Pearl Grading

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Pearl Grading

There is no standard classification of pearls as there is with diamonds.  However, pearls are generally classified according to one of two grading systems.  The first, A-D, is the most popular with the highest grade being A+; a pearl with highest luster, deepest orient, perfectly round, and minimal to no blemishes covering less than 10% of the pearl surface.  This is the grading system used by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and G.I.E Perles de Tahiti (GIE PdT).  The second system, AAA, AA+, AA, A, B, C, D, is a system used by farmers and vendors in an attempt to further seperate the A+ grade in the GIA, GIE PdT system.  There is a third system that is widely used and meant to parallel the A-D system; AAA, AA+, AA, A.  In this system, A is paralleled by grade AAA and D is paralleled by grade A. 

For purposes of this guide, only the first two classifications will be considered.  For a definition and understanding of luster and orient, please refer to "Pearls 101".

  1. GIA/GIE PdT A+; AAA: Highest luster; Clean, smooth surface; Perfectly round shape; Mirror reflection; Highest orient; Deep color; Perfectly matched if paired.
  2.                  A+; AA+: Highest luster; Minimal blemishes covering less than 10% of the pearl surface; Perfectly round shape; Mirror reflection; Highest orient; Deep color; Perfectly matched if paired.
  3.                 A+/AA: Excellent luster; Minimal to no blemishes covering less than 10% of the pearl surface; Perfectly round shape; Mirror reflection; Very high orient; Deep color; Perfectly matched if paired.
  4.                 A+/A+: Excellent luster; Blemishes cover less than 10% of the pearl surface; Perfectly round shape; Mirror reflection; Very high orient; Deep color; Perfectly matched if paired.
  5.                 A/A: Excellent luster; Blemishes cover less than 10% of the pearl surface; Round shape; Excellent reflection; High orient; Deep color; Excellent matching if paired.
  6.                 B/B: High luster; Blemishes cover less than 33% of the pearl surface; Round shape; Good reflection; Good orient; Good color; Well matched if paired.
  7.                 C/C: Moderate luster; Blemishes cover less than 66% of the pearl surface; Near round shape; Moderate reflection; Moderate orient; Moderate color; Moderate matching if paired.
  8.                 D/D: Poor luster; Blemished surface; Off round; Dull reflection; Poor orient; Poor color; Poor matching if paired.

I hope you have found this useful, informative, and help to better understand how pearls are graded.  If you have, please vote yes.  As always, if you have anything to add or some constructive criticism, contact me.  Aloha and ahui hou!

Jose 

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