Each and every pearl harvested is unique, a little like a fingerprint, making it essential to establish quality grading standards. At Tustains we stock Mikimoto pearls, which maintain the strictest quality control standards. Here are the five factors we use to assess quality - keep them in mind when you are buying pearls:
Lustre is the amount of light a pearl reflects... both from its surface glow and its inner light, a deep mirror-like reflection. The better the nacre quality of the pearl, the more superior its lustre. Only the highest quality pearls with the most luminous lustre carry the Mikimoto name.
- Surface Perfection
Subtle blemishes and tiny marks are part of a pearl's natural texture and proof of its genuine origin. These blemishes result from sea particles that drift into the oyster and brush against the pearl as it forms. Fewer surface imperfections denote a higher quality, more valuable pearl.
Of the many shapes available, perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. With Mikimoto South Sea pearls, unique shapes like button, tear drop, oval and baroque are also favoured.
Pearls vary widely in colour, based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colours range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and pink rosé are among the most popular Akoya colours; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While colour choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich colour that is evenly distributed throughout the pearl.
While size does not affect the quality of cultured pearls, it does affect the price. Large pearls are more difficult to cultivate because oysters often reject the large implanted nucleus; their rarity creates
higher value. Pearls are measured in diameter increments of millimetres (mm). The classic Akoya pearl generally ranges from 3mm to 10mm. South Sea pearls begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 18mm.
The staff at Tustains are all trained to recognise and discuss our pearls with customers, so please feel free to come in for a consultation about what is right for you.
"Pearls are one my personal favorite gems. When buying it is essential to correctly understand the differences between the culturing methods etc, there is really no substitute for seeing and feeling the differences. We will all have our own opinion of which combination of factors gives the most pleasing look. I recently had a pair of beautiful Akoya pearl earrings pass over my desk. As i turned them in the light gazing at the play of colour and luster I realised that I have been doing it for half an hour and the time has passed like minuets, truly, truly beautiful things, a forever gift" - Joe Milner, Director Tustains.