Buy Wisely your Pearl Jewelry
Whether it is a bride’s wedding dress, a woman’s formal evening dress, a formal blouse, or even a girl’s communion dress, pearls add an aura of sophistication and beauty to any outfit. Their round shape and white or cream color compliment virtually any wardrobe.
But how does one compare the pearl jewelry being offered by different retailers, and ensure you are getting the best value for your money?
It is important that you realize what you are buying, and how retailers grade their pearls, when shopping for jewelry of pearl such as pearl necklaces or pearl bracelets. Without being distracted by deceptive advertising lingo, this will allow you to fairly compare pieces.
You should first realize that virtually today all pearls available on the market are cultured freshwater pearls. Many stores will suffice to say, they are all cultured freshwater pearls and simply advertise “pearl” or “freshwater pearl” or “cultured pearl”. Natural pearls are priced accordingly and are extremely rare (mostly due to pollution). You are advised to assume all pearls are cultured freshwater pearls and buy accordingly, unless you know how to tell the difference. The remainder of this article relates to cultured freshwater pearls.
Luster : This is the brightness, gloss or sheen that you see. With a matte finish, low quality pearls will appear dull. With exceptional pearls having an almost glassy, mirror-like surface, high luster pearls will appear nearly brilliant.
Surface / Nacre : Pearls are made of layers of a substance called Nacre. Inside the shells of various mollusks, pearls are caused by irritants. High quality pearls are virtually all nacre and have a very small irritant (such as a grain of sand). Low quality pearls have a large irritant (such as a chunk of mother-of-pearl) and relatively little nacre. Low quality pearls may also have inclusions or imperfections in the pearl’s surface. No visible inclusions are there in high quality pearls. The seashell pearl necklace attracts the attention of all.
Shape : Pearls are those which are perfectly spherical to the naked eye are most highly priced. Pearls that have a slightly oblong shape (like a football, or an oval) are of average value, and still beautiful on the appropriate piece of jewelry. Pearls that are randomly shaped or having a wavy surface are lower grade, but they can still look beautiful when properly strung or arranged.
Round : Round pearls are the most expensive variety. They are truly spherical and will roll in a straight line. Very few pearls fall into this category, but they often include pearls that are nearly round.
Baroque : These pearls have an irregular shape. Though generally less expensive, some unique-shaped specimens can fetch a higher price than round pearls. Baroque pearls have been made into famous or important jewelry pieces throughout history.
Matching : When shopping for pearl jewelry, two retailers may state they have the same grade pearls. How do you further differentiate them? The jewelry piece that has the best matching should be selected. This means that the pearls used are the entire same grade and visually match each other. Some jewelers do not take the time to properly match the shape, luster and color of pearls used within the same piece of jewelry, and this decreases the relative value.
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