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Buying Pearls from Shah & Shah
There are seven important features of pearls to consider: size, shape, color, luster, surface quality, nacre thickness, and matching or blending. The Gemological Institute of America offers these definitions:
Pearl size is measured in millimeters. Typically, all other factors being equal, a larger pearl of a certain type is more expensive than a smaller one.
There are three main categories: spherical, symmetrical, and baroque. An example of a symmetrical pearl is an oval, while baroque pearls are irregular in shape.
With cultured pearls, consider body color and, if present, overtone. Body color is the dominant color of the pearl, while overtone refers to one or more translucent colors that overlie the body color, like blush on a woman’s cheek. The third component of some pearls’ color is orient. When present, it looks like a moving iridescence on or just below a pearl’s surface.
This is the intensity of light reflected from a pearl’s surface. In general, more lustrous pearls will have a higher value. GIA uses the terms excellent, good, and fair to describe luster on cultured pearls.
- Surface Quality
This factor looks at the blemishes, or surface irregularities, on a pearl. Typical blemishes include bumps, abrasions, and spots; the visibility of the irregularities will affect the cost. Very few pearls, however, are completely free of blemishes.
- Nacre Quality
Fine nacre quality means that a cultured pearl has a reasonable thickness of nacre around the nucleus as well as a high luster.
This is the uniformity of appearance in strands and multi-pearl pieces of jewelry, and is judged by the consistency of all of the above factors.
Update your pearl strand by adding more pearls, or gemstones, or hidden clasps. Restring your pearls and add unique accessories, such as gold or platinum and diamond rondels and clasps.