Pearl Grading

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Pearl Luster

The most important indication of a pearl's quality is luster. The luster of a pearl refers to the glowing appearance of its surface, and is judged by its brilliance and ability to reflect light. A pearl with a high luster will be very shiny and show reflections like a mirror, while a pearl with poor luster will appear very milky or chalky.

Luster is determined by the quality of a pearl's nacre – its thickness, translucence, and arrangement of overlapping layers. Factors affecting the quality of the nacre include the cultivation place, the health of the mother mollusk, the length of time spent in the mollusk, pollution and the type of mollusk used. Only strong layers of nacre can produce deep luster.

All Shane Co. pearls are treatment free and purchased directly from pearl producers. While the luster of treated pearls will fade over time, Shane Co. pearls will retain their natural beauty for a lifetime.

Pearl Color

Pearls present a whole palette of colors to choose from. Light colored pearls are produced in shades of white, pink, silver, gold and blue, while dark colored pearls range from peacock green and aubergine purple to all the shades of gray.

Above all, a pearl's color is a question of personal taste. Although some shades are especially rare or popular and therefore highly valued, such as rosy white, silvery white and pale gold, the color of a pearl is certainly not an indication of its quality.

Pearl Shape

The shape of a pearl plays an important role in determining its value; pearls can be divided into four basic shape groups. They are in order of value:

Round to nearly perfectly round.
Slightly round, oval, drop, button and egg.
Not round. Some examples are pear, drop, and button shapes.
Very irregular in shape with a surface that is often very uneven.

Throughout history the round pearl has been considered the most valuable and popular shape. However, some of the world's most famous and valuable pearls are often not symmetrical in shape because the other grading factors are also important.

Shape is a good category to compromise on if you need to cut down on price. In fact, non-traditional shaped pearls are often used to make some of the most interesting jewelry pieces you'll find.

Pearl Size

The size of a pearl is expressed in terms of its diameter, which is measured in millimeters. Size has a significant impact on price. One millimeter difference has been known to raise the price by between 100 and 200 percent.

Surface Quality

The fewer the spots (or blemishes) a pearl has, the higher its value. However, surface characteristics can also be accepted as positive features, like birthmarks to a human being. They may serve as identifying marks that a pearl is yours and not somebody else's, and help prove that it is real and not imitation.

Surface characteristics can add to the uniqueness of each pearl and do not necessarily affect its overall beauty.