Shapes, Color and Size of Pearls

What shapes do pearls come in and what is the most valuable?

Pearls can come in a range of shapes. The general rule is that the most desirable shape is perfectly round and anything less than this is considered to be of a lower value but off-round or near-round pearls are often excellent value as this can easily be disguised by their presentation or setting. It is worth nothing that certain shapes do lend themselves to types of jewelry for example Mabe pearls are perfect for many types of earrings.

What colors do pearls come in and what is the most valuable?

Pearls come in a range of colors, the most common being cream, white, pink, yellow, gold, black and silver. When we refer to the color of a pearl we mean the body color but pearls can also exhibit a secondary color when light reflects of them, this is normally called an 'overtone'. These secondary colors are very important in pearls as they can affect the overall appearance of a piece of jewelry such as a bracelet or necklace (called a pearl strand). There is also an effect called 'orient' that occurs when the pearl is revolved. The color of a pearl is very much a personal choice and their value is not necessarily affected by the color, but a general rule is to try to find a good solid color with complementary overtones.

What sizes do pearls come in and how does this affect the value?

Pearls are available in a range of sizes and this is greatly determined by their type/origin. Freshwater pearls are available in sizes from 3-7 mm, Akoya pearls range from 6-9 mm and Tahitian and South Sea pearls can start at about 9 mm and range is size up as far as 20 mm. Any pearl that is over 8 mm in size is considered large. As these pearls are often difficult to cultivate and they have more nacre, and are therefore more lustrous, the general rule is that the larger the pearl the more valuable it is.

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