Luster measures the rate of reflection (how crisp and detailed it is) on a pearl’s surface, and the amount of light reflected on the pearls.
Beautiful luster makes or breaks pearls as a gemstone - pearls without great luster can end up looking like chalky beads. Basically, the brighter, sharper and more reflective a pearl is, the more valuable it will be.
Certain pearl types like the saltwater Japanese Akoya are more likely to display sharper luster than others.
Oysters that live in warmer climates (such as the large South Sea pearl oyster, Pinctada maxima, native to Australia and the Philippines) have what we generally term as “Satiny” luster, which appears as somewhat soft and diffuse around the edges, as seen above.
I like to describe it as "touchable" as these pearls have a deeper glow that begs to be touched, rather than a bright shininess.
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