapes and the rounder they are, the more valuable they are. Some other shapes include semi-round, button, drop, circle, and baroque.
Luster refers to how shiny the reflection of a pearl is. The shine is the result of the layers of nacre, the fluid produced by the mollusk. The shinier a pearl is, the longer it was contained within an oyster. Generally, pearls with more luster have a higher value.
Pearls with less blemishes on the surface are considered more valuable. Blemishes range from dents, pits, scratches and other imperfections. Interestingly, no pearl is considered flawless.
The thickness and regularity of nacre, the oyster’s liquid secretion, is another factor that determines the value of pearls. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the nacre, the more a pearl is worth.
Because oysters are living creatures and die at unexpectedly high rates from predators, lack of food, and over-harvesting, the supply of certain, natural pearls is the final factor that determines their value. Where, how, and when they were harvested plays a role in the appraisal of pearls. Wild pearls found in nature and those that formed without any help are quite rare and are valued highly.