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All About Pearls

PEARL GRADING

Pearl Inspection Criteria

  1. Colour: Refers to the comprehensive characteristics of pearl's body colour, accompanying colour and halo
  2. Size: Refers to the size of the pearl, with the size of the pore size of the two bead sieve separated or passed by the pearl
  3. Shape: Refers to the external shape of the pearl
  4. Surface perfection:Refers to the total degree of smoothness and cleanliness determined by the size and location of the flaw on the surface of the pearl
  5. Lustre: Refers to the intensity of the reflected light on the surface of the pearl and the clarity of the image
  6. Matching attribute:Refers to the degree of coordination between single pearls in terms of shape, gloss, finish, colour, size

Pearl Knowledge

PEARLY LUSTRE Surface Grading

A. Pearl surface is clean
B. Pearl surface is slightly flawed
C. Pearl surface is flawed
D. Pearl surface has scar spots and flower skin
E. Pearl surface has threads and wrinkles

    Pearl Knowledge

    PEARLY LUSTRE Lustre Grading

    A. Brilliant
    B. Excellent
    C. Good  
    D. Average
    E. Poor

    Pearl Knowledge

     

    HOW DO YOU VERIFY A PEARL'S AUTHENTICITY

    Touch and feel the temperature

    Real pearls are cold to touch for the first couple of seconds before warming up against your skin.

    Fake plastic pearls have the same temperature as the room temperature and you don’t feel the coolness when you touch them. However, fake ones that are made of glass beads can be cool to touch to start with. But it tends to take them longer to warm up against your skin than real pearls.

    Look for tiny irregularities

    Real pearls are only rarely "perfect". Usually, they'll have small blemishes or irregularities in their shape. In a real pearls, you can always see very tiny differences between them, even when they are top quality and well matched.

    If the pearls are completely perfect and identical in terms of shape, size, colour and surface characteristics, they are probably fake.

    Examine the colour 

    Real pearls often have an overtone, a translucent colour that appears on the outer surface of a pearl. It is especially noticeable among fine quality pearls. You’ll see a hint of pink, green over the main pearl colour.

    If you notice the pearls have only one uniform colour and are lack of depth, they are likely to be fake. But it’s worth noting that some real pearls have no overtone either.

    Observe the shape

    Most real pearls are rarely round. In general, round pearls command a higher price than pearls of other shapes. But even with a strand of real pearl necklace that is perfectly round, you can still see some slight differences in their pearl shapes.

    So whatever the pearl shape, if you find them completely identical, it’s probably a sign that they’re made by machines.

    Rub the pearls to check the texture of the surface

    Real pearls have textured surface due to their layered nacre structure. So when you rub the pearls lightly against each other or on your front teeth, you feel a little gritty. Fake or imitation pearls, however, usually feel smooth or glassy.

    You can also test by using knife to gently scrape the surface as below:

    (Luxury pearls suggested to test in gemological laboratory)

    Check drill holes

    In imitation pearls, you can often see flakes or chipped coating around the drill holes that will eventually peel off.

    At Pearl Lustre, we DO NOT sell imitation or fake pearls. All of our pearls are either freshwater or saltwater cultured pearls from environmentally sustainable farms around the world.

     

    DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FRESHWATER & SALTWATER PEARL

    Freshwater pearls are grown in mussels living in rivers and lakes.

    Saltwater pearls are created by oysters in oceans and originate from places such as Thailand, Australia, Indonesia ,Tahiti and Philippines.

    Akoya pearls are grown in Japan as well as China and Vietnam, are among the most popular and high-quality varieties of saltwater pearls, prized for their superior lustre and nearly ideal round shape.

    Freshwater vs Saltwater Pearls

    Lustre

    In the past, freshwater pearls are less lustrous and not as glossy as saltwater pearl.

    However, in recent years, due to the improvements in farming techniques, now the lustre of freshwater pearls is comparable to saltwater pearl.

    Shape and Colour

    Freshwater pearls come in a greater variety of shapes(round, oval, etc.) and colours.

    Saltwater pearls are usually are more lustrous and have a rounder shape.

    Size

    Freshwater pearls used to be cultivated over shorter periods(less than 2 years) and as a result, they were smaller in size.

    In recent years, however, many producers started to grow freshwater pearls for a longer time(three to six years), and the resulting pearls are bigger(8-15mm) ,quality is comparable to good saltwater pearls.

    Price

    Freshwater pearls are cheaper for several reasons.

    First, freshwater mussels are larger and can thus produce more pearls at a time than can saltwater oysters. As a result, freshwater pearls are more abundant.

    Saltwater ones are mostly round and have better lustre-characteristics that are more sought after and therefore command higher prices.

    Finally, our freshwater pearls that have been cultivated using modern methods, you will find that these pearls often match the lustre and shape of their saltwater counterparts. But at a more reasonable price.

     

      NATURAL PEARL COLOURS 

      The most common colour for pearls is white, cream, pink, purple, but they also come in colours such as champagne, chocolate, blue, gold, silver and lavender. Some pearls have stunning overtones that exhibit multicolours.

      Although humans now successfully culture pearls and create them in controlled environments, there are still certain aspects of the process that they have little control over. One such aspect is the colour of the pearl. While there are some ways to influence this, most times this is simply left to chance. The organic nature in which the pearl is created means that there are many factors that can influence the colour of the pearl.

      Here are some of the aspects that can affect the colour of a pearl:

      Type of Mollusk

      Pearl colors are mainly influenced by the colour of the mollusks lip, which refers to the outer part of the shell. For example, the famous black Tahitian pearls come from the Pinctada margaritifera oyster, commonly known as the black-lip pearl oyster, which has gray and silver tints at the outer edges of its shell. This is the only mollusk that can form natural black pearls. Another popular variety is the silver lipped oyster (Pinctada maxima) which is known for creating the luxurious South Sea pearl variety.

      Thickness of Nacre

      Just in case you were wondering, the nacre refers to the substance that the mollusk uses to layer the irritant placed within it. Over time, this grows into the pearl. In general, the thicker the nacre, the deeper and richer the colour of the pearl. The thickness of the nacre also affects the pearl’s iridescence, with thin nacre usually creating milky pearls with little to no overtone.

      Human Interference

      Sometimes, pearl manufacturers can influence the colour of the pearl by using various culturing techniques. One main way is to include tissue from an additional oyster into the host oyster as well as the nucleus.

      Dyeing the Pearl

      Dyeing the pearl is another way to change the colour of the gemstone. For example, any black pearl you see on the market that is not a Tahitian pearl, has been dyed. This includes black Akoya pearls.