Types of Pearls and their Value

Posted by JewelryKind

Pearls are lovely gemstones that have been around for centuries. There have always been myths and misconceptions about buying these stones and the way that they are harvested has been an interest to jewelry lovers for many years.

Pearls are graded based on specific criteria and their grade determines their value. Those that receive a lower grade will be lower in cost. Grading takes into consideration the shape, quality, luster and nacre thickness of each stone.

When buying pearls, it is important to note that there are different types. Not all pearls are harvested in salt water. Basically, pearls are formed whenever mollusks produce layers of nacre around an irritant that makes its way inside the mollusks shell. In natural pearls, this irritant can often be another organism that is found in the water. The quality of the nacre that is produced will dictate the quality of the pearl that is formed. The surface should always be free from any marks or inclusions while the shape could actually be round, oval or even misshapen in some instances.

Natural pearls are a bit rare and are the most expensive type. There were many found in the Persian Gulf throughout history but most of those have been harvested today. Even the smallest natural pearls are a bit costly and are found mainly in chokers and other necklaces. There are rings and earrings as well as bracelets that are also crafted from natural pearls and they are typically set in sterling silver or gold.

Cultured pearls are a bit less costly. These are grown in farms that are designed to produce and harvest pearls. Mollusks in the farms are raised until a nucleus can be introduced into their shells which will ultimately produce the pearl. Not all of the mollusks in a farm will produce a pearl and not all pearls produced will offer the highest level of quality. In fact, more than 10,000 pearls could be sorted and many discarded before enough to create a 16 inch necklace are found.

Pearls are not only found in saltwater. Freshwater pearls are very popular and are used to create a number of beautiful jewelry pieces. Freshwater pearls are those that are found in rivers and lakes and are mainly harvested in China. These stones are also white but can be found in a wide range of other colors as well. Their shapes are typically a bit oblong and not nearly as round or as large as saltwater pearls.

Saltwater pearls are typically grown in China and Japan and can range in size from just 2mm to more than 10mm, although larger pearls are very rare. In Tahiti, sizes can range up to 16 mm and colors can range from the common white to blue, purple and even black. Black pearls are a bit rare and are often a bit more expensive than traditional white ones. When buying pearls, it is important to determine if the pearls are saltwater or freshwater or if they are imitation. There are a number of imitation pearls on the market which look just like real pearls but have a friendlier cost.


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