When it comes to determining the relative value of pearls, the importance of experience and knowledge cannot be overstated. A well-trained eye can spot differences among pearl size and luster, which are two of the most important factors for determining value. Lustre refers to the pearl’s ability to reflect light, with a deeper glow increasing a pearl’s value.
A pearl’s size is determined by how much time the pearl spent growing in the oyster, which in turn depends upon the type of oyster used to culture the pearl, as well as the oyster’s location. South Sea oysters, often those from the waters surrounding Australia, produce some of the world’s largest pearls.
Nearly all of the world’s pearls are cultured, meaning that they were grown with the assistance of human hands. While the process is the same as that executed by Mother Nature, human involvement simply diminishes the parts of cultivation which would otherwise be left to chance.
Pearls come in a variety of colors, with the rarity of the color translating to the higher the pearl’s expense. Therefore, a truly lustrous, back pearl can be one of the most expensive, owing to its uncommon appearance in pearl harvests. Akoya pearls from Japan are among the world’s most lustrous. But South Sea pearls are larger and rarer, leading to an increased expense.
Many purchasers are unaware of the various factors contributing to a pearl’s cost. And while it may seem at first that this ignorance would be beneficial to the pearl producers, the opposite is often true. If a buyer is unaware of a pearl’s qualities and their importance, he is unable to understand his purchase. In addition, if a buyer finds the pearl purchasing process confusing, he may choose to spend his money on another gemstone entirely. This has led many pearl producers to take efforts to educate consumers as to the factors impacting a pearl’s worth, an undertaking which benefits all parties.