Defining & Determining Tahitian Pearl Quality!
Tahitian Pearls are treasured all across the globe for their enormous size, wide spectrum of color, extraordinary radiance and luster and for the fact that they are among the rarest and most complex pearls to come by, on the planet.
So while the world is in full agreement that Tahitian Pearls are some of the most valued items on Earth, it’s important to understand precisely what factors go into determining these pearls’ quality and value, before making your next purchase.
Tahitian Pearl quality is determined by several factors, including:
Smoothness of Surface
This is quite possibly the most prevalent and critical feature considered by many pearl enthusiasts. A premium pearl should have a surface that has minimal to no blemishes and should be clear of any disfiguring dings, cracks or lumps.
Tahitian pearls range in color from shimmering silver to the deepest black and every possible shade in between. The possible overtone colors, which are those shimmering, reflective colors that seem to mysteriously emanate from and float over the surface of the pearl, include blue, green, purple, eggplant, peacock, aubergine, rose, aqua, and silver .
Bigger is not necessarily better, but it definitely is more rare and therefore, more valuable. While the most well known type of pearls, Saltwater Akoya pearls, range from 2 to 9.5 millimeters in diameter, Tahitian pearls range in size from 9 to 16 millimeters, making Tahitians some of the largest pearls found across the entire globe.
That ethereal essence of elegance emanating from the pearl, created when light both passes through the pearl’s “nacre” as well as reflects off of its surface and back to the “eye of the beholder”, is the pearl’s luster. This is that stimulating, radiant, sparkling glow that naturally gives a pearl its beauty and is one of the biggest determining factors in the value of a pearl.
When light passes through the nacre of the pearl, it creates that gorgeous, multicolored iridescence that seems to shine out from the very center of the pearl, like a psychedelic explosion of light and color. Often referred to as “Mother Of Pearl”, nacre is the 100% totally organic, crystalline substance that is secreted by oysters, naturally strong and resilient, yet amazingly light-weight & transparent.
The thicker - the better, as nacre is what makes a pearl strong and capable of lasting centuries, while simultaneously allowing light to pass through its surface and put on a glowing light show that rivals any concert or Laserium show.
While it is true that in general, blemishes and discoloration are most definitely unattractive and undesirable, a pearl without “any” blemish at all can be a “red flag” warning sign of poor nacre thickness and therefore, artificial tinkering with man-made chemicals and procedures utilized to artificially create a blemish free appearance . Therefore, i t can be a tricky tightrope to walk, as you seek out minimal blemishes in a true premium quality pearl, yet recognizing the fact that if the complexion of the pearl seems “too good to be true” … it probably is … so be sure to ask to see the pearl’s GIA certification in order to be certain the pearl hasn’t been enhanced, color treated or coated with any substance.
This characteristic only comes into play with jewelry made from more than one pearl at a time, such as a bracelet or necklace. Just as no two sets of fingerprints or snowflakes are ever exactly alike, so it is with naturally organic pearls. Therefore, matching is the aesthetic expertise & excellence in effectively assuring that each and every pearl within a strand fully harmonizes and matches one another, creating a visually balanced and pleasing visual and artistic effect.
Tahitian Pearls are all natural and organic so they logically come in all shapes and sizes, from pearls that are perfectly round or “Spherical,” such as the "classic" pearl shape that we all are so commonly most familiar with, to those that are known as “Symmetrical,” meaning that these pearls are not necessarily round, but definitely have a delightfully regular shape that is noticeably balanced and visually regular in appearance, where, if one were to carefully slice the pearl in half, each separate half would be an exact, equal “mirror image” of the other half.
For those who prefer something more uniquely original, artistically eclectic and one of a kind, there’s a third category of pearl shape , known in the industry as “Baroque,” where singularly and peerless exclusivity is valued and appreciated in these uncompromisingly individual pearls, one of a kind in both shape and style.
As you can clearly see, there is a LOT that goes into defining and determining the quality and true value of Tahitian Pearls. This article is intended to give you the very basics needed to begin working from, but never hesitate to ask some questions before spending your hard earned money on ANY pearl or jewelry purchase that you make.
If the particular jeweler / seller that you’re dealing with isn’t more than happy to fully answer each and every one of your questions, it’s most definitely time to walk away and go find one who genuinely is!