A: This is by far the most common question I get, and for good reason. Pearl size is one of the key factors affecting the price and also one of the first things to be noticed. While there is no definitive answer to this question, I believe this guide will help you find the perfect size of pearl for you and your budget.
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Before we go any farther, you should know that the most popular, classic and versatile pearl necklaces are in the 7.0-8.0mm size range. The 7.0-8.0mm size range is widely acknowledged to be the "go-anywhere" size, perfect for nights out, office wear or even a quick trip to the grocery store in a T-shirt and jeans. This size range is also age-appropriate for ladies from 16 years old up through women in their 50's, so these are necklaces that will be worn and enjoyed for many, many years. In this size range you have two options:
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.
The 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).
Quick Note: For your reference, our model below is of thin build, average height and is wearing an 18-Inch, Princess length pearl necklace in all pictures below. For most women, the 18-Inch length necklace will come to rest about 1.5 to 2-Inches below the hollow of the throat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This 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 think: 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 shown above graduates from 10.0-13.0mm approximately.
Tahitian pearl necklaces often feature a graduation rate of 2.0 to 2.5mm, sometimes larger.
The 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. The 7.0-7.5mm and 7.5-8.0mm 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.
The most popular and versatile pearl stud size for ladies aged 18 to 60. The 7.0-8.0mm size range is the epitome of "Classic Pearls", and is sure to be appropriate and beautiful no matter when or where they're worn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These 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 13.0mm.
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.
Cultured White and Golden South Sea pearls can attain some incredibly large sizes ... pearls measuring over 20.0mm have crossed my desk from time to time. Due to their rarity, very large South Sea pearls command premium prices atarting at $1,000 for a single pearl, minimum.
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: