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Pearl Grading Guide - Overview


When getting ready to purchase pearls, it is important to understand how pearls are graded. Currently, there is no agreed upon, international standard for grading pearls however PurePearls.com relies on the A-AAA grading scale which is generally agreed as the easiest and most consistent evaluation method that can be utilized for all pearl types. Tahitian and South Sea pearls are typically graded on the A-D scale, which is then converted to A-AAA. PurePearls.com does not offer grades such as AAA+ or AAAA, these are not industry accepted grades.


All pearls no matter what type of pearl it is, all are graded according to 7 value factors. These are:

  • Luster – pearls are prized for their luster. The brighter, sharper and more reflective a pearl is, the more valuable it will be.
  • Shape – generally the more perfectly round in shape a pearl is, the more rare and prized it is, however many pearl connoisseurs enjoy the unique distinctiveness of baroque pearls. Baroques are off-round, drop and asymmetrical in shape, and are graded according to symmetry.
  • Color – While many prefer the classic white pearl, pearls come in every color of the rainbow. Naturally colored pearls like black Tahitian pearls or Golden South Sea pearls are graded on their color’s depth and saturation- the more strongly colored pearls will be more rare and valuable.
  • Surface Blemishing – Pearls that feature clean surfaces without inclusions like pin-pricks, scoring marks, chalky spots, wrinkles will be much more highly valued than pearls with multiple blemishes. However, because pearls are a product of nature, there will always be some form of blemish even if you can’t view them with the naked eye. This is why we will never call our pearls flawless.
  • Size – Large pearls are rare in nature, so the bigger they are the more valuable they are.
  • Natural or Cultured – 95% of all pearls on the market today are cultured pearls, meaning that humans played a role in pearl formation. Natural, wild pearls from the ocean are very rare and have a premium price.
  • Weight - the weight of a pearl is not always provided, however finer jewelers will include it among their descriptions, especially in the case of larger pearls. Pearls are usually measured in carats, grains, or momme. Cultured pearls are generally weighed in momme, and natural pearls in grains.

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