How to Shop for Pearls

There are a variety of factors we look at to grade pearls, and there is no universally accepted grading system. When you start shopping for A, AA or AAA pearls, different companies will offer different pearls based on their interpretation of that grade. It can be difficult to figure out on your own but we are here to help! We know all about these organic gems and would love to teach about and help you shop for them. Whether you decide to buy your pearls from The Pearl Girls or another source, we hope you can feel confident in your choice and excited about your purchase!

  • What types of pearls do you sell?

    Great question! The majority of The Pearl Girls pearls are freshwater cultured pearls from a pearl farm outside of Shanghai. We absolutely love freshwater pearls! We also sell saltwater South Sea pearls, Akoya pearls, Cortez pearls and Tahitian pearls from India’s travels.

  • Are freshwater pearls round?

    Freshwater pearls form in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes these different shapes are created intentionally and other times the mollusk spontaneously creates these off-round shapes. The round freshwater pearls are typically the higher quality and more valuable of freshwater pearls.

  • Are saltwater pearls more valuable than freshwater pearls?

    Pearls cultured in saltwater can be more expensive than pearls cultured in freshwater, but they are not necessarily more valuable. Saltwater pearls require an ocean based operation and therefore they can be more expensive to produce. This expense is passed on to the consumer. Read more here.

  • How do I choose a strand of pearls?

    Pearls are a bit like fine art, you have to choose a strand that makes your heart sing! Also, know there is not a large resale value on pearls so choose a strand you want to enjoy wearing, not one you hope to resell down the road. Finally, and most importantly, buy pearls from a trusted source that can confidently tell you exactly what you are buying.

  • How do I know if a pearl is high quality or low quality?

    There are many factors we look at to grade a pearl. If all factors are the same, the pearl closest to round will be the most valuable. We also look at the surface of the pearl… is it marked or spotty? All pearls have surface imperfections (they are organic, after all!) but you don’t want too many imperfections that your eyes just stare at the spots. Also, how shiny are the pearls? This is luster. Most people agree a high luster is a great quality to have in pearls. Also, how well do the pearls match in the jewelry? And, of course, how big is the pearl? Large pearls can be the sign of a more valuable pearl.

  • I found a strand of freshwater pearls that were not very expensive. Why?

    There are a billion freshwater pearls cultured each year. These pearls come in all different sizes, shapes, and the quality of these pearls varies greatly. This is why you can find some incredibly inexpensive pearls in the marketplace today. The lower quality pearls are much cheaper than the high quality pearls, which fetch a much larger price.

  • I once saw an oyster opening party where the shell was white but the pearl was cranberry, why is that?

    Online and at tourist destinations, vendors offer the opportunity for people to open an oyster shell and get a pearl. Most of these experiences have been manufactured by taking after market pearls and seeding them into a juvenile oyster. These pearls are typically freshwater pearls and many of they have been dyed to offer a variety of colors. These experiences can be tons of fun. But, they are meant solely for amusement and rarely offer high quality pearls.

  • Is a freshwater pearl the same as a cultured pearl?

    Yes, a cultured pearl means a pearl was formed by some sort of human interference. The opposite of cultured pearls are natural pearls. And both cultured pearls and natural pearls can be exist in freshwater or saltwater!

  • Tell me more about colored pearls.

    Pearls can have a natural color or they can be dyed. Some people will dye white pearls black to mimic Tahitian pearls or they may dye them designer colors. Freshwater pearls from China are naturally white, pink or mauve. If you see a freshwater pearl in another range of color, it has been dyed.

  • What pearls do you suggest buying first?

    First and foremost, every woman needs a pair of stud earrings. After that I believe all women need (and deserve) a classic strand of medium white pearls like The Pearl Girls Classic White Necklace. These strands are walk through life pearls and many occasions call for a classic strand of pearls. 18” is the most popular length we sell. Once you and the one you love have a classic strand, the naturally progression is into bracelets, more earring designs and different colors or different sized pearls.

  • What type of pearls are white pearls?

    When you buy a classic strand of white pearls, you are purchasing either freshwater pearls from China or saltwater Akoya pearls from Japan, China or Vietnam. The Akoya pearls are bead nucleated and the freshwater pearls do not have a bead for a nucleus.

  • Why are freshwater pearls sometimes funny looking?

    Sometimes pearls can be funny looking! But saltwater pearls have a bead nucleus, a round bead in its center. With a bead nucleus, the oyster gets a little template to work with. Freshwater pearls do not have a bead in the center of them so they can have more varied shapes. But, freshwater pearls are denser and made of more pearl making material than a saltwater pearl…. that is one reason I love them!

  • Why are pearls different colors?

    All mollusks that can make their own shell can make a pearl. And the colors of those pearls depend on the color of the shell. The mollusk is using the same material it uses to make its shell to make a pearl. For example, Tahitian black pearls come from a black-lipped oyster! Black shells can produce black pearls!

  • What size pearl studs should I buy?

    Our studsare so beautiful. The small, 5mm pearl studs are great for children, petite women or anyone with small ears or an understated style. Next, our Medium, 7mm studs are the best all around size and they match our classic pearl strands. The large 10mm pearls add a nice pop and are surprisingly popular with high school kids. And our extra large 12 mm pearls are borderline huge and are great… as long as you aren’t talking on the phone all day! They sort of get in the way of that!

  • Can you redesign my pearl earrings?

    We love redesigning earring to suit your style. Look over the designs we make in new jewelry or email us a photo of what you want created!

  • Can I replace the pearls in my earrings?

    Yes! We can remove pearls from earrings and rings and replace them. We use a special epoxy remover which works best on real pearls and higher quality metals.

  • Can you turn my pearl earrings into clip-on earrings?

    We sure can!

  • I lost one earring. Can I buy a single earring?

    You sure can! We sell just one earring for half of the cost of a pair! We recommend sending the earring to us so we can perfectly match your pair!

  • The post fell off my earrings

    The good news is this is an easy fix! If you purchased your earrings from The Pearl Girls, we will fix it for free. If you bought your earrings elsewhere, we can reattach your pearls to the post for $10. Did you lose your pearl? We can replace it!

  • How do I choose a strand of pearls?

    Pearls are a bit like fine art, you have to choose a strand that makes your heart sing! Also, know there is not a large resale value on pearls so choose a strand you want to enjoy wearing, not one you hope to resell down the road. Finally, and most importantly, buy pearls from a trusted source that can confidently tell you exactly what you are buying.

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