Her Pearl Was So Cheap! Catherine emailed me the following question:
"My ring has a 10mm golden South sea pearl...perfect in every way. I paid $100 for the ring. Now, I know the reality of this situation...impossible. However JTV advertised this is an authentic pearl. What process did this pearl go through. The pearl is smooth, not gritty to the tooth. I would like to purchase a better quality; who would you recommend??
Now, I interpret this as, Catherine wants to know why her pearl was so cheap! Later Catherine emailed again to ask, "What type of "processing" makes a pearl smooth???" See my answer to that question here: Why Is My Pearl So Smooth?
Okay, lots of things to unpack here. $100 for a South Sea Pearl Ring is a great price. Why was her pearl ring so affordable? I have said many times that pearl farmers get the money they need to run their farm and they, of course, get their money by selling their pearls. If there is a "deal," available, it might be because those pearls are lower quality. So, how could Catherine have bought a South Sea pearl ring for just $100? First, I want to say that I cannot imagine JTV would ever be dishonest about what they are selling. So, if Catherine bought a South Sea pearl ring from JTV, I believe this is, in fact a South Sea Pearl ring.
So, what would make a ring cost only $100. Here are some possible reasons why a pearl ring may be inexpensive.
First let's look at metal. A ring set in sterling silver would be much more affordable than one set in gold. So, I am going to imagine that the ring is in silver. If it is a gold ring, is it gold plating? Inexpensive metals are in inexpensive rings. If it is a true 10K or 14K ring, it might be a really good deal, depending of the weight of metal in the ring.
Made in ?
Next, let's look at the county of origin. Where was this ring made? If it was made in a country with cheaper labor costs, the price of the ring can be lower.
And, finally, the pearl. This, I think, is what Catherine really wants to know. Is this really a nice pearl? Yes, it can be! For sure! And here are some possible reasons why her pearl was so cheap:
When I traveled to Australia in search of White South Sea pearls, I was amazed at the high cost of the pearls. Pearls that were just a little bit rounder or a slight bit bigger would really jump up in price. So, walking the streets of Broome, after traveling out to the pearl farm, I was amazed to find a jeweler selling some lower priced South Sea Pearls. So low, in fact, I could not resist buying some. Why were these pearls cheaper? Because they were smaller. And they were not just small in size but they were early harvest pearls. This means they did not stay in the water very long and did not have the depth of nacre quality that South Sea Pearls are known for.
You see, cultured South Sea Pearls have a nucleus. And you want a certain amount of nacre (pearl making material) on that nucleus. An early harvest pearl has a smaller amount of nacre. Even if it looks great, it falls in the category of having a lower nacre quality. Like I said, I bought some, but I bought them knowing they were not as high in quality as the pearls I bought from the pearl farm.
A pearl with lower nacre quality is one possible reason why her pearl was so cheap!
Shape of the Pearl
Remember from my previous posts that if all quality factors are the same, the pearl closest to round will be the more valuable pearl. So, a pearl that is not as round can still be beautiful. but more affordable! This can make it seem like the pearl was so cheap! And in the proper setting, this pearl can look great. What you might be looking at is a pearl that is round at the top and flatter at the bottom. It fits the setting well and looks great in a ring! If you put a button shaped pearl in a ring it looks good, sits well and is more inexpensive. Hooray!
Let's say you have a beautiful pearl with one really ugly spot on it! This spot can be big and black. It may look like a huge crater. Or, there may be absolutely no nacre on this spot and you can see the nucleus. But, the rest of the pearl looks fantastic! What do you do with this half ugly / half beautiful pearl? You put it in the perfect setting! Affordable rings (or earrings or bracelets) with fantastic looking pearls may have an imperfection hiding in the setting. This is not meant to fool the consumer, it is more like flaunting one's assets! And maybe there is a more affordable price to flaunt, too!
Large Harvest, Over-Supply
When I started buying pearls from China in 2006, they were so affordable! It was amazing! I was paying half of what I pay for the same quality pearls today! And this was because, at the time, everyone and their cousin was a pearl farmer in China. That season soon peaked and prices eventually leveled. However, at the time, I was getting a great price because supply was high. South Sea Pearl productions are considerably lower in volume than Chinese freshwater pearls however a large supply, even of just one size or style of pearl, can equal a lower price. Not always, but, it is another idea of why your pearl was so cheap!
Large retailers can buy larger quantities of pearls at a volume discount. This is huge and can contribute to lower priced pearls. Unfortunately this can also translate to lower quality pearls and poor quality control. However, this is still big. If JTV bought a lot of pearls at once, maybe they simply bought them for less. And passed on their price to their consumers!
Specifically with Golden South Sea Pearls, the golden pearls are considered to be the more valuable pearls. So, the yellow toned pearls are more affordable. Is this a yellow toned pearl? If you want to upgrade your pearl, upgrade the depth of the golden color.
Jewelmer is an amazing company that sells high quality Golden South Sea Pearls! I have a few of their pieces and LOVE them! They are also doing a trunk show at The Pearl Girls in 2021. Check them out!
See my newest post with info on the tooth test HERE!