Understanding Pearl Sizes

March 31, 2015 by Melissa

Pearls are sized in millimeters and this can make it difficult for the average person to understand exactly what size the pearl is. In addition, there are a few other factors that go into sizing pearls that are important when choosing pearls.

About Pearl Sizes

In most cases, when a jeweler is asked for a particular pearl size, they choose samples in a range from the next lower size to that size. For example, if you ask to see a 6.0 mm pearl necklace, you will be shown 5.0 through 6.0 necklaces, not 6.0 to 7.0. Freshwater, South Sea and Tahitian pearls are measured exactly while Akoya pearls are measured in half-millimeter increments.

Size Explanations

In order to understand the size of a pearl, it is best to compare it to common items that everyone is familiar with. A pearl that is 6.0 to 7.0mm is about the size of a pencil eraser while 7.0 to 8.0mm are about the size of a man’s dress shirt button. Tahitian and South Sea pearls start at around 8.0 to 9.0mm and is a little over 1/3 of an inch in size, while 10.0 to 11.0mm pearls are about the size of a marble. Pearls can be as large as 13.0 to 14.0mm, which is about the size of a nickel.

Purchasing Pearls

Smaller pearls are best for young women under the age of 16 or for women who are petite as the smaller size fits their body stature better than larger pearls. Larger pearls, such as those that are 11.0 to 12.0mm are used for earrings while extremely large 13.0 to 14.0mm pearls work best for pendants.

Pearls are one of the most beautiful gemstones available and understanding the best uses for each size, as well as having an understanding of what each size represents, will help you choose the perfect size pearl.