What to Look for When Buying a Strand of Pearls

Most women dream of owning a pearl strand. If you are starting the process of trying to determine what type of pearl, what type of strand is a good fit for you – then you have come to the right place. In this blog, we are going to explore a few of the things that you should consider when making your first pearl strand purchase!

What type of pearl is right for you?

There are three types of saltwater pearls: Tahitian, Akoya, and South Sea. Each of these pearls are unique and have vastly different features. If you are looking for the “classic pearl strand” then Akoya Pearls would most likely be the best fit for you. If something a bit more bold and dramatic is what you have in mind, then Tahitian Pearls would be perfect. If you love larger pieces of pearl jewelry then we would recommend beautiful South Sea Pearls.

Here is a beautiful visual illustration of the differences upon first glance for these different types of pearl strands.

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Choosing the shape of your pearl

After selecting the type of pearl you like most, the next step is to identify the type of shape you want. Many people think that all pearls are round. While pearls are round, they also come in gorgeous drop shapes, near round, button, oval and baroque. When selecting the type of pearl shape, it’s important to simply pick the shape that you enjoy most.

Here are just a few of the beautiful types of pearl shapes you will come across in your search for a pearl strand:

unnamedSelecting the quality of your pearl strand

Now that you have selected the type of pearl you want as well as the shape – most of the choices should be done – right? The last aspect to consider when making your first pearl strand purchase is evaluating the type of quality that is important to you. As can be expected, the higher the quality, the more valuable and therefore the price of the piece is higher. Depending on your budget, we recommend selecting a higher quality pearl over a larger pearl or a specific shape. For example, perfectly round highly rated Akoya’s will fetch a higher price than near round highly rated Akoya’s. In that particular scenario, we would recommend selecting the near round pearls so the quality could be higher for a similar price.

Here is an illustration that will highlight how we at Seven Seas Pearls grade and rate pearls.

ScreenHunter_1923 Sep. 18 22.36Buying your first pearl strand is very exciting! We would love to help you find the perfect piece that suits your needs, style and budget. We invite you to explore our selection of hundreds of strands on our website and welcome any questions. If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, please let us know. Our website holds only a small percentage of the literally thousands of pearl pieces that we have. If you are near the Los Angeles area, we would love to welcome you to our showroom. No appointment is ever needed. We look forward to meeting you soon!

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Pearl Shapes and Colors

While many people are aware that pearls come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, most assume that a pearl is a pearl. Seven Seas Pearls at this time only works with saltwater pearls. When it comes to saltwater pearls, there are three types of pearls: Akoya Pearls, South Sea Pearls and Tahitian Pearls. Each of these types of pearls come from a different oyster and are farmed in different parts of the world. When people traditionally think of pearls, many people assume that pearls are all round. While many pearls are round, they also come in gorgeous shapes such as baroque, semi-round, button, teardrop, and oval. One shape is not necessarily better than another – it is strictly preference.

In this blog we are going to give you an overview of each type of pearl and would encourage you to read other parts of our blogs for more details about each type of pearl.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya Pearls are farmed in the waters off the coast of Japan. The temperature, tide and nutrients make this the perfect farming ground for these beauties. Akoya Pearls range in color from white, ivory, blue, silver – and have a multitude of overtones that pair with these base colors. Akoya Pearls are the smallest in size of all the saltwater pearl varieties; typically they range from 2mm in size all the way up to 10mm in size. The most common size of Akoya Pearl is around 7mm. Akoya pearls are considered the “classic” type of pearls. Many women have at least one strand of Akoya pearls in their collection. Akoya pearls can be dressed up – or down depending on the occasion. Because of their size, Akoya Pearls typically are less exaggerated in the more unusual shapes in comparison to South Sea and Tahitian Pearls. Akoya Pearls are typically found in round, semi-round and baroque shapes.

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Tahitian Pearls are farmed in the waters of the French Polynesia (think Tahiti). Tahitian Pearls are found in the black lipped oyster and grow best in the shallow nutrient rich beds called atolls. Tahitian Pearls have magnificent spectrum of colors ranging from black, gray, green, purple, peacock, chocolate and eggplant. For each one of these base colors are dozens of overtones that give Tahitian Pearls a very complex color palette. Tahitian Pearls typically range in size from 8mm (on the small side) and can be found as large as 20mm. Any Tahitian Pearl that is less than 9mm in size tends to be classified as small Tahitian Pearls whereas anything larger than 13mm is considered large and rarer. Typically, Tahitian Pearl necklaces range from 10mm to 13mm in size. Because of the incredible size and color range, Tahitian Pearls have incredible shapes ranging from round, semi-round, baroque, button and teardrop.

South Sea Pearls

Of the saltwater pearl variety South Sea Pearls are by far the largest. South Sea Pearls as their name would suggest are farmed in the South Sea (near Australia). South Sea Pearls come in a beautiful range of white, ivory, cream, champagne, gold, and blue. As with other types of saltwater pearls, South Sea Pearls also have stunning overtones that when paired with the base color creates absolutely stunning shades. South Sea Pearls range in size from 8mm (the smallest) all the way up to 25mm– which are incredibly rare. The average size of South Sea Pearls is 15mm. Because these pearls are so large in size, they come in gorgeous abstract and exaggerated baroque, teardrop, round and semi round shapes.

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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!

Understanding the basics of Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea Pearls

Pearls are all the same, they just come in different shapes and colors right? Wrong. However this is a misconception that most people have. For starters, there are two main classes of pearls: freshwater and saltwater pearls. While freshwater pearls can be beautiful, at Seven Seas Pearls we work with only saltwater pearls.

Saltwater pearls are exactly what they sound like – pearls that come from the ocean. Freshwater pearls on the other hand can be cultivated in streams, lakes and rivers. Saltwater pearls are broken into three main categories: Akoya Pearls, Tahitian Pearls and South Sea Pearls. -Believe it or not if you know this, then your pearl knowledge is already leaps and bounds above the general public.

What separates these classifications of pearls is the region where they are farmed. Akoya Pearls come from the farming waters in Japan, Tahitian Pearls come from the French Polynesian Islands and South Sea Pearls come from the waters of Australia. Each sub-type of pearl has general outlines regarding color and size. Once you become familiar with these outlines, you will be able to identify where any type of saltwater pearl is from!

Akoya Pearls: These gems are the smallest in size in comparison to Tahitian and South Sea Pearls. Akoya Pearls range in size from 2mm all the way to 10mm with 7mm being the most common. Akoya Pearls are typically considered to be the “Classic” pearl. Akoya Pearls come in more muted tones than their Tahitian or South Sea counterparts. Akoya Pearls can range in color from white, to ivory, rose, silver, gray to blue. Each of these stunning “base” colors will have gorgeous overtones that will really make them stand out. – For example, gray Akoya Pearls with a purple overtone.

Here is a beautiful sample of just some of the colors that Akoya Pearls are famous for:

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Tahitian Pearls: These metallic beauties are known for their incredible rainbow of colors. They are larger than Akoya Pearls and typically range from 9mm all the way to 18mm. What makes these pearls unique is their incredible gray and black color. These base colors are simply incredible when paired with stunning overtones such as purple, peacock, green, blue etc.

Below are just a few of the stunning metallic colors Tahitian Pearls are famous for:

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South Sea Pearls are the largest of all saltwater pearls. These gorgeous gems range in size from 8mm all the way to 27mm. Like Akoya’s, South Sea Pearls are known for their more muted and pastel colors. South Sea Pearls are famously known for their deep golden and champagne colors but also come in a full spectrum of ivory, white, blue pistachio and light pistachio.

Here are a few of the stunning colors that South Sea Pearls are famous for:

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As you can see, there is a vast difference between each of these types of pearls. Once you become familiar with the colors and sizes, it becomes quite easy to determine where a pearl has originated from. Check back soon for a more in-depth look at each of these subtypes of pearls.

Choosing the Right Necklace Length

After choosing what type of pearl, the size, color and shape most would think that the selection process is over – right? Nope. As with regular necklaces, pearl necklaces come in an array of various lengths. Typically (especially if you are buying for someone else) this can be slightly overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be! Here we have put together a simple guide to help you understand how and for what occasion most necklaces are suited for. All you need to do is determine how and for what occasion you plan on wearing your pearls most – and we will suggest the most common length!

Collar Style Pearl Necklace

The collar style pearl necklace is around 14 inches in length and fits tightly around the neck. This style of pearl necklace looks absolutely stunning with scoop neck, v-neck, boat neck and off the shoulder type clothing.

Choker Style Pearl Necklace

The choker style pearl necklace fits a bit looser than the collar style and is about 16 inches in length.  This style of necklace typically sits rather tightly at the base of the throat. This is thought to be a very versatile size as it works with both high and low necklines.

Princess Style Pearl Necklace

The princess style pearl necklace is typically around 18 inches in length. This is the most common length of necklace because it is incredibly versatile and looks great with any type of neckline. The princess style length sits on the collarbone and is great for both formal and casual wear.

Matinee Style Pearl Necklace

The Matinee Style Pearl Necklace typically is between 20 and 24 inches long. This style necklace can be dressed up – or dressed down depending on the occasion. Depending on the size of the woman, this length of necklace typically falls between the collarbone and the bust line. With a necklace of this length, it’s easy to see how with a business suit it could appear dressier – or with a t-shirt it could be more causal.

Opera Style Pearl Necklace

For women who love the dramatic look of a long string of pearls, the opera style pearl necklace is perfect! The opera style length typically is between 28 and 36 inches long. This type of pearl necklace typically works best with clothing that has a high neckline and formal evening wear. If you attend formal events on a regular basis – this just might be the perfect length for you.

Rope Style Pearl Necklace

While you might think that the Opera style pearl necklace is as dramatic as it gets – rope style pearl necklaces take it a bit further.  The pearl rope style necklace is typically at least 37 inches in length – but it can also be much longer. This type of necklace can be made with multiple clasps to allow for a single dangle look – or wrapped in a way that allows for a multiple strand choker. Pearl Rope necklaces are commonly seen dangling to accentuate a backless gown.

If you are still unsure of what length is appropriate for you, we invite you to either give us a call or stop by our Los Angeles Showroom. We would be more than happy to show you different lengths of pearl necklaces and help you find the length right for you.

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.