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The Jewelry Hut
Cultured Pearls Buying Guides

Investing in Pearl Jewelry is like Investing in Anything!
First Rule: Buy Low.
Fine Cultured Pearl Jewelry at Affordable Prices.

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  • Natural Pearl
    Let’s start with talking about natural, cultured, and imitation pearls.  There is a big price differences! The most expensive kind of pearl is natural pearls. Today, they almost do not exist anymore. A natural pearl form when a little grain of sand or other little irritating thing, almost likely a parasite of some kind, in an oyster or mussel is gradually covered with layers of nacre, the stuff that coats an oyster’s shell.  After years and years of building up, a large pearl forms around the scratchy intruder. These pearls can be round, but are usually in random shapes, since they form so gradually.
  • Cultured Pearl
    In the 1920s, a Japanese man called Mikimoto finally succeeded in forcing an oyster to produce a pearl.  In this big breakthrough, a bead made of shell is injected into the oyster with a little bit of oyster tissue. Because the bead is round and relatively large, it gives the pearl a big head start on forming a round pearl.  Thanks to culturing, pearls are now readily available and usually round. Today, virtually all of the genuine pearls in the market are cultured, including Japanese Akoya, the classic white pearls, Tahitain, South Sea, and Chinese Fresh Water Pearls. These are jewelry store pearls.  Fresh Water Pearls are the least expensive, then Akoya, Tahitian, And South Sea the most expensive. The bigger the pearl, the higher the cost.
  • Imitation Pearl
    Basically, these are beads dyed with lacquer.  Now, how can you tell the difference between natural, cultured, and imitation pearl? Natural pearls are basic hard to find or do not exist. If you happen to find one, make sure there is an independent laboratory report shown with the pearl.  It is very simple process, the lab take an X-ray image of the pearl; and if there is a bead inside the pearl, then it is a cultured pearl.
    To tell the difference between a genuine pearl that is formed in a shell and an imitation, just gently rub the pearl against the edge of your teeth.  Do not gnaw on it!  A cultured pearl, and a natural one, will feel rough and slightly sandy in texture. An imitation is hard and smooth. The reason cultured pearl feel rough is; because the nacre that forms its surface is actually layers of crystals.  No fake material can duplicate the intricacy of the natural structure.

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While different pearl varieties have different price structures, they are judged by the same five basic quality factors:

  • Luster,
  • Surface Quality,
  • Shape,
  • Color, and
  • Size.

Pearl strand and pair prices are also affected by how well the pearls are matched in all the quality factors.  A strand of pearl should have consistent luster, color, surface quality, and shape.  Color should be matched perfectly, if it is a single color strand.  But, you also have the option of multi color strands, which are particularly fashionable in Tahitian cultured pearls.  For size, strands should all have on e size or graduated, in which case they should increase in size in a smooth graceful steps.

  • Luster
    Luster is most important value factor when it comes to beauty. Luster is the shine and glow of the pearl, the way it handles light. What make it pearly? Basically, it is reflecting light back and refracting through its translucent top layers of nacre at the same time. This gives it a depth, a warm soft glow unlike any other material. High luster pearl reflect objects near them clearly.
    The smoother and more regular the topography of the pearl, the higher the surface quality. Pearls are natural, so when you look at them closely, most of them have tiny spots. divots, bumps, and winkles.  The fewer the blemishes, the more valuable is the pearl.
  • Shape
    The pearl shape is very important when it comes to price, because most people expect pearls to be round. Off round, baroque (non-symmetrical shaped), and circle (ridged) pearls are the pearl world’s biggest bargains, because most people do not consider these non round pearls.  With exception of pear shape or drop pearls, which are particularly great fro pendants and earrings. Matched pairs of drop pearls are particularly prized.  One interesting fact; baroque pearls, in particular Tahitian baroque pearls, are lustrous because the extra curves on the surface help to increase reflection.
  • Size
    As with every gem, the bigger the pearl size, the higher the cost. Pearl size is measured in millimeter, and it refers to the diameter of the pearl.

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