Whether they’re natural or cultured, pearls are a beautifully versatile and timeless gem with a wealth of beauty to offer a wide range of jewellery settings. It can be easy to get lost on where to begin when it comes to finding the perfect pearls for gifting or yourself.

Here are our top five factors to consider when choosing the perfect pearl:

1. Lustre & Orient

A pearl’s ability to reflect and refract light is known as ‘lustre.’

Lustre creates an underlying play of colours within the pearl known as ‘orient’, which gives a pearl its unique inner glow.

The higher the lustre and orient, the finer the pearl is considered. The best way to judge the lustre and the orient of a pearl is to assess how bright the “reflections” are from the surface of the pearl, then review how the strong the “rainbow colours” surrounding the reflection appear. If both of these boxes are passed with flying colours, you can consider your pearl a keeper in this department!

2. Colour

There are two factors to consider when assessing the colour of a pearl: body colour and overtone.

The body colour of a pearl can be considered white, yellow or black. The overtone of a pearl refers to the slight tint that may be present in the depth of this base colour.

As a general rule, very white pearls with a rose-coloured tint are the rarest and most expensive. The creamier the colour becomes, the less valuable the pearl.

Cultured pearls are available in many colours that would be incredibly rare or impossible to find, including: gray, black, pink, blue and gold.

3. Size

As with most precious gems, larger pearls are generally more valuable than their smaller counterparts. The typically small size of an average oyster influences the difficulty of cultivating large pearls, while natural pearls of considerable size are even more rare.

Size isn’t everything, though – a slightly larger pearl with poor lustre and orient may be more valuable than its smaller counterpart; and two pearls of the same size may be valued differently under the same considerations.

4. Blemishes

Blemishes and imperfections on the surface of a pearl are another thing to consider when choosing your perfect pearl.

The cleaner the surface of a pearl, the better – small blisters, spots and cracks can all diminish a pearl’s value and cost point.

5. Shape

In general, more symmetrical pearls have a higher value than misshapen pearls.

While perfectly round pearls are extremely rare, nicely proportioned round, oval and tear-shaped pearl are all highly valued. Irregularly shaped pearls like Baroque pearls have a lower price point but hold value for the unique look their shape can lend to jewellery pieces.

Choosing the right pearl piece can seem daunting, but with this helpful guide and the expert advice of your nearest Showcase Jeweller, you’ll find the perfect gift in no time.

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