Guide to Find a Good Buy on Pearl Jewelry
If you want a nice pearl necklace but you are on a very limited budget. How can you find a strand you like at a good price?
First you are showed a strand of Japanese akoya pearls. You point out that the pearls are round and well matched, but their pearl coating is very thin. Consequently the strand is not a good choice for long-term, every-day wear. You add that the round white saltwater pearls in your price range tend to have a thin coating, no matter where they're sold. You wonder why no other jewelers ever mentioned this to you.
Then you are showed some strands of freshwater pearls and asked to compare them to the first strand. They're a lot more lustrous. Then you are helped pick out an affordable strand that looks good on you. You are impressed with the sale person's selection of pearls and his or her straightforward approach. You plan on coming back to the sale person's for the rest of your jewelry needs, including a strand of good saltwater pearls when you have more to spend.
For example, you want to buy your wife some pearls for your 30th anniversary, since this is the traditional gift. You and your wife have been happily married for many years, so you want the pearls to be of unusually fine quality. You have read The Pearl Buying Guide and are aware that pearls have many subtle quality differences. You realize you will need some expert help.
As you shop, you discover that you know more than a lot of the salespeople.
Eventually, you find somebody who is really knowledgeable about pearls-Sandy, a college student who works part-time to pay her way through school. Sandy has always had a keen interest in gems, especially pearls, and she takes advantage of every opportunity to learn as much as possible about them.
You already know that you want either pink or white saltwater pearls in the 7 to 8 millimeter range. Sandy brings out a variety of strands and points out the fine nuances of luster, color and surface markings. Then she helps you choose two strands, which they will have strung with three mystery clasps. That way your wife can wear the pearls in different necklace lengths and as a bracelet. This is a quick and easy sale for Sandy, and it's a pleasant experience for you. You've gotten efficient, professional help and exactly the kind of pearls you were looking for.
Another example, you are in a Tahitian jewelry store looking through a bowl of black pearls. Before coming to Tahiti on holiday, you read the Pearl Buying Guide. The salesman in the store tells you that you can have any of the pearls in the bowl for the equivalent of $120. You first pick out the ones with the best luster. Then you eliminate those that are either too light or have no overtone colors. Finally, you end up with a fairly large, tear-drop-shaped, dark-gray pearl with some greenish and purplish highlights. One side of the pearl, however, is badly flawed. But you plan to wear it as a pendant, so the flaws won't show.
On the flight back home, you sketch a design for the pendant and then later has your jeweler make it. You are told you could never find a black pearl as attractive as yours for such a low price. When the pendant is finished, you try it on. You are very pleased with how it looks. But you are even more pleased that you own a unique piece which you has helped create.
Shopping for pearls turned out to be a positive experience for you. This was largely because you took the time to learn about pearls beforehand and/or you dealt with a competent salesperson. Listed below are some guidelines that can help you when you shop for pearls.
Look for luster. This was the first quality factor that is focused attention on because it's the most important one. To understand why, just compare dull milky pearls to some highly lustrous ones. Pearl luster section gives you tips on judging luster.
When judging prices, try to compare pearls of the same type, shape, size, color, luster and blemish quality. All of these factors affect the cost of pearls. Due to the complexity of pearl pricing, it' easier for consumers to compare pearls that are alike or at least similar.
Look at a variety of qualities so you'll have a basis for comparison.
Remember that there is no standardized system for grading pearls. As a consequence, grades such as "A" have no meaning other than what the seller assigns to them. In some cases, an "A" grade may be the lowest quality a store stocks. The lack of standardization does not mean there's no point in grading pearls. It's just an added reason why you need to know how to judge pearl quality yourself.
Be willing to compromise. You can settle for something other than what you might have preferred in order to stay within your budget. You may get freshwater instead of saltwater pearls and accept the pearls badly flawed on one side. Even people with unlimited budgets have to compromise sometimes on the size, shape, color or quality due to lack of availability. A pearl doesn't have to be perfect for you to enjoy it.
Beware of sales ads that seem too good to be true. The advertised pearls might be of unacceptable quality, especially in terms of nacre thickness. Or they might be stolen or misrepresented. Jewelers are in business to make money, not to lose it.
If possible, establish a relationship with a jeweler you can trust and who looks after your interests. He can help you find buys you wouldn't find on your own.
Place the pearls against your hand and answer the following questions. A negative answer suggests the pearls are a poor choice.
a. Do the pearls have bright, sharp light reflections?
b. Do the pearls have overtone colors? (This is a characteristic of pearls with good luster.)
c. Does the color of the pearls look good next to your skin?
The preceding guidelines in essence suggest that you learn how to evaluate pearls. But why is it so important for you to do this? Why should jewelers educate you about pearl quality? Is it just to help you compare prices? No. Learning more about pearls will help you make a choice you can enjoy for a lifetime and will help you appreciate the unique qualities of the pearls you choose. How can you appreciate something you don't understand?
As you learn to compare luster differences among pearls, you will see how pearl brilliance differs from that of other gems. The brilliance of faceted gems normally appears best in their face?up position. No matter how you hold or wear good pearls, they glow. Even away from light they glow. And this glow has an intensity and depth unmatched by any other shiny round object.
As you learn to compare the color nuances of pearls, you'll see that good pearls are not just white. They have a variety of underlying colors which add to their beauty. And they come in a wide spectrum of body colors. Some people say that pearls make them look washed out. These people change their mind when they see black pearls and when they try on lighter pearls that enhance their body coloring.
As you are introduced to the different pearl shapes, you'll see how pearls offer creative design possibilities unlike any other gem. Even a basic strand of round pearls can be worn in creative, versatile ways.
Pearls can be worn anywhere, at any time, with anything. And even though pearls offer all these positive features, you don't have to be rich to own fine-quality pearls. If you are willing to compromise on the type of pearls you choose, you should be able to find good ones to fit almost any budget.
But to spot good pearls, you need to know how to judge their quality. So look at pearls whenever possible. Take time to analyze them. Ask jewelers to explain their quality differences. Gradually, you'll learn to recognize good value, and you'll see that the pearl is a remarkable gem which has no peer.
Click here for how to learn more about pearl jewelry.