A Miracle of Nature
The Five Virtues of Pearls are an international standard which is used to assess value.
White South Sea Pearls are known for their large size and their soft, luxurious luster. They come in a variety of colors, depending on the oyster species and the environment they live in. The 'white-lipped' South Sea variety yields mainly colors in white, pink, silver and blue while the 'yellowlipped' variety grows Pearls from cream to yellow including champagne and gold. The natural golden colour is said to be the rarest.
A Pearl can double in price from one millimeter size to the next. For example a 12mm Perfect South Sea Pearl may be $1,000 and a 13mm Pearl with exactly the same characteristics might be $2,000 the increase in one mm in size literally makes that much difference.
There are so many variations within these categories that affect Pearl value however this is a very helpful "guide"
The 5 Virtues Of Pearls
The "surface brilliance"of the Pearl. The quicker the oyster lays the layer of nacre, the better the Pearl because the Pearl will tend to have a "mirror finish". Exceptional lustre has a 'mirror' finish on the surface appearance (when viewed in reflected light).
Pearls are a status symbol and the larger Pearls take longer to form and must grown in a much larger host oyster or mussel. This time and size increase increases the rarity and difficulty in forming larger Pearls, and this makes them the most valuable characteristic or attribute.
The bigger the Pearl, the more valuable. From 5mm to 18mm (extremely rare) - Under 10mm relatively inexpensive.
The value of a Pearl can double from one millimetre to the next. As such, size is a very important factor in the valuation and pricing of any Pearl.
Australian South Sea and Tahitian Black Pearls can grow to between 8mm and 18mm in diameter, while Pure Pearls range from 2mm to as high as 14mm, albeit very rarely.
The round Pearl is considered the perfect gem. A Pearl develops a round shape when it moves freely around the oyster whilst it is growing, but normally they get attached to the shell and become off round or baroque.
The next shapes in value are: Drop, Button and Baroque. However there is strong demand for baroque because of the individual shapes.
- Round is the most valuable
- Drop and Button are perfect for pendants
- Circled are most fashionable
- Baroque Pearl are exceptional value and every one is unique.
The Pearl "picks up" the DNA of the host shell and will reflect the colour of the host.
- White-Rose are the rarest - A consistent strand is more valuable than any individual colour.
- Australian South Sea Pearls come in a variety of whites with silver or rosy tones.
- The golden colour is the rarest colour you can get in a Pearl and it only occurs naturally in the Australian South Sea Pearl.
- Tahitian Pearls are naturally black. They can vary from dark black to green-brown peacock and silver colours. The Tahitian Pearl, grown in Tahiti and South Pacific. Australia also recently started to farm the black Pearls normally comes in Grey, black, silvery and Peacock green is the most valuable. Size varies from 8-18mm.
As an organic gem skin variations are normal. Dimples are one of the only ways to guarantee genuine Pearls. The skin of a Pearl is considered "exceptional","fine" or "A grade" when it has no marks. The larger South Sea or Tahitian Pearls tend to be more marked because of their size. However, if you see a couple of marks on them, the Pearl skin is still fine unless it is heavily marked, in which case, their value decreases.
"A" grade - No flaws on 90% of the surface. Very good luster.
"B" grade - No flaws on at least 70% of the surface. Very good luster.
"C" grade - No flaws on at least 40% of the surface. Average luster.
"D" grade - Pearl has slight flaws on more than 60% of the surface. Weak luster.