What makes a pearl valuable? Pearls have been held in high regard for several Millennium and were only worn by the highest nobility. Today, however, with modern culturing techniques and transportation; pearls are more freely available to the world. Pearls come in many different shapes, sizes, and other variations. At Kyllonen, we have put together a list of 7 different factors that gives value to pearls. Allowing you to make the best decision anytime you decided to buy pearls. The factors all rely on rarity. Pearls which are rarer, command a higher price.
S ize is the first factor to assess, which is the easiest to assess. The larger the pearl the more valuable. Pearls can range from sizes as small as 1mm to the world’s largest pearl which is over 650mm and weighs 34kg (approximately 75lbs). Most pearl jewelry, however, is usually in the range of 3mm to 18mm. The largest which we currently carry at Kyllonen is over 18mm.
There are several different types of pearls, which can come in different sizes. Certain pearl types are larger than others. Akoya tend to be the smallest of pearls which are usually less than 10mm due to the size of the oyster. The largest variety tends to be South Sea Pearls, as the oyster is much larger and can accommodate a larger pearl.
S hape is important to pearls because pearls come in many different shapes. Round is the rarest of the shapes, which is why it fetches top dollar. Different shapes include:
Round, Semi-Round, Button, Drop, Circle, and Baroque
Most cases the more round the pearl, the higher the value. Some exceptions are for interesting or beautifully shaped baroques, which are free formed pearls. Pearl shape of all shapes will be graded seperately.
L uster is the quality that gives pearls their special shiny reflection. The shine is produced by the layers of nacre that are built up in the pearl during their years within the oyster. A more compacted nacre can help acheive greater luster. As a rule of thumb, the better reflection you can see in the pearl, the higher the value. Some of the most beautiful pearls have mirror-like reflections. Avoid buying dull pearls, luster is one of the top factors in valuing pearls as it lends to the beauty of the pearl.
S urface is the top layer of the pearls. Experts examine the surface quality to determine the blemishes on the pearl. No pearl is considered flawless, however top quality loose pearls will not contain flaws visible to the naked eyed. There are many different types of pearl flaws, each effect the pearl differently. Blemishes range from skin imperfections, dents, and pits; Pits being the least acceptable flaw.Strands surfaces are graded as a whole. Loose pearls, on the other hand, are graded individually.
N acre is the layers that are secreted from the oyster that forms around the foreign object inside to form the pearl.
Cultured Sea Pearls have mantle tissue and a nucleus from a donor mollusk inserted inside the oyster to begin the process of the oyster forming the pearl. The thicker the layers of nacre, the greater the luster and the longer you can expect the beauty of the pearl to last. Low quality pearls have thin layers of nacre which affect to the beauty and longevity of the pearl.
Freshwater pearls on the other hand, do not contain nucleus (except for Edison Pearls). As you can see from the photo above, freshwater pearls have no nucleaus.
Certain governing bodies have rules in place on nacre thickness, Black pearls exported from Tahiti must have nacre greater than 0.8mm but are typically over 1mm. Ccertified Akoya Pearls such as Hanadama and Tennyo must have a minimum of 0.4mm nacre thickness and are typically .5mm. Kyllonen only carries the highest quality pearls.With care, your pearls will last generations.
C olor places a more important role for certain pearl types. Some colors produced by mullusks are more rare and desirable than others.
Freshwater pearlscome in multiple different colors from purples, pinks, cremes, to white and often have the same value. Special colors for freshwater pearls include metallic pearls, these pearls show an exceptional level of color and luster.
Japanese Akoya pearls are rarer when there color is natural and unprocessed. White with pink overtones can command premiums due to beauty and popularity. Blue and silver Akoyas will also command higher prices due the limited number which are harvested.
Tahitian Pearls, also known as Black Pearls, come in a vast variety of colors. The most desired and highest valued is Peacock Green. While Silver toned Tahitian pearls sometimes rise in popularity, they are often abundantly available and have the lowest value.
South Sea pearls are most tied to color and value. South Sea White pearls tend to not be affected much by color; however, South Sea Gold has a large price range due to rarity of each color. The darker the shade of gold, the more rare and special the pearl. The darkest gold pearls in the world come from the Philippines, which is the only source of gold pearls Kyllonen carries. Gold pearls range from Champagne colors to Superior Gold.
S carcity is the limited supply of a pearl. Pearls are harvested in seasons but many factors can affect the harvest. In this sense, pearls are similar to commodities. Oysters are living creatures and can die due to harsh elements such as: predators, lack of food, storms and many more. Variations in the harvest can produce very little pearls or pearls of lower quality. This scarcity drives up the value of pearls. Included in scarcity would also be wild pearls found in nature. Wild pearls that formed without any help are extremely rare and have great value.