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If you’re new to pearls and looking for a pearl necklace, the wide collection of options may seem a bit intimidating at first. There are so many different types, sizes, colors and lengths to choose from. Give me a few minutes of your time and I promise to give you a bit of clarity.
Let's start with grading pearls. You've probably noticed grading scales that appear to be all over the place if you've spent much time perusing stores and other websites. Some companies use letters to grade, while others use numbers, and yet others don't use grades at all. Doesn't seem right, does it? There's a reason for that.
The four C's of diamond grading are probably familiar to you: cut, color, carat weight, and clarity. There are seven value elements in pearl grading. Size, form, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and matching are among them. But there's a snag! There is no industry standard for grading pearls, unlike diamonds.
What does this imply for you personally? Simple. You can't compare store solely on the basis of grade. A pearl necklace graded AAA by one store might only be worth a tenth of what a necklace graded AAA by another is worth. Grading pearls is a subjective process, and each company selling pearls (on the planet) grades them differently.
You can use reputation as a criterion for comparative shopping. When it comes to internet buying, Google is your best friend. You can easily tell if a pearl vendor is known for providing high-quality pearls at a reasonable price and if they stand behind their items. Legitimate retailers will have a lot of information about them available on the internet.
Pearl Types Used In Strands
Let's start with the most common misunderstanding that individuals have when looking for the appropriate pearl necklace. A strand of cultured pearls is what you're looking for. Have faith in me. A strand of real pearls is not what you want. A century ago, pearl farming, or the method of encouraging pearl oysters to produce pearls, supplanted the natural pearl trade. Natural pearls are still available, but a beautiful strand can cost over a million dollars.
Today's cultured pearls come in four primary varieties: akoya pearls, freshwater pearls, Tahitian pearls, and South Sea pearls. Each one has something unique to contribute, and each one can be breathtakingly lovely.
Color, shape, and brilliance are all characteristics of Akoya pearls. The quantity and quality of light reflected from the pearl's surface is referred to as luster. When it comes to choosing an akoya pearl necklace, this is the most significant consideration. It's what gives the pearls their radiance. It's also a telltale sign that the pearls have spent enough time in their mother oyster. Do you recall the bit regarding the reputation of a seller?
Akoya pearl oysters are seeded with a perfect spherical bead and returned to the ocean for 1.5-2 years (ideally). However, many (too many) farmers harvest their crops after just a few months. The pearls may appear comparable at first, but they won't survive more than a few years.
The trade refers to the best akoya pearls as "hanadama." Wait! Does this imply that you can shop for hanadama grade pearls and compare prices? Unfortunately, not much. Even when graded by a laboratory, there is still a broad range of results. Once again, it comes down to reputation.
This aside regarding akoya pearls is worth mentioning. Almost all akoya are perfectly round and white, but there are some that are unique natural-color blues, silver-blues, golds, and baroques. These are considered extremely uncommon and will be difficult to come across in a jewelry store.
7-7.5 mm akoya pearl necklaces are the most popular, with 8-8.5 mm coming in second. I wouldn't recommend going much smaller unless you're buying a strand for a young lady.
Freshwater pearls have been around almost as long as akoya, but despite being more "pearl" than akoya, they have never been considered as precious. What do you mean by that? Traditionally, freshwater pearls have been grown without a bead. They're made entirely of nacre (pearl). Why are they regarded as being less valuable? At any given time, a freshwater shell can produce dozens of pearls. The majority of akoya oysters only produce one or two oysters at a time.
If you've ever seen freshwater pearls in a store, you're probably thinking they're all odd forms and not particularly shiny. This is frequently the case. Because they don't have a bead in the center, they aren't as round as akoya. Fine freshwater pearls, on the other hand, do exist. The best, such as the ones we regard to as in terms of shape, color, and luster, "freshadama" are practically indistinguishable from fine akoya pearls.
Freshwater pearls are a good choice if this is your first strand of pearls or the first strand for someone you're shopping for. They not only have the akoya look at a reduced cost, but they also come in a variety of natural pastel colors. Freshwater pearls are the only ones with those colors (naturally).
Freshwater pearls of high quality are nearly often divided into half-millimeter sizes, which makes a significant difference in price. A strand of 7-8 mm pearls and a strand measuring 7.5-8 mm (our most popular) would be notably larger, shinier, and more round if compared.
Have you visited French Polynesia's Tahiti? If that's the case, I'm sure you'll agree that it's one of the most exotic vacation spots. There are no fewer unique pearls to be found there. Tahitian pearls are commonly referred to as "black pearls," although they actually come in a variety of colors. Dark green is the most popular.
Tahitian pearls hold a special place in my heart. I've traveled to some of French Polynesia's most remote locations throughout the years. I once took a film crew to a pearl farm and shot a 20-minute documentary with them. At the International Family Film Festival, that documentary took first place.
I'm sure you can take 20 minutes to view this if you're thinking about getting a Tahitian pearl necklace. You will know more about Tahitian pearls than 99 percent of GIA graduate jewelers after completing this course.
If you're looking for a South Sea pearl necklace, I'm guessing you've already done some research and maybe even bought some pearls before. South Sea pearls aren't anything I'd recommend for a first strand of pearls. Unless you're the type who starts from the beginning.
The largest and most valuable of all pearls farmed today are South Sea pearls. They're raised in isolated locations of Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and a few other countries. The pearl oyster that produces these gems is the most common type of pearl oyster utilized in pearl farming. It's about the size of a dinner plate in the United States. The pearls are marbles in size.
South Sea pearls are divided into two types: those grown in the silver-lip pearl oyster and those grown in the gold-lip pearl oyster. You guessed correctly. The former produces white and silver South Sea pearls, while the latter produces the ultra-valuable gold South Sea pearls. They create some of the world's most exquisite and costly South Sea pearl necklaces.
These are pearls that make a statement. You're making a statement if you're the one wearing it. You're making a statement if you're the one who gives. It's impossible to go somewhere without being noticed if you're wearing a strand of South Sea pearls.
In almost all cases, pearl necklaces should be braided between each pearl. This is a critical point. The knots safeguard your investment by preventing the pearls from rubbing against one another. Your pearls would not scatter if your necklace were to break. Small, graded strands are the only exception to the knotting rule. Because knots do not look well on these, they are usually simply tied near the clasp.
Although silk is the most popular thread, and many companies use it, synthetic fibers are becoming more popular as they are more durable. Either option is acceptable.
If you're new to pearls, I'm sure this is a question you've been thinking about. What size pearl is best for me/her? What would a 6 mm akoya strand look like next to an 8 mm strand of freshadama? How do they compare to a 10 mm Tahitian strand?
We've been in the pearl business for more than two decades. I can confidently state which sizes are the most popular. These measurements are considered to be safe. They are neither too large nor too little. If you're searching for something more compact, go for it. If you're searching for something a little bigger, go for it.
The most common akoya pearl size is 7-7.5 mm. 8-8.5 mm is a very close second.
Freshwater pearl necklaces with a diameter of 7.5-8 mm are the most popular. 8.5-9 mm is the second most popular size.
Tahitian pearl necklaces have larger pearls by definition. Smaller pearls are found around the clasp while larger pearls are found near the center of the strand. Every year, we import thousands of Tahitian pearls, with 8 to 11 mm pearls accounting for more than 90% of the total. That is significant.
The largest pearls are those from the South Seas. If you're looking for a South Sea pearl necklace, you're probably looking for huge pearls. The most popular and wearable size is between 10 and 14 mm.
If you're thinking of getting a necklace that's smaller or larger than these, keep this fact in mind. The center point between the drill holes is where pearls are measured in millimeters. A few millimeters may appear little, but when measured in terms of volume, they are not.
The length of a pearl necklace is a matter of personal taste. What kind of look do you want to achieve? If you want to wear your pearls more casually, a shorter string is definitely ideal for you. Although this is not a rule, longer strands are considered more formal.
16 and 18 inches are the most popular lengths. Longer strands, such as 35 and 50 inches, are very popular because they may be worn long or doubled.
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