The key to being able to purchase good high quality pearls is the ability to recognize aspects of quality in pearls as well as being able to tell fakes and cultured pearls apart from the real naturally created and harvested piece. Apart from this there are several additional points on how to purchase a quality pearl including, the outlet that you intent to purchase your pearl from.
Firstly, when looking for your pearl you must consider what type of pearl you are looking to buy. Cultured pearls are generally much higher in quality than natural pearls. This is mainly down to huge advancements in the production and manufacturing process. Despite their high quality they are often found in costume jewelry and hold no real value when compared to natural pearls. Natural pearls unlike their cultured counterparts are incredibly difficult to find in stores and are much more expensive than cultured pearls, but in comparison they will hold their value.
Once you have decided on the type of pearl that you are looking to buy, there are a few important factors in choosing a high quality example. If you are looking to purchase a natural pearl you should inspect the size and shape of the pearl. A larger pearl will be much more expensive, and also a rounder more sphere-like pearl will be a highly prized example. It is important to inspect the surface of the pearl as good examples will have minimal surface damage such as nicks, cracks, pitting or discoloration. Whilst you are looking at the surface of the pearl be sure to inspect the ‘over tone’. This is a tint secondary to the main color of the pearl, pinkish overtones will occur in high quality pearls, with green or blue tints in the lower quality examples.
The pearls ‘orient’ is another thing to look out for, high class pearls will have a flurry of iridescent rainbow colors. Be careful to avoid pearls that resemble dull, cloudy white beads and look for a more lustrous pearl with a good contrast between light and dark areas.
However, some may opt to buy cultured pearls as although they are less expensive they have many of the qualities that the most expensive and highly prized natural examples retain. When buying a cultured pearl you should consider the size, roundness, color, nacre thickness and luster. High quality cultured pearls often come from China, the largest producer of cultured pearls in the world. The highest quality cultured pearls are round with a perfect surface, with white or pink over tones being the most desirable. However, the most desirable dark colored pearls are black with blue or green overtones.
Akoya pearls are widely recognized as having the sharpest and most brilliant luster when compared to South Sea or Tahitan pearls. The highest quality cultured pearls with the best luster will have a deep even reflection with an elegant radiance, with a nearly transparent nacre giving the best quality luster.
When you decide to buy a pearl, be it cultured or natural, it is important to look out for these aspects so you can obtain the highest quality example. The most important aspects are common to cultured and natural pearls, the luster, the over tone and the surface quality and roundness.