Learn how much pearls cost, what factors affect pearl value, and how to find pearls at up to 80% off retail
Learn how much pearls cost, what factors affect pearl value, and how to find pearls at up to 80% off retail
Pearls vary widely in value, from as low as $150 to as high as $10,000+. For example, $150 could buy a set of simple pearl earrings, while $50,000 will get you a top 0.1% pearl necklace from a high-end brand.
But price doesn’t always correspond to quality when you’re buying pearls. In fact, the pearl industry is full of confusing grading metrics and inconsistent brand guidelines that make it hard to find a great deal if you don’t know where to look.
In this guide we’re going to help you fix that. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll learn:
Let’s review a quick example to establish a baseline pearl value:
When most people think of “pearl jewelry” they think of an elegant, white pearl necklace. Many types of pearls can be white, but the standard is the Japanese Akoya. Akoyas range from relatively affordable to extremely high-end, and can fit almost any occasion.
A classic, mid-level white Akoya pearl necklace will cost $250 to $5000 depending on brand, quality, and type of pearl.
For example, check out these two pieces from luxury brand Mikimoto, and our own Pure Pearls Akoya line:
The Mikimoto Akoya necklace is $5980, while our Pure Pearls Akoya necklace costs $629.
You may have noticed that these two necklaces are very similar on paper:
But there are two key differences:
At first glance, these differences don’t seem to make sense. Why is the necklace with better AA+ pearls cheaper? And what do A+ and AA+ grades even mean? (Hint: Mikimoto's A+ grade isn't a great match for our AA+ line).
Those are questions that historically could only be answered by someone with insider knowledge of the pearl industry. But today we’re going to share that information with you.
When you start shopping for pearls, you’ll start to notice that almost all pearl jewelry is graded on a scale from A to AAA. The standard grading scale includes:
AAA is considered the highest standard grade, while A is considered the lowest.
However, the definition and value of an “A,” vs “AA,” pearl varies from brand to brand. One brand’s A might even be higher quality than another brand’s AA.
Plus, not all brands even use every value. For example, somepearl companies give their best pearls the AAAA label, while others only use A and A+ grades.
Mikimoto is one such example:
Mikimoto doesn’t even use the Hanadama or AA+ certifications — only A, A+ and rarely seen AA and AAA
The A and A+ rating system seems simple, but is really just another marketing play. These brands want to distance themselves from the inflated grading systems used by lower-end brands. Instead, they pare down their ratings to the bare minimum.
If a brand uses only A and A+ ratings, that’s a neutral sign of quality. High-end brands like Mikimoto will do this, but so will some lower-end brands.
Essentially, letter grades are only helpful if you’re comparing pearls within the same brand.
Our AAA pearls are consistently higher-quality and more expensive than our AA+ pearls for example. However, these ratings don’t tell you how our pearls compare to other brands.
For example, let’s return to the comparison above. Mikimoto’s A+ pearls are actually higher quality than our own AA line, even though AA is a higher rating.
A more fair comparison would be one of our Hanadama Akoya necklaces, which costs $1889:
You’ll likely notice that even our high-end AAA Akoyas are less than a third of the price of the similar Mikimotos. We’re able to charge lower prices because of our pared back business model — We’d challenge anyone to buy both and find noticeable differences.
Learn more about specific items in our online store: Shop Best Sellers from Pure Pearls
So if you can’t use standard grades to compare pearls, how do you determine what a pearl should cost?
In short, you have to find a trusted brand that consistently produces high-quality pearls.
For some, this means buying only from high-end brands like Mikimoto or Tiffany’s. These two brands especially have great reputations in the pearl space and have been producing quality pearl jewelry for decades.
But their pieces are also prohibitively expensive, and not a great value.
The other option is to do a bit more research. With a little know-how you can quickly and easily spot great pearls at a great value, while avoiding scams and sky-high markups.
Here’s your quick start guide to finding amazing pearls at incredible prices:
Brands with specific quality standards and guidelines are less likely to sell mediocre pearls with inflated pearl grades. It doesn’t particularly matter if the brand you buy from uses A and A+ or A through AAA ratings (though AAAA+ and above ratings are usually a red flag). You just need to understand what each brand’s grading scale even means.
If you’re still on the fence about which pearls to buy, you can always buy jewelry from multiple brands and compare in person.
In fact, when people call us and ask whether they should buy from us or a competitor, our answer is almost always:
We’re so confident in our products that we offer a 90-day return policy and will pay your return shipping if you aren’t blown away by your purchase. Feel free to compare our pearls to any other brand to make sure you’re getting the best value.
When you follow these three steps, you can find amazing deals on stunning pearls without the markup you’ll get from luxury brands.
Brand markups and grading aside, the most important factor that will determine pearl value is pearl type.
Specifically we have (In order from least to most valuable):
*Note that Hanadama pearls are simply the best of the best Akoyas.
Below, we’ll share what you can expect to pay for each type of pearl as well as what you’ll pay in general for each type of jewelry (including necklaces, earrings, and bracelets).
If you know what kind of pearl jewelry you’d like to buy, this section is for you:
A real pearl necklace can cost anywhere from $150 to $10,000+ or even more for exceptional examples. Affordable Freshwater necklaces can go as low as $150, while a classic Akoya necklace will cost anywhere from $250 to $5000+.
For more information, read how Freshwater pearls compare to Akoyas.
Freshwater Pearl Necklaces
$130 - $5,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $150 and $3,000 for a high quality freshwater pearl necklace.
Akoya Pearl Necklaces
$150 - $10,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $220 and $8,000 for a high quality Akoya pearl necklace.
Tahitian Pearl Necklaces
$450 - $10,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $600 and $30,000 for a high quality Tahitian pearl necklace.
South Sea Pearl Necklaces
$450 - $100,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $950 and $40,000 for a high quality South Sea pearl necklace. (Though we sometimes carry exceptional examples worth $100,000 or more)
Real pearl earrings typically cost between $100 and $2000, though you can pay more for exceptional examples. Affordable Freshwater earrings can go as low as $100/pair, while classic Akoya earrings typically range from $200-$400.
Freshwater Pearl Earrings
$80 - $700 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $90 and $1,000 for high quality freshwater pearl earrings.
Akoya Pearl Earrings
$80 - $2,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $85 and $1,700 for high quality Akoya pearl earrings.
Tahitian Pearl Earrings
$150 - $5,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $150 and $3,200 for high quality Tahitian pearl earrings.
South Sea Pearl Earrings
$200 - $10,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $200 and $4,000 for high quality South Sea pearl earrings.
A real pearl bracelet typically costs between $100 and $2000, though you can pay more for exceptional examples. An affordable Freshwater bracelet can go as low as $100, while a classic Akoya bracelet typically ranges from $200-$2000.
Freshwater Pearl Bracelet
$110 - $2,500 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $115 and $1,800 for a high quality freshwater pearl bracelet.
Akoya Pearl Bracelet
$150 - $7,500 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $175 and $4,500 for a high quality Akoya pearl bracelet.
Tahitian Pearl Bracelet
$350 - $10,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $475 and $5,000 for a high quality Tahitian pearl bracelet.
South Sea Pearl Bracelet
$500 - $10,000 or more. At Pure Pearls you’ll pay between $775 and $10,000 for a high quality South Sea pearl bracelet.
If you already know what kind of pearl you’d like, but aren’t sure what kind of jewelry you want, this section is for you:
Note: All prices are general ranges. Truly exceptional examples may fall outside the upper end of these price ranges.
Cultured Freshwater pearls from China are a colorful and budget-friendly pearl type. Choose from White, Pink/Peach, Lavender and Black hues, in classic sizes ranging from 6.0-7.0mm through 10.0-11.0mm.
Read our Freshwater Pearl Buyer's Guide for more information about cultured Freshwater pearls.
Cultured Japanese Akoya pearls are considered by many to be THE Classic White pearl. Akoya pearls are world-famous for being perfectly round in shape, with near perfect matching and a bright, highly reflective and glossy luster.
Read our Akoya Pearl Buyer's Guide for more information about cultured Akoya pearls.
Famous for their large sizes and rainbow of stunning colors, black Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia are gems for jewelry lovers looking for something rare and truly unique.
Read our Tahitian Pearls Buyer's Guide for more information about black Tahitian pearls.
Known as the "Queen of Cultured Pearls", South Sea pearls are the very largest and most valuable of all major pearl types. South Sea pearls are available in natural shades of White and Gold, and range in size from 8.0-9.0mm through 15.0-16.0mm and larger.
Read our South Sea Pearl Buyer's Guide for more information about cultured South Sea pearls.
Finding great deals on pearls can be a confusing process if you don’t know where to look.
Each brand uses different grading factors and pricing models, which makes it hard to compare prices and quality from one brand to the next.
If you want the best deals on pearls, remember to:
Or, if you’d like to skip straight to browsing some of the best deals you’ll find on stunning, luxury-grade pearls, check out our classic Akoya collection.
We invite you to compare them to any pearls on the market — it’s 100% risk free. Just order the pearls, think about it for up to 90 days, and if you’re not completely satisfied, just send them back. We’ll pay return shipping.
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