Pearls are a unique class of gemstones, distinct for being organic products of living organisms. Understanding the quality of pearls is crucial for making an informed purchase. This guide aims to answer common questions about pearl quality, helping you make the best choice.

Types of Pearls

Freshwater Pearls

South sea pearls


The first step in assessing pearl quality is identifying its type. The four primary types of pearls used in jewelry are Freshwater, Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea. Each is produced by a different species of mollusk, living in specific climatic conditions around the world.

Determining Quality: Key Factors

Pearl Shape

pearl shapes

A perfectly round pearl is a rarity and is highly valued. On the other hand, Baroque pearls, which are not symmetrical, are also appealing but generally less expensive than their round counterparts.

Pearl Size


The size of a pearl significantly influences its value. Measured in millimeters, pearls can range from tiny seed pearls less than 1 mm in diameter to South Sea pearls as large as 20 mm. Generally, a 1 mm increase in size can substantially elevate both the pearl's appearance and value.

Pearl Luster

Luster measures the quality and quantity of light reflected from a pearl's surface. High-quality pearls will have a sharp, bright luster, allowing you to see your reflection clearly on their surface.

Pearl Color

Pearls come in a wide array of colors, from white to black and everything in between. It's essential to differentiate between the pearl's color and its overtone, which is a subtle variation in its surface iridescence. Your skin tone can influence which overtone looks best on you.

Pearl Surface

The cleaner a pearl's surface, the more valuable it is. High-quality pearls will have a sharp, mirror-like reflection and will lack disfiguring spots, bumps, or cracks.

Pearl Nacre

Nacre is the substance secreted by the mollusk to protect its sensitive flesh. The thickness of the nacre is a quality characteristic mainly applied to saltwater, bead-nucleated pearls.

Grading System


At Beyond Pearls, we use a recognized grading system: A, AA, AA+, and AAA to evaluate the pearls we feature. The grading is based on six factors: nacre, luster, surface, shape, color, and size.


Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision when purchasing pearls. At Beyond Pearls, we are committed to offering pearls that meet the highest quality standards.

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Pearl Talk

Pearls are personal and each is perfectly unique. The most important question we answer every day, is how do I select the perfect pearls?