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Pearl Sizes: Does Size Really Matter?

How to buy the right size of pearl

Cultured pearls are measured in millimeter sizes, and come in a range of sizes from as small as 1.0mm up to 20.0mm. This guide will help you determine which pearl size is right for you.

Pearl Sizes

Here are a few tips to help you while you read this guide.


  • When pearl experts talk about size, they use the high end of the measurement. That means when you ask about an 8.0mm strand of pearls, the assumption is that you’re asking about 7.0-8.0mm, not 8.0-9.0mm.
  • Akoya pearls are measured in half-millimeter increments. No other pearl type is measured like this. Freshwater, Tahitian and South Sea pearls are all measured in whole millimeter increments such as 9.0-10.0mm.
  • South Sea and Tahitian pearl necklaces are measured exactly, so a necklace listed on our site would typically display measurements like 9.5-11.6mm and so on.
  • Keep in mind that pearls have volume, not just diameter. What may seem small to you on a ruler does not always appear so in real life.
  • PurePearls.com carries pearls from 6.0-6.5mm up through to the 13.0-14.0mm range; smaller and larger sizes are available upon request.

6.0 - 7.0mm Pearls

Approximately a quarter of the size of a dime, or about ¾ the size of a pencil eraser, this size is perfect for petite young ladies and younger girls under 16 years old. These size pearls are great as a pair of ‘first’ pearls, or for women who prefer dainty jewelry.

7.0 - 8.0mm Pearls

Our most popular and versatile size, the 7.0-8.0mm range is appropriate for ladies over 16 years and up. Slightly larger than the size of a pencil eraser, this size is perfect for both day and evening occasions, and can be worn anywhere and everywhere. Another good example would be the size of a men’s dress shirt button.

8.0 - 9.0mm Pearls

A beautiful and versatile size, the 8.0-9.0mm range encompasses all pearl types. For Akoya and Freshwater it is on the higher range, Tahitian and South Sea pearls start at this size. Small enough to be worn daily, the 8.0-9.0mm range would be slightly larger than a pencil eraser, or about the size of a pea.

9.0 - 10.0mm Pearls

The largest size for Akoya pearls, and on the larger end for Freshwater, the 9.0-10.0mm size is about 10% larger than the 8.0-9.0mm range, a little over 1/3 of an inch in size. This is the smaller size range for both South Sea and Tahitian pearls, which makes them very affordable for those looking to purchase higher-end exotic pearls without the high-end price tag.

10.0 - 11.0mm Pearls

The most popular size for Tahitian and South Sea pearls, the 10.0-11.0mm size range is a little under one half-inch in diameter, about the size of a marble. This size range can be carried off both as a pearl stud earring, and as a dangle. Pendants will look proportionate to nearly all body types without being overwhelming.

11.0 - 12.0mm Pearls

This is the largest size for Freshwater pearls and in the medium range for Tahitian and South Sea. The 11.0-12.0mm size is approximately ½-inch in diameter. This size works well for women in their late twenties and up, and sits well on the ear as a pearl stud with a large friction backing or as a dangle earring. Pendants will attract the eye and look proportionate to the wearer without being overwhelming.

12.0 - 13.0mm Pearls

The mid-upper range in size for these two pearl types, the 12.0-13.0mm size can be compared to a dime. Perfect as a pendant or a large strand of pearls, the 12.0-13.0mm range works well for women over thirty years of age and up. We recommend a pair of large friction backs to stabilize this size of pearl stud, and dangles are a great option for this pearl size.

13.0 - 14.0mm Pearls

The larger range for these two pearl types, the 13.0-14.0mm size is comparable to a nickel. Large and luxurious, these larger sized pearls work best as dangle earrings and pendants.