Like diamonds, pearls are judged by a number of characteristics – their combinations ultimately determine the beauty, value and quality.
Lustre is the most important factor. Poor quality pearls exhibit a dim reflection, having a chalky appearance, indicating a thin or poor quality of nacre. On the other hand, pearls with ‘excellent’ lustre have distinct luminosity and mirror-like reflection.
Surface blemishes: Pearls with a flawless surface are very rare – even the most beautiful and valuable have slight imperfections. The fewer, smaller and less visibility, the higher the value.
Shape: Pearls of perfect symmetry, particularly round or pear-shaped, are exceedingly rare and desirable. Although the shape of a pearl does not affect its quality, demand of symmetry will raise the price. Nevertheless, beauty is in the mind of the beholder, and as pearls are a natural product, every one is individual and unique. Shapes vary from drop, oval, round and near round, button and baroque.
Colour: A personal choice. South Sea pearls belong to either a white, yellow or black range, but within each can be found many sub-shades. White with pink overtones is the most prized colour.
Size: The simplest of all factors determining value – larger pearls, because of their rarity, are generally the most highly prized.