Pearl Jewelry Buying Guide

With this pearl jewelry buying guide, find out the information you need! Choosing jewelry can seem intimidating. When you have some tips to lead the way, it is much more enjoyable. Read on to get the tips you need from our pearl jewelry buying guide.

Choosing Between Natural and Cultured

Natural pearls are rare and expensive. They are not interfered with by man so they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. A natural pearl has a beautiful luster to it that makes it highly desired for jewelry. Cultured pearls are created on oyster farms by means of a human adding a small bead to a mollusk to create the pearl. They are also available in various sizes and colors, but will not be quite as bright as natural pearls. It is important to note that cultured pearls are not imitation pearls. They are real but grown under different conditions.

Saltwater Versus Freshwater

In most cases, this factor is less important than you might think. Many people think they have to decide which type as if one is better than the other. The truth is that both kinds of pearls are valuable and beautiful. Since the determining factors will be color, size, and shape, the location the pearl was grown is less important. Please note that saltwater pearls typically have a more brilliant luster and thicker nacre. This difference is the most apparent in large pearl strand necklaces, earrings and pendants.


The two things to know about this factor is the body color and the overtone color. The body color is the hue of the pearl such as white or green for example. The overtone is the color that pools on the surface of the body color. For instance, a pearl may have a white body color with a pink overtone.

When examining color, you want to look at the pearl against a white backdrop. This will help reduce glare so you can carefully examine the luminosity and color throughout. If you are examining a string of pearls, you should still look at body and overtones, but also check to make sure the colors match up with the pearls next to every pearl for color uniformity.

When looking at luster, you want to check how much of a reflection the pearl gives. If it creates a reflection similar to a mirror, it is high-quality. If it is more muddled, it is lower in quality.


When buying pearl jewelry, size is the next most meaningful factor after color. Pearls can range in size from 2mm to 20mm. Obviously, the bigger the pearl, the more expensive it will be. The size of a pearl can also mean a difference in the luster. Since it was left to cure longer than smaller pearls, a larger pearl will have a brighter luster.


For this factor, consider how round the pearl is. Most pearls are actually not completely round and take on a more off-round or even oval shape. When choosing pearl jewelry, it is less important that a pearl is perfectly rounded and more important that it is similar in shape to the surrounding pearls on the string. For instance, a pearl necklace with a few perfectly rounded pearls and a few oval shaped pearls will look more awkward than a string made entirely with oval shaped pearls. There are several industry classifications of shape. From the most round to least, they are:

  • near-round
  • oval
  • button
  • drop
  • semi-baroque
  • baroque

Ready to Buy Pearl Jewelry?

At Joy Jewelers, you will find high quality pearl jewelry sourced from leading pearl farms. Shop our pearl jewelry collection today.

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