Consider the color, shape, and longevity that you would like to keep and wear the pearls. There are multiple types of pearls available, as well as shapes and colors. All of these factors will contribute directly to the price. If you are looking for a great gift item for example, a freshwater pearl in white with a round shape is a classic gift at an affordable price, but an Akoya pearl set would be an item to last generations with a higher luster. If you are looking for a contemporary look, the baroque pearls would be a great option because of their unique modern shape. Because they form naturally, pearls actually come in a wide range of shapes, and few are exactly perfect in symmetry.
TYPES OF PEARLS
- FRESHWATER PEARLS: Are formed by mollusks in fresh water. These pearls come in a wide range of shapes and colors, and are cultivated in pearl farms all over the world. It usually takes between three and five years to grow a freshwater pearl.
- AKOYA PEARLS: Are grown in a saltwater environment and the word Akoya actually means saltwater in Japanese. Traditionally, Akoya pearls came from Japan, but today these pearls are also grown in China and Vietnam. Because they're formed in cooler water than freshwater pearls, these pearls can take longer to grow, but are often more evenly shaped and lustrous than a freshwater pearl. Because the timeframe and quality are higher, the prices for the pearls are too.
- ROUND: This is the most prized. A very nearly perfectly round pearl is rare, and can be quite expensive.
- DROP: These pearls have a tear-drop shape, and are often found in pendants and earrings.
- BAROQUE: These are freeform, unique shapes that are uneven in places or long, for a very organic feel.
- BUTTON: These pearls are ideal for earrings because they sit comfortably, and have a rounded bottom.
- RONDELLE: These are narrow pearls flattened on the top and bottom that are drilled all the way through and stacked on one another to make a uniform look.
- RINGED: These pearls have rotated while growing and developed a ridge or a ring where they've moved. They may have one ring, or several.
- COIN: These pearls have a flattened shaped that looks like a disk or a coin.
There isn't a uniform grading system for pearls, so a number of systems are used to categorize them. At Bed Bath & Beyond, we guarantee that all pearls sold are of AA quality and higher. Grading is based on 3 factors including the pearl: luster, surface, shape. These factors contribute to the look and feel of the product as well as the price and value of the product. Pearls with high luster, a clean surface, and a perfectly round shape are the most valuable.
- PEARL LUSTER GRADE: measures how mirror-like-or reflective-the pearl is. It includes both how much light the pearl reflects, and how well defined the reflection is.
- PEARL SURFACE GRADE: The pearl's surface grade is determined by the smoothness of the pearl. Divots, dents or scratches impact a pearl's surface grade.
- PEARL SHAPE GRADE: Although pearls grow in many shapes, grading is applied to round pearls.