6 things you should know before buying pearl jewellery | First State Auctions

6 things you should know before buying pearl jewellery

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Graceful, elegant and eternally sophisticated pearl jewellery is perfect for adding a distinctly feminine edge to any look. Often associated with love, pearl jewellery evokes charm and signifies class, wealth and luxury.



A cultured pearl is created by inserting a bead into the bed of soft tissue inside the oyster. Over a period of years, it develops layers of nacre (a kind of inner shell) within the oyster. The thickness and quality of the nacre dictates the shape and symmetry of the pearl. The more regular and round the pearl is, the greater its value. This said, the beauty of pearls lies in their uniqueness. Pearls come in a wide range of shapes from baroque to round, drop, button, circled, keshi and more. Each pearl carries its own charm, its shape as individual as the person who wears it. In our auctions you'll usually find a range of shapes to suit different tastes (and budgets). After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


Pearl shapes and sizes 2  



Pearls come in a variety of natural colours associated with different regions, from black (Tahitian) to golden (the Philippines/Indonesia) and white (most famously Australia). Unbeknownst to many consumers, South Sea pearls can also be dyed. Ari warns against purchasing such strands. South Sea pearls are sometimes dyed to enhance their colour, he says. This is something to look out for when you are buying pearl jewellery. At First State Auctions we do not sell any dyed pearls. A strand that has been commercially dyed is greatly reduced in value. Within each colour band, pearls also exhibit a graduation of hues. For example, within the white spectrum you'll find pearls that are ivory, silver, grey, blue and pink in hue.  


Pearl shapes and sizes 1



Over the years, as the pearl is formed, imperfections or blemishes sometimes occur at the surface of the pearl. These birthmarks are like kisses from nature. They can manifest as a kind of patina, slight pitting or other such things. Pearls with a smooth surface and minimal imperfections are more valuable.


Pearl surfaces


Pearls typically range in size from 9-20mm in diameter. South Sea pearls are the largest in the spectrum as the oyster is the largest species capable of producing pearls. The value of the pearl exponentially increases with the size. Autore says the largest gem pearl that they have cultured was 22.8mm, truly majestic. Pearls of this size are extremely rare, especially if they also demonstrate high lustre and a smooth surface. For this reason, piecing together a set of similar-sized, fine quality pearls to make a strand can takes years.

Pearl sizes


Last but not least is lustre. Lustre is where the magic lies. Like the fire of a diamond, a pearl's lustre or shine has the power to mask other imperfections. The lustre is related to the quality and thickness of the nacre . it endows the pearl with that almost unearthly radiance.  Ari says, "In my opinion lustre is THE most important characteristic to consider when you're buying pearls". Preferences in shape, size, colour seem more personal, but lustre, as they say, lustre is the soul of the pearl. It's not always easy for the layperson to decipher which strand has a superior lustre. For this reason, we provide independent certifications for all pearl’s in our auctions that details this information for you. These can guide you in your purchase to ensure you get the best value for your money. Balancing your wants with your budget can be difficult (okay, sometimes it's just downright unpleasant!). But whether you're looking to purchase for investment or for personal enjoyment, the auctions allow you to purchase fine quality pearls and enjoy BIG savings. In this case less is more. I'm sure Coco Chanel would agree.


Lustre of pearls





Posted by Ari Taibel