Pearl Grading

Grading Systems

There are several different standards for grading systems that are used throughout the world when iit comes to pearl grading. Unfortunately, there is not a universal standard, but we can help make like of what each of these standards represents.

Systems include Japanese Grading (Mikimoto Grading), Tahitian Grading System, Chinese Grading System and Kyllonen Grading System. Each system uses the same basic standards but tends to use different terminology. We will unravel the mystery of pearl grading. You can also see what factors gives pearls there values.

The pearl grading process is long and tedious. Abiding by strict quality controls results in quality and trust. Holding to these standards is what sets apart the finest quality pearls and pearl companies.

Pearls are sorted by color, shape, size, luster, and blemish. The finest pearls are selected for loose pearl sales, Others are sorted and used for Pearl strands. Strands and loose pearls are generally graded on slightly different scales. Loose pearl have tighter restrictions compared to pearl strands.

Kyllonen uses the highest standards and only accept and sells the very best available. The difference from our competitors is undeniable. 

Japanese Grading System (Akoya Pearls)

The Japanese Standard Grading system uses a A-AAA system, plus special grades of tennyo and hanadama. The system was orginally created by Mikimoto. This system is the basis of grading for all pearl grading systems; however, it is important to realize that not every pearl companies AAA is equal to other companies AAA. Tennyo and Hanadama grades require a minimum of 0.4mm nacre thickness.The higher the standards of the company the better the quality under each category.

Special Grades

Tennyo

"Goddess"

Tennyo is the highest available grade for Japanese Akoya pearls.The Tennyo grade is acheived by recieving 90 out of 100 points on the PSL system. This grade heavily weighted on Luster and orient. Which gives the pearl its beauty.

Generally, the tennyo grade is used for pearl strands or pearl earrings.

Hanadama

"Flower Pearl"

Hanadama is the 2nd highest available grade for Japanese Akoya pearls based on the  PSL system. The Grade was originally the highest grade available. Tennyo was created to further seperate the best pearls. 

Generally, the hanadama grade is used for pearl strands or pearl earrings.

Standard Grades

AAA

Akoya Pearls

AAA is the highest of the standard loose akoya pearl grades that is not accompanied by a Certificate. This represents less than 3% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  95% blemish free
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round

AA+

Akoya Pearls

AA+ is the 2nd highest of the standard loose pearl grades that is not accompanied by a Certificate. This represents less than 10% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  90% blemish free
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round

AA

Akoya Pearls

AA is a standard pearl available at many common retail stores. This represents around 20% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  80% blemish free
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round

A

Akoya Pearls

A is the lowest grade for loose akoya pearls. This represents around 50% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  70% blemish free
  • Luster:    Fair to Good
  • Shape:    Round

Tahitian Grading System

The Tahitian Standard Grading System was first introduced by the Tahitian government in order to regulate the quality and reputation of the Tahitian Black Pearl. Pearls exported from Tahiti undergo inspection to assure proper nacre thickness and overall pearl quality. There is still some ambiguity in surface quality, which is common throughout other pearl grading systems.

Special Grade

Gem Grade

Tahitian Pearls

Gem Grade Tahitian Black Pearls are special pearls which display the highest qualities for each factor. These pearls represent less than 3% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  95% blemish free
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round
  • Color:      High Saturation

Standard GradesText

A

Tahitian Pearls

A is the top standard quality available for Tahitian Black Pearls. This represents less than 5% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  90% blemish free
  • Luster:    Very Good to Excellent
  • Shape:    Round

A/B

Tahitian Pearls

A/B Tahitian Black Pearls represents around the top 10% of the pearl harvest. These pearls usually show luster similar to A pearls but slightly more surface blemish.

  • Surface:  80% blemish free
  • Luster:    Very Good to Excellent
  • Shape:    Round

B

Tahitian Pearls

B Tahitian Black Pearls represent the top 20% of the pearl harvest and show great beauty with some small blemishes.

  • Surface:  70% blemish free
  • Luster:    Good to Very Good
  • Shape:    Round

C

Tahitian Pearls

C grade Tahitian Black Pearls display less luster and have more surface flaw than the higher grades. These pearls represent 30% of the harvest.

  • Surface:  60% blemish free
  • Luster:    Fair to Good
  • Shape:    Round

D

Akoya Pearls

D is a commercial grade for loose Tahitian Pearls and are not exported from Tahiti. This represents over 30% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  Over 60% blemished 
  • Luster:    Fair
  • Shape:    Round

Chinese Standard Grading System

The Chinese Standard Grading System has to largest ambiguity amongst all of the grading systems used for pearls. This is due to a lack overall market leader or government entity taking the reigns on the grading forefront. Pearl Grades in China rstarted using the AAA system.

Overtime chinese sellers aimed to out do each other and started claiming 4A, 5A and some even say 6A. This led to confusing in the market. The largest pearl companies in China now use a 5A system as standard. 5A representing a Gem Grade and 4A representing a AAA in the Japanese System.

Standard GradesText

5A

Freshwater Pearls

AAAAA is the highest grade in the Chinese Standard Grading System and is considered a special grade by many Non-Chinese pearl companies. These pearls look similar to akoya pearls! These pearls are less than 1% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  95% blemish free
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round to Near Round

4A1

Freshwater Pearls

AAAA freshwater pearls are equal to AAA pearls used by Japanese Grading Standards. This represents less than 3% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  90% blemish free
  • Luster:    Very Good 
  • Shape:    Round to Near Round

4A2

Freshwater Pearls

AAAA2 is equal to AA+ by Japanese Grading Standards.. This represents less than 5% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  80% blemish free
  • Luster:  Very Good
  • Shape:    Near Round

3A1

Freshwater Pearls

AAA is equal to AA by Japanese Grading Standards. This represents less than 10% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  80% blemish free
  • Luster:    Good
  • Shape:    Near Round

3A2

Freshwater Pearls

AAA2 is equal to A by the Japanese Grading Standard. This represents less than 20% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  70% blemish free
  • Luster:    Fair to Good
  • Shape:    Near Round to Off Round

Commerical Grade

Freshwater Pearls

This is the lowest grade of freshwater pearls and represents over 60% of the pearl harvest.

  • Surface:  Less than 70% blemish free
  • Luster:    Poor
  • Shape:    Round

The Kyllonen Grading System

The Kyllonen Grading System was developed to remove the ambiguity from each fo the grading systems. Many systems are hard to understand as they use percentages and are hard to compare between different pearl sellers.

Kyllonen also seperates the grading between loose pearls and strands. Loose pearls are graded by individual beauty, where as strands are graded on overall beauty and matching.

Kyllonen uses the same pearl grading system for each type of pearl to keep consistence and avoid confusion between gradings. This makes it easy for customers to understand exactly what they are purchasing. Kyllonen uses the highest quality standards to ensure the most beautiful pearls in the world.

Kyllonen Pearl Strand Gradingext

Heirloom Quality

Pearl Strand

Heirloom Pearl Strands are composed from loose pearls making them the finest available pearls on the market. Each pearl is handselected from Gem Quality loose pearls. These pearls are the best of the best.

  • Surface:    100% blemish free to the naked eye
  • Luster:      Excellent
  • Shape:      Round
  • Color:        High Saturation or Orient
  • Matching: Excellent

Gem Quality

 Pearl Strand

Gem Quality Strands are some fo the finest pearls available. Tennyo Strands fall under this category. These pearl strands exibit virtually no flaw and do not allow for deep flaw inclusions. 

  • Surface:     98% blemish free
  • Luster:       Excellent
  • Shape:       Round (Freshwater Round to Near Round)
  • Color:         High Saturation or Orient 
  • Matching:  Excellent

AAA

Pearl Strand

AAA pearls are wonderful pearls better than the majority of all pearls on the market. Pearls receiving a AAA grade 

  • Surface:     95 to 98% blemish free
  • Luster:       Very Good to Excellent
  • Shape:       Round (Freshwater Round to Near Round)
  • Matching:  Excellent

AA+

Pearl Strand

AA+ is the lowest quality carried by Kyllonen, however, these pearls are beautiful and look flawless until closer inspection. 

  • Surface:     90 to 95% blemish free
  • Luster:       Very Good to Excellent
  • Shape:       Round Freshwater Round to Near Round)
  • Matching:  Excellent

Kyllonen Loose Pearl Gradingext

Gem

Loose Pearls

These are the best pearls in the world. They display the best luster with mirror like reflections. Gem pearls. Show rich color or orient These pearls set on jewelry will show no flaws or blemishes. This Category is generally not used for South Sea White or Gold Pearls.

  • Surface:  No visible blemish
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round
  • Color:      High Saturation or Orient

Near Gem

Loose Pearls

Near Gem exhibits all the qualities of Gem quality with strong luster and color; however, near gem may show some slight flaw visible when set on jewelry. This Category is generally not used for South Sea White or Gold Pearls.

  • Surface:  1 or more visible blemishes
  • Luster:    Excellent
  • Shape:    Round
  • Color:      High Saturation or Orient

AAA

Loose Pearls

AAA  grade pearls exibit all of the qualities of Gem Grade pearls but lack deep saturation or orient. This is the highest grade available for South Sea White and Gold Pearls.

  • Surface:  No visible Blemish
  • Luster:    Very Good to Excellent
  • Shape:    Round

AA+

Loose Pearls

AA+ grade pearls are excellent pearls that display great beauty; however, these pearls are the lowest standard carried by Kyllonen. These pearls will appear to be nearly flawless when set on jewelry; with only close inspection revealling any blemish.

  • Surface:  1 or more visible blemishes
  • Luster:    Very Good to Excellent
  • Shape:    Round
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