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Where to Buy Pearls

Learn How to Avoid Scams and Find Breathtaking Pearls for Yourself or a Loved One ⁠— All While Saving 80% On Retail Prices

Pearls can vary wildly in quality from one retailer to the next, so it’s important to buy from a brand you can trust. One retailer’s top-end AA+ pearl might get rejected for another brand’s cheapest pearl setting, so it’s hard to compare brands if you’re not a pearl expert.

Fortunately, we’ve been in the pearl business for over 15 years at Pure Pearls, and in this article, we’re going to share everything we know about how to find gorgeous pearls at a great value.

You’ll learn:

  • The best places to buy pearls
  • Which stores carry the best quality gems and settings
  • Which stores to avoid altogether
  • How to find the best pearl deals withoutsacrificing quality

Top 5 Best Places To Buy Pearls

Before we dive into the details, here’s a quick overview of where to look if you’re searching for the best place to buy pearls:

1. Online Pearl Boutique: Pure Pearls

Buy luxury grade pearls at 80% off retail prices


2. Luxury Pearl Retailers (Mikimoto, Tiffany's etc.)

High-end pearls with high-end prices


3. Traditional Jewelry Stores (Zales, Jared, Mom & Pop shops, etc)

Average- to high quality pearls with heavy markups


4. Big Box Retailers (Amazon, Costco, Walmart, etc)

Inconsistent quality with high markups


5. Auction or Marketplace sites (eBay and Etsy)

Lots of scams or shady sellers, with a rare deal here and there

Akoya Pearls on Blue Silk Glamour Photo

The best way to buy high-end pearls at a great value is to shop online at a specialty boutique like Pure Pearls. 

Because we sell online, we’re able to save money that other stores spend on expensive storefronts (think rent, high-end furnishings, and utilities). Instead, we take that same money and:

  1. Hire highly qualified pearl experts
  2. Create educational resources for our customers (like this article!)
  3. Offer gorgeous pearls at extremely competitive prices

Focusing on these three factors helps us source luxury-grade pearls efficiently and sell them at a deep discount ⁠— usually less than 1/5th the price of retail. That means you save 80% on standard pearl prices when you buy from Pure Pearls!

Plus, we offer a wide variety of products, including:

… all enclosed in carefully crafted gold and silver settings.

And if you have any questions about your pearls, you can always give us a call and ask a qualified pearl expert for help.

For example, many of our customers ask us to help them select an amazing set of pearls for their wife or loved one for an anniversary or other special occasion.

You simply won’t find better pearls or a better deal anywhere… online or off.

If you want to see the pearls for yourself, we encourage you to order a set and try them on at home. You get a full 90 days to try the pearls, and if you don’t love them, send them back for a full refund. We’ll even pay return shipping.

Shop best-selling pearls at up to 80% off: Shop our best-sellers


I guarantee my pearls are equal to anything you can find at a luxury store…For a fraction of the price.

If you don’t LOVE them, send them back for a full refund”

- Ashley McNamara, Pure Pearls CEO


Pure Pearls Fast Facts:

  • High Quality Pearls, Hand-Selected by Experts: We sort through thousands of pearls by hand every year and only sell the top 0.1% in our store. That means for every pearl in your necklace at least 999 pearls didn’t meet our standards.
  • Unbeatable Selection and Value. We offer a wide range of fine cultured pearl jewelry in every pearl type,all at 1/5th the price of retail!

  • Unparalleled Emphasis on Pearl Education:We’ve written 100+ articles on pearls to help you find the perfect pearl piece for your needs. Our best customers are well-informed. They know it's not easy to buy high-quality pearls, and they can trust us to deliver every time. (Get started and see which resources are most importanthere)
  • Live Support from Pearl Experts. When it comes to fine cultured pearls, you’ll never ask a question here and have the answer be “I don’t know”. Our team has more than 15 years of experience in the pearl industry, so there are few people on the planet with our level of experience and knowledge. Just give us a call and find out!

Buy Luxury Grade Pearls at 1/5th the Price:

Shop Pure Pearls Best-Selling Pearls

2. Luxury Pearl Retailers

(E.g. Mikimoto, Tiffany's)

Two of the biggest names in luxury pearls are Mikimoto and Tiffany’s.

Mikimoto is a specialty retailer that sells high end pearls exclusively. The top 1% of Mikimoto pearls (typically costing $20,000+ per piece) are untouched in the industry. But not all their pearls reach these lofty quality standards.

In fact, Mikimoto will often take one or two extremely high end pieces and ship them from store to store to show off. The rest of their pearls are high quality, but are closely matched by more affordable brands.

Tiffany is a general jeweler, selling diamonds and other gemstones along with pearls. Their pearl jewelry is usually very high-quality and features high-end pearls in unique settings. Their pearls typically won’t quite match Mikimotos in quality, but will come in a wider variety of styles.  

Both of these brands offer jewelry that pearl-lovers would be proud to wear. However, their pearl jewelry also comes withluxury grade price points.

For example, let’s look at a classic Akoya pearl necklace from each brand.

At Mikimoto,you’ll pay $4370:

For comparison, buying the same pearl necklace from us will only cost you $1049 ⁠— less than half the price of the Tiffany equivalent and less than a quarter of the price of the Mikimoto!

The Tiffany and Mikimoto pearl necklaces might include more ornate clasps by default. But the pearls will all be similar in quality, and we can always custom design a clasp if you’d like one.

Note: If you find white pearls jewelry at budget prices from Tiffany or Mikimoto, double check the specifications. They're likely made from affordable freshwater pearls, not Akoyas. Make sure you’re comparing Akoya to Akoya and Freshwater to Freshwater.

When you buy from Tiffany or Mikimoto you’re basically paying for the brand and a level of consistency. If you have the money to spend, the high end Mikimoto pearls are often worth it. (For example, this gorgeous$38,000 white south sea necklace is truly unique and worth every penny… If you have money to spend and know what you’re looking at)

But if you want luxury-grade pearls for less than $20,000, you’re better off shopping for pearl jewelry at a smaller specialist boutique like Pure Pearls.

Luxury Pearl Fast Facts:

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from luxury pearl jewelry retailers:

  • High Quality Pearl Jewelry With Sky-High Price Tags:For example, a relatively simple string of high-quality pearls from Mikimoto costs $4000+.
  • Pre-Fabricated Jewelry With No Room for Customization: These stores offer little to no opportunities to customize your pearls in terms of length, overtone, gold color, etc. You can only buy what they have in stock.
  • Pearls Sourced From Standard Sources. High end brands like Mikimoto used to culture their pearls at their own pearl farms so they could control quality. Now, they buy from the same auctions and processing houses we use.
  • Mountings Made of Silver and Gold: All the settings from luxury jewelers are made of standard sterling silver and gold. There’s no “magic dust” that makes this jewelry a great value except for the branding.

Read more in ourhead-to-head comparison of Tiffany and Mikimoto.

3. Traditional Jewelry Stores

(Zales, Jared, Local Brick & Mortar Stores, etc

A traditional jewelry store will offer solid service and reputable products, but they’re typically not pearl experts. Instead,their bread and butter is diamond bridal jewelry sales.They’ll only sell a handful of pearl pieces in a year. This means:

  • All Pearls Comes with HUGE overhead– think 300-500%+ mark-up.
  • Pearls Are Average Quality.These companies don’t sell many pearl items, so it doesn’t pay for them to invest in high-end pearls.
  • The selection will be small, especially compared with a specialty vendor.
  • Their background knowledge on pearls will be limited.  These jewelers know their diamonds and precious gemstones backwards and forwards – it’s what they do every day. Pearls? Not so much.

You can find a solid deal at these stores every once in a while, but you have to know what you’re looking for and find a piece on a deep sale.

Where are the pearls?

Do you see any pearls in that display case? Me, neither.

4. Massive Online Stores & Big Box Retailers

(Blue Nile, Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco, Walmart, etc)

Online or “big box” retailers may offer more selection than most brick and mortar jewelry stores, but their products aren’t consistent in price or quality. They may offer mediocre pearls with heavy markups, or feature cheap pearls that look great online, but have obvious imperfections when you see them in person.

Even the product image has water stains… Where’s the quality assurance?

Why You Should Be Wary of "Commercial Quality" Pearls:

Most of the pearl jewelry at stores like Macy’s, Overstock, Costco, or Walmart, are made using “commercial quality” pearls. These pearls are ordered in mass quantities using rough quality guidelines. Then, they’re put together by mid-range jewelry fabricators to save money.  

The biggest problem with commercial-quality jewelry is that the quality is very inconsistent. One piece could have all mid-high grade pearls while another has mid-low. These brands don’t hire experienced pearl experts, so the quality control just isn’t there.

Overall, when you buy from a big box retailer, here’s what you can expect:

  • Quality that Varies Greatly.  Your items will be plucked from storage and sent to you without anyone actually seeing or touching the gems. You could get a great piece, or one that’s damaged or uses low-quality pearls. It’s all luck of the draw.
  • Customer Service Sales Staff that Has Limited Pearl Knowledge. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s written on the “tech specs” on their site and not much else.
  • Higher Mark-Ups for Mid-Range Commercial Quality Jewelry:  You’ll still end up spending more and getting less.
  • Pre-Fabricated Jewelry With Average Quality Settings.There is no chance for customization in terms of length, color, overtone, clasp, etc.

Still, buying from one of these pearl vendors is still a better option than the last stop on our list: auction and marketplace sites.

5. Auction & Marketplace Sites

(eBay, Etsy, Auction sites, etc)

Buying pearls online from eBay, Etsy, or another auction or marketplace site is EASILY one of the riskiest propositions on the internet. There’s virtually no quality control on these platforms, and they regularly feature thousands of counterfeit pearl listings.

You shouldonly buy from one of these platforms if you know what you’re looking forand are willing to take a risk. Sometimes you can filter through thousands of pearl listings to find a great deal, but it’s hard to do and not recommended.

Other cons of buying from a marketplace or auction site:

  • eBay Is Well-Known for Hosting Anonymous Vendors Hawking Fake Pearls (usually dyed Freshwater) masquerading as Tahitians pearls, South Seas pearls or Akoya pearls.
  • Getting a Refund Is a Pain. The process of getting your money back from an overseas vendor that sold you a cheap imitation strand is going to cost lots of time and probably money (return shipping to China isn’t cheap!).
  • There Are ZERO Guarantees that the pearls in the listing picture are the ones you are going to receive. There’s no assurance you’ll even buy real pearls.
  • Reviews Are Often Fake,so, it’s hard to know what’s real or not.

Still convinced you might find a great deal on eBay? Read this article by the independent authority on pearls – Pearl-Guide.com.

Read: Is eBay fraud eroding the value of pearls?

*hint – the answer is yes.

Get Luxury Pearls and Craftsmanship at 1/5th the Price

At the end of the day, the two safest places to purchase pearls are at a dedicated online boutique, or a luxury pearl retailer. Other stores may offer solid quality pearls, but they usually come with sky-high markups and are hit-or-miss in terms of quality.

If you’re stuck between these two options, think about it like this:

If you’re willing to spend $20,000 or more on one set of pearls, you may find the best of the best pearls at Mikimoto. But for all other purchases, Pure Pearls is the absolute best place to buy pearls.

To learn more, check out ourbest-selling pearl jewelry, or read more abouthow to buy pearls, orwhich size to buy.

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