Buyer’s Guide

What SIZE pearls should I buy?

Choosing the best size of pearls for your pearl necklace, earrings, or bracelet is an important decision. Pearls are measured in millimeters, across their diameter. As a general guideline, pearls from 3mm to 5mm are very small, pearls from 6mm to 7mm are decently sized, and pearls larger than 7mm will make quite the impression. A single millimeter difference in size is very noticeable.


(NOTE: The above picture shows the relative size of pearls. They will not appear to scale on your display.)

What QUALITY of pearls should I buy?

Pearl quality is typically denoted by the standard letter grading scale of C, B, A, AA and AAA with AAA being the highest quality.

We encourage you to compare our pearls with those from your local jewelry store. You will find that our grading standards are comparable to, and often higher than, most resellers. NOTE: We do NOT use fictitious grading scales such as AAA+ or AAAA, so when comparison-shopping with other sites, please be aware of this fact. AAA quality pearls from us are the 96% or better blemish free with excellent luster and matching.

The following table describes what each pearl quality rating means. You can view definitions for the terms in the table by clicking on them.

Pearl Outlet Grade

AAA Top 1% of Harvest
Luster: Excellent
Blemishes: 96% Or Better Blemish Free
Matching: Excellent
Shape: Round
Nacre: Thick

AA+ Top 5% of Harvest
Luster: Excellent
Blemishes: 90-95% Blemish Free
Matching: Excellent
Shape: Round
Nacre: Thick

AA Top 20% of Harvest
Luster: Very Good
Blemishes: 80-90% Blemish Free
Matching: Very Good
Shape: Round
Nacre: Medium to Thick

A Top 50% of Harvest
Luster: Good
Blemishes: Moderate to Light
Matching: Good
Shape: Round
Nacre: Medium

B to C Lower 50% of Harvest Commercial Quality (Not sold here.)
Luster: Poor
Blemishes: Moderate to Heavy
Matching: Poor
Shape: Off-round to Near Round
Nacre: Poor

The above scale is for Akoya saltwater, South Sea, and Tahitian pearls. Note that freshwater pearls are graded differently because of their roundness.

What LENGTH of pearl necklace is right for her?

Choosing the right length is an important part of your purchase. Here are some ideas of what might be the right length for her.

  • Choker - 16 inches. A pearl choker is perhaps the most classic and yet versatile of all the single strand lengths. A simple pearl choker can go with virtually any outfit from casual to fancy evening wear, and just about any neckline imaginable.

  • Princess - 18 inches. The princess length necklace is best suited for crew and high necklines. It also complements low plunging necklines.

  • Matinee - 20 to 24 inches. Longer than the choker, and just a bit shorter than an opera length, the matinee necklace is the right choice for casual or business dressing. HINT When buying for an older woman, a longer length helps to draw the attention away from the neck and to the pearls.

  • Opera - 28 to 36 inches. The opera necklace is the queen of all the lengths. When worn as a single strand, it is refined and perfect for high or crew necklines. When doubled upon itself, it serves as a versatile two strand choker.

Click on the picture to the left to see a close-up of the different lengths displayed on a model. Note that the model is a petite woman of approximately 115 lbs. When buying for a larger woman, the necklace will fit closer to the neck.

What OVERTONE COLOR of pearl should I choose?

The overtone color of a pearl is a subtle, translucent color that lies across a pearl’s surface and is secondary to the body color. Having no overtone color is always a safe choice unless you know what overtone color the person you are buying for prefers.

Helpful Hints:

A woman with very fair skin may prefer a slight rose overtone since it will add color to their appearance.

A woman with darker skin color or graying hair will sometimes prefer more of a silver overtone.

How do I open the clasp?


Our most basic clasp is a filigree design. Following is a picture of how to open this clasp.

PEARLS AS GIFTS Cultured pearls make great gifts that can bring lasting memories for women of all ages. Pearls are timeless presents for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, and other special occasions. Pearls are also the June birthstone.

Pearl jewelry also serves as beautiful bridal fashion accessories for weddings. Pearls are also affordable enough to be used as gifts for bridesmaids.

HOW WE MAINTAIN SUCH LOW PRICES The reason we can sell our pearls and pearl jewelry at such low prices is our ability to fly around the world and to buy directly from the major sources, without going through a secondary distributor. Being able to buy them like this, allows us to purchase the pearls for dramatically lower prices, and sometimes sell our pearls for less than wholesale. Jewelry stores, who often buy from outlets like us, typically pay about twice our cost for their pearls, and their markup is usually 400 to 600 percent. You will not see that kind of markup here!

HOW WE PRICE OUR PEARLS All of our pearls are priced at or below wholesale. Any retail prices listed are based on independent appraisals done by Sharon Wakefield, BSChe, GG, ISA-CAPP. Wakefield, a widely respected gemologist and appraiser, holds a Graduate Gemologist (GG) diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and is a Certified Appraiser of Personal Property through the International Society of Appraisers. Note that, while our retail prices are based on these independent appraisals, not every piece has been appraised due to the extravagant cost that would be involved in doing so.

SECURITY Buying on the internet can be a scary experience. That's why we offer a safe and secure way of processing transactions. Every transaction you make includes the following services:

  • Authentication: This assures that you, as a customer, are who you say you are, so that no one can use your credit card, pretending to be you.

  • Confidentiality: None of your personal information is ever given or sold to any other company or individual.

  • Encryption: Every transaction is encrypted in a secure fashion to ensure that no one will be able to steal your personal information.

CARE A pearl is a natural object and is not designed to be in contact with most manufactured chemicals such as perfume, makeup, skin care products, hair spray, or similar compounds. Contact with these items can affect a pearl's luster and color. With this in mind, it's best to make pearls the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off.

If your pearls do require cleaning, it's best to use a very soft, non-abrasive soap such as soft liquid hand soap. Once you have gently wiped them with water and soft soap, you should let them dry naturally by letting them sit on a cloth or paper towel. Do not wear your pearls when the string is wet. NEVER USE DETERGENT OR BLEACHES OR BAKING SODA OR AMMONIA-BASED PRODUCTS. DO NOT USE SCOURING PADS OR ABRASIVE MATERIALS TO CLEAN YOUR PEARLS.

Store your pearls in a soft pouch, separate from your other jewelry. diamonds and other gemstones may scratch them.