"What size of pearl should I buy?"
Use the links below to jump to different sections of this article. If after reading this article you're still not sure or need some guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us for help.
Table of ContentsUse these links to navigate this article:
- Pearl Necklace Sizes (Model Shots)
See how the different size necklaces look when worn.
- Large Exotic Pearl Strands (Tahitian & South Sea Pearls)
The largest cultured pearl types in the world: Really Big Pearls.
- Pearl Earring Sizes (Model Shots)
Different sizes of pearl earrings shown on a model.
- Different Pearl Types - Different Pearl Sizes
See what size of pearls are available in the four main types of pearls
- Actual Real Life Pearl Sizes - Printable PDF
Print this handy PDF and see what the different sizes of pearls look like in real life.
The Most Popular Size Pearl Necklaces and Earrings
1. Japanese Akoya pearls are measured in half-mm increments (i.e. 6.0-6.5mm, 7.0-7.5mm, and up) and the most popular size of Akoya pearl necklace is 7.0-7.5mm.
2. Freshwater pearls are measured in 1.0mm increments (i.e. 6.0-7.0mm, 7.0-8.0mm and so on), and the most popular size of Freshwater pearl necklace is 7.0-8.0mm
For a classic pearl stud earring, the same 7.0-8.0mm size range is also our most popular choice. Elegant and versatile, the 7.0-8.0mm pearl stud sits squarely on the earlobe without falling forward or putting too much weight on the ear. This size range can also accommodate second piercings a little higher up without crowding out the next earring, which is a common concern today.
Pearl Necklace Size ComparisonThe photo below shows the most popular Akoya pearl necklace sizes from 6.0-6.5mm through 9.0-9.5mm. Each half-millimeter increase in size may not seem like a lot on paper, but keep in mind that pearls have volume as well as diameter. A single half-millimeter increment increase can mean as much as 20% increase in overall size! Compare the first top two strands (6.0-6.5mm vs 6.5-7.0mm) to get an idea of how that 0.5mm measures up in real life.
Pearl sizes from top to bottom are: 6.0-6.5mm (top strand), 6.5-7.0mm, 7.0-7.5mm, 7.5-8.0mm, 8.0-8.5mm, 8.5-9.0mm and 9.0-9.5mm (bottom strand).
Pearl Necklace Sizes on a Model
This necklace has a delicate and dainty pearl size; the 6.0-7.0mm size range works best for young ladies as a "first pearls" present, or women with petite builds.
View 6.0-7.0mm Freshwater Pearl Necklace
View 6.0-6.5mm Akoya Pearl Necklace
View 6.5-7.0mm Akoya Pearl Necklace
7-8mm Pearls On Model:
As mentioned earlier, the 7.0-8.0mm size range is basically "The Classic Pearl Necklace", you really can't go wrong here. This size is very elegant and looks great whether you're at the office, shopping at the store, going out to dinner, special occasions, basically this size goes anywhere and everywhere.
View 7.0-8.0mm Freshwater Pearl Necklace
View 7.0-7.5mm Akoya Pearl Necklace
View 7.5-8.0mm Akoya Pearl Necklace
8-9mm Pearls On Model:
The 8.0-9.0mm pearl size range is the beginning of luxury pearl territory. These pearls will have a nice "heft" to them, and look a tad larger than average for an elegant and glamorous presentation. It is most commonly worn by women 30 years old and up.
View 8.0-9.0mm Freshwater Pearl Necklace
View 8.0-8.5mm Akoya Pearl Necklace
View 8.5-9.0mm Akoya Pearl Necklace
9-10mm Pearls On Model:
The 9.0-9.5mm is the largest size Akoya pearls attain, and is on the higher end for large Freshwater pearls. The 9.0-10.0mm pearl size range is luxurious in both presentation and feel. A perfectly matched necklace of 9.0-10.0mm pearls is a visually stunning strand of pearls that commands attention, yet can still be worn to both day and evening events.
View 9.0-9.5mm Japanese Akoya Pearl Necklace
View 9.5-10.5mm Freshwater Pearl Necklace
View 9.0-9.5mm Freshwater Elite Pearl Necklace
10-11mm Pearls On Model:
The 10.0-11.0mm size range consists of large Freshwater, Tahitian and South Sea Pearls. Freshwater pearls will be fairly uniform in shape and size, graduating from 10.0-11.0mm, while Tahitian and South Sea strands will be graduated (i.e. 10.0-12.0mm, 10.0-14.0mm, etc.). These larger pearl sizes are very luxurious and very glamorous!
Large "Exotic" Strands: Tahitian and South Sea Pearl NecklacesThis category of necklaces features larger pearls in natural shades of black, white and gold. These pearl types are considered "luxury" pearls, and range in size from 9.0mm to 15.0mm and larger: so Big Pearls!
They'll typically be "graduated" in size, so a strand might be labelled as 9.0-12.0mm. What that means is that the pearls progressively get larger from 9.0mm at the clasp to 12.0mm in the center and so on.
Below are pictures of some of our "exotic" strands showing what pearl graduation looks like.
This White South Sea pearl necklace below graduates from 10.0-13.0mm approximately.
Fairly typical pearl size graduation in a Tahitian Pearl Necklace
Pearl Earring Sizes on a ModelThe pearl stud earring is a classic piece of jewelry that every woman should have stashed in her jewelry box. The right pair of studs can go anywhere and look absolutely perfect on any occasion. As mentioned earlier in this article, the most popular pearl stud earring size is within the 7.0-8.0mm size range. 7.0-8.0mm pearls will sit nicely on the earlobe with a demure look and won't feel too heavy or fall forward on the lobe.
These are ideal for young ladies from 6 years old up to 16 years old, and women with petite builds.
6.0-7.0mm Elite Collection Pearl Earrings
6.0-6.5mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
6.5-7.0mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
The most popular and versatile pearl stud size ever! Day or evening, just another day or for a special event, the 7.0-8.0mm size range is the epitome of "Classic Pearls".
7.0-8.0mm Elite Collection Pearl Earrings
7.0-7.5mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
7.5-8.0mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
Easily our second most popular pearl earring size range, the 8.0-9.0mm pearls are for ladies wanting one step up from "normal". A touch more glamorous without being too dramatic, and still comfortable on the ear.
8.0-9.0mm Elite Collection Pearl Earrings
8.0-8.5mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
8.5-9.0mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
The 9.0-9.5mm is the largest size for our Japanese Akoya pearls, and generally our smallest for South Sea pearls. This size is elegant and beautiful, and also stays within a demure range without getting overly dramatic.
9.0-10.0mm Elite Collection Pearl Earrings
9.0-9.5mm Akoya Pearl Earrings
9.0-10.0mm White South Sea Pearl Earrings
The 10.0-11.0mm pearls are right in the "sweet spot" for luxury pearl earring sizes. You'll find very large Freshwater pearls and smaller Tahitian and South Sea pearls in this size range. These pearls still have a moderate feel and weight, and won't fall forward off the ear.
10.0-11.0mm Elite Collection Pearl Earrings
10.0-11.0mm White South Sea Pearl Earrings
10.0-11.0mm Black Tahitian Pearl Earrings
What women love about 11.0-12.0mm size pearls is that they are unmistakably high-end, luxury pearls. Luminous and luxurious, Angelina Jolie is known for sporting this stud size (and larger!) to many of her red carpet events.
11.0-12.0mm White South Pearl Earrings
11.0-12.0mm Golden South Sea Pearl Earrings
11.0-12.0mm Black Tahitian Pearl Earrings
The 12.0-13.0mm pearl size is one of our largest available, and the largest stud size we recommend for women. Consider dangle earring styles for pearls measuring over 13.0mm due to weight issues. The 12.0-13.0mm size range consists of larger, exotic pearl types like the White and Golden South Sea pearls, black Tahitian pearls and in rare cases, Freshwater pearl types.
12.0-13.0mm White South Sea Pearl Earrings
12.0-13.0mm Golden South Sea Pearl Earrings
12.0-13.0mm Black Tahitian Pearl Earrings
Pearl Sizes and Pearl TypesThese pictures all show the main pearl types: cultured Freshwater, Japanese Akoya, black Tahitian and White and Golden South Sea pearls with their most popular sizes as compared to a US Dime. Keep in mind these images are not intended to show the exact size of the pearls, but the size range available in each pearl type.
Japanese Akoya pearls range in size from 2.0mm "seed" pearls up through 9.5mm and very rarely, 10.0mm. The most popular and common sizes you'll find today range from 6.0-6.5mm through 9.0-9.5mm pearls.
Cultured Freshwater pearls come in sizes that start as small as 4.0mm and range up to 12.0mm and lately, larger! The most common and popular Freshwater pearl sizes found today range from 6.0-7.0mm up through 10.0-11.0mm.
Exotic black Tahitian pearls are naturally larger-sized pearls, ranging from 8.0-9.0mm up to 15.0-16.0mm and larger. The most common and popular size range is from 9.0-10.0mm up through 13.0-mm.
South Sea Pearls
Both White and Golden South Sea pearls are famous for being the largest pearls available in the world. They range from 8.0-9.0mm up through 16.0-17.0mm on average, and can sometimes attain sizes of 20.0mm! The most popular pearls range in size from 9.0-10.0mm through 13.0-14.0mm.
Pearls Sizes in REAL Life (Printable PDF)
This handy little printable PDF is useful for seeing seeing how large (or small) you can expect the pearls you're purchasing to be. We've included the most common and popular pearl necklace sizes from 6.0-6.5mm through 9.0-9.5mm. Pro Tip: you can use this guide to determine how many pearls per inch to expect for each necklace (not including knots). To view EXACTLY how each pearl size will appear in real life, download and print our PDF guide here:
About the Author
I’ve been with Pure for well over 10 years and am incredibly passionate about what I do! My 15 year career in the jewelry industry spans working in the precious colored gemstone wholesale sector, as well as stints in diamond bridal jewelry manufacturing division. I earned my GIA Pearls certificate in 2004.
I’ve written extensively about pearls for many online trade publications including Jewellery Net Asia, the CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America), and of course, Pearl-Guide.com on all things pearl-related.
Feel free to email me with any questions or issues – I am always happy to help!