Sizes of Saltwater Pearls

When it comes to diamonds, most people understand something about their size and how that size is determined. While pearls are graded in a very similar fashion to diamonds – most don’t understand what the different sizes of pearls mean. While this is a pretty in-depth topic we will do our best to give you a basic understanding of pearl sizes and how they compare to each other.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya Pearls come from the pearl farming waters of Japan and of the three saltwater varieties are the smallest in size. These pearls tend to range from 2mm all the way to the more rare size of 10mm. The average size of Akoya Pearls are between 7mm and 8mm. Many times strands will have a slight variance in order to create a perfectly matched strand. Unless it is a graduated pearl strand, this slight difference in sizes is not noticeable.

Here is a great visual of a 2mm Akoya Pearl, a 5mm, 7mm and 10mm. You can see in comparison to the penny how these vary in size.

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Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian Pearls are the second largest in size of saltwater pearls. Tahitian Pearls are farmed in the waters of the French Polynesia. These pearls range in size from 9mm to 18mm with the average size being 13mm. These gorgeous pearls come in a wide variety of unique shapes and like Akoya and South Sea Pearls they are also measured at their widest point.

Below you will see a great visual in comparison to the penny as to just how big Tahitian Pearls can be. Here you see a 9mm, a 13mm (the most common size), a 15mm and an 18mm.

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South Sea Pearls

Of saltwater pearls, South Sea Pearls are the largest in size. These incredible pieces range from 8mm all the way to our museum quality 27mm South Sea Pearl. South Sea Pearls can be smaller than 8mm in size, and if they are, they tend to be Keshi South Sea Pearls. The average size of a South Sea Pearl is between 10mm and 15mm.

Here is a great visual example of a 5mm South Sea Keshi Pearl, a 10mm, a 15mm and a 20mm South Sea Pearl. In comparison to the penny, it’s easy to see just how much bigger these beautiful pearls are.

unnamed (4)We hope that this gave a bit of perspective as to what common and more rare sizes of saltwater pearls are. If you are local to the Los Angeles area, we would love to invite you to tour our showroom. No appointment is ever needed and you are welcome at any time.

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Bridal Pearl Jewelry

Finding the right dress, the perfect reception site, and selecting the flowers for a wedding can all be very stressful. One thing that many brides save until closer to the wedding date is finding the perfect piece of jewelry to accent their gown. While it’s obvious that we love pearls, we think that pearls are almost always the perfect piece to accentuate a bride on her big day. In this blog, we are going to give you a few tips and tricks to consider if you are looking for the perfect pearl jewelry piece to wear on your big day!

FotoFlexer_PhotoType of Pearl

Akoya Pearls are commonly thought to be the traditional “go to pearl” for most brides. These gorgeous little gems are delicate and sophisticated. Their wide range of colors will accommodate any skin tone and styles can be selected to accentuate any type of wedding gown. If you consider yourself a traditional bride – chances are that you will fall in love with the beauty of Akoya Pearls.

Depending on the type of gown, setting and personality of the bride, Tahitian Pearls can also be a stunning accent for a bride. Tahitian Pearls are a more bold choice for brides who want their bridal jewelry to make a statement. Personally, if you are having a beach wedding – we absolutely love the choice of Tahitian Pearls.

South Sea Pearls are also a very common selection for brides. Larger than Akoyas, South Sea Pearls give the drama that Tahitians give – with a very similar color spectrum to Akoya Pearls. If you are looking for a larger piece of pearl jewelry that is more subtle in overall color – then South Sea Pearls are just what you are looking for.

The perfect shade…

As any bride knows, there are literally dozens of shades of “white” when it comes to bridalgowns. We recommend when shopping for bridal jewelry to either have your wedding dress with you, or a similar swatch of fabric in the same color tone. This will allow us to help you select the color and tone of pearl that will best accentuate your skin tone and dress.

The ideal length…

When looking for a piece of pearl jewelry, it is crucial to consider the length of the necklace you are considering. No doubt much thought on your part has been put into the neckline of your bridal gown – so it is essential that a necklace with the proper length is selected. When shopping for your pearl strand, we recommend wearing a top with a very similar neckline to your bridal gown. This will help you determine the length that will help you achieve the look you are striving for.

At Seven Seas Pearls we find true joy in helping brides find the perfect piece of pearl jewelry. We would love to invite you to tour our website, or stop by our showroom at any time. We look forward to helping you find the perfect pearl jewelry piece!

Shapes of Akoya Pearls

If you read our last blog, then you have an awareness and working knowledge of what Akoya Pearls are and where they come from. In this blog we are going to explore a bit more in-depth the gorgeous shapes that Akoya Pearls come in.

Many people assume that only high quality pearls are perfectly round. This thought process could not be further from the truth. Another common misconception is that pearls that are irregular in shape are “natural pearls”. Pearls are a naturally formed gem, because the process is not entirely controlled by human hands, gorgeous shapes evolve. Pearls that are not perfectly round are not considered natural pearls. In fact, if anyone tries to sell you a “natural pearl” it would serve you well to run. In today’s pearl market, 99.9% of all pearls are cultured pearls. Meaning that they are farmed and harvested. There are many laws forbidding the hunting of wild oysters for their pearls. As a result, they are nearly impossible to find, and if you did “find one” a red flag should be waving. All pearls, like their gorgeous rainbow of colors come in a variety of shapes. The most well-known are pearls are perfectly round, then near round, baroque, tear-drop and button. When selecting a shape of pearl, there is no right or wrong shape to choose. It is based entirely upon preference and personal style.

Here is a great example of how shapes for Akoya Pearls can vary slightly. While to the layman’s eye, both of these pearls could easily be considered to be round. But in order for a pearl to be classified as round, it must be perfectly round. If you look closely, the pearl on the right is not perfectly round. This shape is called “near round”.

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Because Akoya Pearls are smaller in overall size than South Sea or Tahitian Pearls, the shapes they come in are not nearly as exaggerated. Teardrop and button shaped pearls are common in the larger sizes of pearls (South Sea and Tahitians). Because of its smaller shape, Akoya Pearls are not typically given the classification of button or teardrop shape. For example, South Sea Pearls can grow as large as 27mm (granted this would be quite rare). But because of its size, a baroque South Sea Pearl would be more irregular in shape than a baroque Akoya Pearl.

Here is a great example of what would be considered a baroque Akoya Pearl and a baroque South Sea Pearl. You can see how the difference in size impacts the irregular shape of these beautiful pearls.

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If you are considering an Akoya Pearl Necklace, we invite you to explore our website which has hundreds of gorgeous Akoya Pearl Strands. Each necklace has been individually photographed and graded. The piece that you are viewing is the actual piece that you will receive. If you live in the Los Angeles area, we would love to have you visit our showroom. We are open to the public and you never need an appointment. Our passion is pearls, and we look forward to sharing this passion with you.

What is nacre?

If you have either bought a strand of pearls or done any amount of research on pearls, then most likely, the term nacre has probably come up. And, if you are like most, you just know that the nacre is important – but are not really sure why. In this blog we are going to illuminate why nacre is so important, how it develops, and why it is factored into the overall grade.

Nacre is the outer coating of a pearl. When an oyster is nucleated, the nucleus is irritating to the shell. In order to protect itself from this irritant, the oyster secretes nacre around the nucleus to protect itself from the foreign object. Nacre is also referred to as ‘Mother of Pearl’ and is the same gorgeous and shimmery material that lines the interior of a mollusk.  Nacre is deposited in the thinnest of coatings as the pearl is developing. The layers are actually quite similar to the layers of an onion. Pearls with a short harvest time, tend to have a more thin nacre. Pearls that are allowed longer to cultivate have more layers and therefore a more thick nacre.

Pearls that have a thin nacre may appear beautiful at the time, but as they age, the nacre will wear off thus ultimately removing the luster of the pearl. When this happens, the pearl has a dull and chalky appearance. As a result, pearls that have a higher quality nacre are more valuable and will last significantly longer and maintain their luster in contrast to pearls with a thin nacre.

As we discussed earlier, freshwater pearls are made up entirely of nacre, whereas saltwater pearls have a nucleus with the nacre forming around the nucleus. As a result, the thickness of the nacre is an attribute that applies only to saltwater pearls.

At Seven Seas Pearls, all pearls are rated individually and then each rating is averaged out for a total grade. The rating that Seven Seas Pearls’ uses for the absolute best nacre is “top” from there the nacre is rated Very Thick, Top, Medium and Thin.

Here is an example of the difference between a pearl with top rated nacre and thin nacre – can you see how the nacre dramatically impacts the luster and glow?

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Here is another example of nacre with a less extreme difference between the grades. The pearl on the left has a rating of very thick nacre and the pearl on the right has a rating of medium nacre.

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As you can see from the above images, the thickness of the pearl nacre has a dramatic impact on the overall quality, luster and beauty of a pearl. Check back soon for our next blog on Akoya Pearls!

Why is surface clarity so important for pearls?

When considering a piece of jewelry (pearl, gemstone or diamond) the term “clarity” comes up rather frequently. In past blogs we have explored how pearls are graded and how Seven Seas Pearls grades pearls in contrast to the pearl industry. Surface clarity is a term that is used frequently to describe the overall quality of a pearl – here in this blog we are going to explore in depth why the surface clarity of a pearl is such an important factor to consider when making a pearl jewelry purchase.

The obvious first question is “what is surface clarity” – surface clarity, much like its name implies is how smooth or without flaws the surface of a pearl is. Since pearls are formed by the insertion of a nucleus, the nacre develops around it and results in layers being built around the nucleus. Since the process of nacre layers developing is a naturally occurring process (without human intervention) there is no way to guarantee the quality of the surface clarity. The surface of a pearl can be incredibly smooth – without indentations or flaws or it can be incredibly flawed and have many dents. As we mentioned in a previous blog, like when buying a diamond, it is important to have a balance of all the aspects of how a pearl is graded. If you have a pearl with excellent luster – but poor surface clarity, the pearl will have a dingy appearance. The same would be true with a pearl that had excellent clarity, but poor luster. This is one of the reasons why Seven Seas Pearls grade pearls on each individual aspect and then those ratings are averaged out for an overall grade.

As you are probably very familiar with by now, pearls are graded universally on the AAA grading system. Seven Seas Pearls has added an extra category that describes pearls that have perfect clarity. For perfect surface clarity, this term is AAA Flawless.

Here is an excellent example of how important surface clarity is. Here are two pearls that have the same rating of luster – but as you can see, one has very poor surface clarity (rated A+) and the other has very good surface clarity (AAA Flawless).

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As always, extreme differences are easy to see and take notice of. Here is an example of two pearls that are a little closer on the rating scale – even still, it is easy to see the difference in surface clarity and ultimately why they are graded differently. The pearl on the left has a surface clarity rating of AAA and the one on the right has a rating of AA – can you see the difference?

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As you can see, pearls with a higher quality surface clarity allow the pearl’s luster to really glow and reflect the light. As a result, pearls with a high surface quality are more valuable and desirable than pearls with a lower grade.

The next aspect of pearls that we are going to explore is nacre and why it is so important. Check back soon for our next blog.

Why is luster so important for pearls?

If you have been reading our blog, then you have heard us use the term “Luster” – while you can probably guess just from the name what this refers to, in this blog we are going to give you a more in depth understanding as to just what luster is and why it is such an important consideration when purchasing a piece of pearl jewelry.

The obvious question is “what is luster”.

When you hear “luster” it makes it easier to think of it as the amount of light or glow to a particular pearl or strand of pearls. Light is reflected off of a surface, the luster of a pearl refers to how much light as well as the quality of light that is reflected from the pearl. Pearls can have excellent to very pool luster. Pearls with very pool luster appear dull and have almost a chalky plastic appearance. In contrast, pearls with excellent luster will glow and shine. The luster has a dramatic impact on the overall price of a pearl, the reason being that not many women would be impressed with a string of pearls that had the same amount of glow as a bunch of small rocks.

Here is an excellent example of a pearl with excellent and very poor luster – it’s pretty easy to tell the difference isn’t it?

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That was an example of two extremes – one pearl with perfect luster – and a pearl with absolutely terrible luster. Naturally there are grade variations in between these two examples. If you remember from previous blogs, one thing that we have highlighted many times is how Seven Seas Pearls’ grading system is different than any other pearl grading system. Ultimately, Seven Seas Pearls grades each pearl on their individual criteria: luster, surface clarity and nacre. Others just give the pearl an overall average grade. With our system, it is easy to see exactly the quality of luster you are receiving. The universal grading system for pearls is the AAA grading system. At Seven Seas Pearls, we have added an extra category for pears with perfect luster. These pearls are given a rating of AAA Gem. The rating scale goes from AAA Gem, AAA, AA+, AA, A+ to A ratings. A pearl with the rating of “A” will have very pool luster. Here are a few examples so that you can see for yourself the difference of pearls with various luster ratings.

For example, here is a pearl with AAA Gem rating (very high) and an AA rating (not so high). Can you see the difference between the glow of the pearl on the left and the pearl on the right?

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As you can see from these above examples, the luster of a pearl makes a huge difference on their overall appearance and beauty. It is easy to see why pearls with a higher grade luster are more valuable than pearls that have poor luster. Check back soon for our next blog on surface clarity and why it is so important.