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The Essential Guide to Buying Pearls

Buying pearls can be either a challenging or a simple affair. It all depends on how much you know about them beforehand. If you are completely new to the task or know very little about them, you stand a good chance of feeling confused as you set out to buy pearls.  However, it’s really no rocket science and all you need to do is remember a few simple things to accomplish the task successfully. Here’s a quick list to get started with.

One of the first things to understand is what are meant by ‘cultured’ pearls and how they differ from other kinds of pearls (such as ‘natural’ pearls or artificial pearls). Most of the pearls that you’d encounter in the market today are ‘cultured’ or cultivated under controlled parameters, using artificial stimulation. Cultured pearls come in many colors and sizes, and their prices vary widely too. ‘Natural’ pearls, on the other hand, are somewhat rarer and usually cost a good deal more than the cultured variety.

Before you set you to buy pearls, especially the ‘cultured’ kind, it is advisable to arm yourself with some knowledge about the popular types found in this category. These are:

  • Akoya Pearls – With prices ranging from $60 to $3,000, these are the classic white or cream variety with the highest luster and shine. Akoya pearls generally range in size from 5 mm to 11 mm. They often have rose, cream or ivory overtones.
  • Freshwater Pearls – Originating in the deep recesses of the freshwater mollusks, these pearls are available in various pastel shades of white, black, peach, lavender, pink, plum, purple and tangerine. China is the largest producer of Freshwater pearls.
  • Tahitian Pearls – Tahitian pearls originate from the warm waters of the South Seas. They are grown in Black-Lipped oysters and have the distinction of achieving their dark body color (mostly black and gray, but also silver, green, blue and purple) naturally.
  • South Sea Pearls – Among the most expensive in the ‘cultured’ category, these pearls are products of saltwater, primarily found in the South Seas centering on Northern Australia and South-East Asia, including Myanmar and Indonesia.

Choosing the right color is also an important decision. However, it’s largely a matter of personal choice and is a very subjective matter. The choices are many. If you are looking for a classic look, opt for white pearls. If you want a more adventurous look, you may choose from among the darker varieties or pearls of purple, tangerine or green color.

Finally, be sure to buy your pearls from a reputed seller. Test the authenticity of your purchase by subjecting the pearls to the ‘tooth test’. And don’t get obsessed with brands. With a little patience, you are sure to find that perfect pearl for your budget.