Pearls that are used in jewelry making are usually the refined ones. The pearl making process of mollusks can be hastened by inserting an irritant into it. The mollusk will then surround this irritant with a pearl. When you buy pearl jewelry, you should consider its shine, thickness, color, smoothness, and shape.
Experts look at the nacre thickness and quality when making quick judgments on the value of a pearl. According to expert jewelers, the nacre thickness determines how long a pearl can last, while the nacre quality affects the luster. A high quality one presents an excellent shine. Jewelry experts have no problem distinguishing a high quality pearl from a low quality one, but customers should look out for the following:
1. Brilliance – The luster is one important factor to look for when shopping for pearl jewelry. The luster of a fine pearl comes not just from the surface, but also from within. The multiple layers inside a pearl gives it a unique glow, one that you will not notice on silver or gold jewelry. You can try to hold a pearl against a fluorescent light source, and then turn it to see if the luster remains identical on all its surfaces.
2. Color – A typical high quality pearl has color overtones. A rare one has rose-colored overtones, distinct only upon close visual inspection. This rare piece makes some of the most expensive jewelry pieces in the market. The cream-colored counterpart is more common, therefore making it less expensive. Natural colors are white, black, gray, gold, pink, green, and blue. Fake jewelry makers can dye a pearl to make it look like a natural one. In some cases, only a gemologist can identify a fake among the genuine ones.
3. Blemishes – No pearl is made by nature perfectly. Each one will have surface blemishes, which are only noticeable upon close inspection. Such surface imperfections can be seen upon examination against a dark background using intense and soft light. Jewelry makers may ignore the blemishes as long as high luster is maintained.
4. Size and shape – A big one is rare, therefore, more expensive. An expensive pearl is usually above 7 millimeters in diameter. The shape is also an important consideration. The perfect pearls are those with a spherical shape; a characteristic that is quite rare. A perfectly round one could be one of the most expensive jewelry items in the market. On the other hand, there is the symmetrical pearl with a teardrop or a pear shape. These are more common than the round ones and are also more affordable. But if you want the cheapest one, the decorative type, which has an irregular shape, can do.
As mentioned, most pearl jewelry pieces today are made of cultured pearls. The natural one has become extremely rare these days. Nonetheless, it is very difficult to distinguish a cultured pearl from the natural one. Only through x-ray examination can an expert confirm whether a pearl is natural or cultured.