Amounts or weight of sterling silver used in any one pearl earring can shed a light on the amount being asked, for the item, yet in these hard economic times, "the value for money" is getting the "genuine article" for the smallest amount possible. Hard on makers and designers but great for the consumer. Using less and getting more is the mantra for makers now. Compare the thinness or the thickness of the hook of the earring alone, this could (previously) show immediately the generosity of the maker for their products. A good close up picture for the item says it all. Nothing to hide there. A sterling silver and pearl earring can contain a very thin hook (usually with "imported" items) yet still be sterling silver and still have a high price tag. Yet a designer pearl earring from a small jewellery operator can be far more generous and precious and have much more sterling silver "weight" to their pearl and sterling silver earring. The battle continues for quality over cheap and nasty, yet price seems to be the winner.
The missing ingredient for pearl earring purchasers on line is that it is not tangible, and it must solely rely on images to sell the product. Pearls and indeed all jewellery has always been a "touchy- feely" thing, no more, now there is eBay. When you can see great quality from the outset with heavier weights of silver content in each design, then there you will have a winning combination. Here are examples of designer jewellery pearl earrings with sterling silver (using very generous weights of sterling silver and pearl in their products and are starting at remarkably low prices, as they must compete with the imports and copies.