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  1. #1
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    Default Reputable Online Sellers?

    After spending about 6 hours today researching information on pearls, and driving around town to chain jewelry stores and private jewelry stores... I wasn't satisfied with what my small town has to offer. So I'm browsing online stores to purchase pearls because who doesn't like a good deal. right? I did background searches of multiple online sellers, and became scared from the complaints and (some) bad reviews. Should I try buying them? They supply certificates with each purchase, but in my experience in the violin making industry, certificates can be forged.

    1. Should I try some online sellers?
    2. Should I just order a Mikimoto bracelet instead...

    I'm looking for an 18 inch, 7mm-7.5mm single strand pearl (at least AA+) for my GF, 1st anniversary. Unfortunately my budget is $1500 maximum, so a Mikimoto strand with those specifications is out of my reach.

    I'll list some websites that I have found, and read up on from other members on this website. Please be civil about the companies. I'm looking for what is best for my situation.

    purepearls.com
    pearlsofjoy.com
    [Are those two associated? Seems like the clasp they sell and boxes are quite similar]

    americanpearl.com
    pearlparadise.com

    premiumpearls.com
    [I heard too many negative things about this website... in comparison to others for $ to quality ratio]

    mikimotoamerica.com
    [Maybe if I gave them an arm and a leg.... but at least I know I'm getting quality, yes?]

    Our first anniversary is on March 15, 2016. I need help from everyone! D:

  2. #2
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    I don't believe this. All those sites except maybe the last have great return policies. Whats the point in setting up a comparison of sellers? In this case a comparison of necklaces is all that is needed.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  3. #3
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    I've ordered from Pearl Paradise, Pearls of Joy, and Mikimoto.
    I've been very satisfied with the first two. I can get photos, ask questions, order and return multiple items until I'm satisfied.
    Mikimoto's items are lovely, but you pay a premium for the name.

    PP and PoJ will go out of their way to make sure you are satisfied.
    I've heard good things about Pure Pearls, too.

    I was cautious at first, but I'm now a loyal customer. They have much nicer pearls than the brick and mortar stores.

  4. #4
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    I have bought from Pearl Paradise (many times), Pearls of Joy and Pure Pearls. I've been happy with all three.

    No vendor is going to have 100% positive reviews, no matter how good. If there is some reason you are dissatisfied, the return policy will be honored.

    Also, I'm sure Miki pearls will be beautiful but you are really paying a lot for the name. You can get equally beautiful pearls for much less.

    I would think many vendors get their boxes from the same suppliers.

    I believe some discount codes are still valid for February, too. For your budget you could get larger pearls.
    Like these 7.5-8.0mm; even the AAA are within your budget:
    http://www.pearlparadise.com/p-610-7...-necklace.aspx

    A 7.5-8.0mm strand will be about 22% larger overall than a 7.0-7.5mm strand... (Just saying, we ladies tend to like larger pearls when we can get them...)

    Link to my thread on pearl size and how much it's affected by small changes in diameter:
    http://www.pearl-guide.com/forum/sho...er-really-make
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 02-22-2016 at 07:10 PM.

  5. #5
    Second-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member KaySD's Avatar
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    I have purchased many items from Pearl Paradise in the last 3 years, both online and in person (I live 2 hours away). They have great customer service and beautiful products.

    I purchased a 51" strand of AAA 7-7.5 mm Akoya pearls from American Pearl 12 years ago. They had good customer service, and I didn't know about PP at the time. After I discovered PP, I asked them to re-string my AP Akoya strands and add a few inches. They had to use AA+ pearls to add length because the PP AAA pearls had a much higher luster than my AP AAA pearls. (The PP strands were less expensive too, so I have been kicking myself about how much I paid for the AP strands.)

    I agree with Pearl Dreams about bumping up to 7.5-8 mm in size. I hardly ever wear the 7-7.5 mm Akoya strands I bought 12 years ago because the size feels too petite on me now.

    I would go for the 18" AAA 7.5-8 mm Akoya strand from Pearl Paradise. It is $1193 with the 15% Valentine's discount. I've seen them in person, and the AAA from PP glow. The AA+ are also very nice, but since the AAA are in budget, go for the higher luster.

    http://www.pearlparadise.com/p-610-7...-necklace.aspx

  6. #6
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    @Caitlin, I should have clarified more on what I was asking. I meant to ask a comparison of the necklaces that each seller offers. Since I've read that quality and grading may slightly vary from seller to seller. Every seller has a return policy, but I'm running out of time to purchase a gift. I don't think I'll have time to buy and return if necessary. [March 15, 2016 deadline].

    @BWeaves, thanks for the input. Yeah, I drove hours out of town to check out some Mikimoto pearls, but with my budget I could only afford a bracelet. And in all honesty I didn't really know what I was looking for, all I really could say was it looked nice. I looked for uniformity, abrasions, and etc. But luster, nacre, etc I really still new to all that.

    @PearlDreams, yeah I understand no seller will ever have 100% reviews, that's a myth if that ever existed. Mikimoto pearls I would be paying a premium for it. :X I was also looking at Tiffany & Co but there's really no additional information on their pearls, so I backed out. I will most likely be purchasing from one of the above online sellers. Your guide really helped me asked myself some questions!

    My girlfriend likes "dainty" jewelry..... So "larger" pearls wouldn't be the route that I can go for her first pearl necklace. What is the standard size for first pearl necklace? I've read that its around 7mm?

    Does the quality affect weight [Thicker nacre] considerably (AA+, AAA, Hanadama)?
    Comparison: 7mm (AA+), 7mm (AAA), 7mm (Hanadama) [Comparison of weight only | Not luster, visible abrasions, etc.]

    @KaySD, thanks for the input! That's what I was wondering about, the comparison in luster between individual sellers.

    Thanks in advance for everyone's input! Very helpful. Helping a guy in time of need for a special gift, haha!

  7. #7
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Sea Urchin's Avatar
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    Are you set on akoya pearls? Because you can get some very nice, large freshwater pearls for less and they're pure nacre, whereas the akoyas are nacre-coated shell beads and the nacre can wear off over time.

    Also, it seems like nearly everyone starts off with 7.5-8.0 mm pearls and soon no longer wear them because PSS (Pearl Shrinkage Syndrome- it's a lady thing) sets in and makes them seem too small.

    With your budget, I'd get this tasty top quality freshwater strand that will never be too small or wear out. This has some serious wow factor:

    http://www.pearlparadise.com/p-145-9...-necklace.aspx

    And the earrings, too:

    http://www.pearlparadise.com/p-163-1...-earrings.aspx

    There's a code on the site for a 15% discount until the end of February. Thems my two coppers! Please post pics of whatever you get. We love pics.

    P.S. From your list, I've bought online from Pearl Paradise, Pure Pearls, and Pearls of Joy and been pleased with all three. Pearl Paradise has a giant selection.
    Last edited by Sea Urchin; 02-22-2016 at 06:51 PM.

  8. #8
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Sea Urchin's Avatar
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    Here's a thread that shows the difference, on the second page where the woman is wearing three white strands. The two smaller strands are akoyas and the large one is the 9-9.5mm freshadama from Pearl Paradise that I suggested above.

    http://www.pearl-guide.com/forum/sho...ght=freshadama
    Last edited by Sea Urchin; 02-22-2016 at 07:22 PM.

  9. #9
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    By the way, Pearl Shrinkage Syndrome isn't anything that actually happens to pearls-- it's just a humorous way of saying that, as time goes by, we start wishing we'd bought larger pearls.

    The highest end freshwater pearls do give you the most bang for the buck: larger size for less money, and they are all nacre-- no bead inside. At Pearl Paradise this is called "Freshadama" pearls. At Pearls of Joy it's the "Gem Grade Freshwater"; at Pure Pearls it's "Elite Freshwater". These highest grade frehswaters are earring-grade pearls that were drilled for strands.

    Just be aware that they are not perfectly round (because of not having the bead inside) but they are close enough that they will look round when worn. Also, akoyas have a sharper luster than freshwater pearls. So one has to weigh the various aspects and choose.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicHorizon View Post
    @
    Does the quality affect weight [Thicker nacre] considerably (AA+, AAA, Hanadama)?
    Comparison: 7mm (AA+), 7mm (AAA), 7mm (Hanadama) [Comparison of weight only | Not luster, visible abrasions, etc.]
    I didn't see this answered.

    Quality and weight have no correlation whatsoever.

    I read once somewhere someone making the claim that thicker nacre meant a strand of pearls would weigh more, but this isn't the case at all. Except in the case of a carved pearl, the nucleus is composed of calcium carbonate, just like the nacre. The density is the same and the weight is (or is very close to) identical.

    Also, remember that every strand would have approximately XX number of pearls, give or take 1-2 depending on the size. This is because strands are composed of either half millimeter or full millimeter increments. A strand that is 7-7.5 mm has pearls from 7.51 mm to 7.99 millimeter. A 7.99 mm pearl will always weigh more than a 7.51 mm pearl, so even if thicker nacre did make pearls heavier, a strand would not be heavier based on nacre thickness, it would be based on relative size.

  11. #11
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert dkan 168's Avatar
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    In no particular order, I have purchased a gem-quality CFWPs from The Pearl Outlet, Pearl of Joy and Pearl Paradise.

    I had also purchased a number of other items from PP over the years.

    Jeremy personally helped me with a rush job and pulled a few strings for me when I needed it most back in 2008, for which I am very grateful to this day. Therefore, I guess I am kind of bias towards PP.

    DK
    Treat every life situation like a dog: if you can't play with it, eat it, or hump it, p1$$ on it and walk away

  12. #12
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    Thanks everyone for taking the time to answer my questions. I just ordered 7.0-7.5 mm White Akoya Pearl Necklace 18" AAA from PearlParadise. The reason for my choice is because she has a preference for "smaller" or "dainty" jewelry for everyday use. This also gives me an excuse to buy her bigger and nicer pearls in the following years if she so inclined to. I'm looking to get her a 8.0-8.5 mm Hanadama Akoya once she graduates from veterinary school. It would be a nice gift for when she becomes a doctor, and wearing that white coat.

    @Sea Urchin, the guide you provided and the link with the three strands of pearls helped a lot with my decision! Thanks!

    @jshepherd, thanks for answering the question on nacre thickness. It was just passing question on nacre thickness and weight. For violin bows, a difference in .01 grams means a world of difference in balance.

  13. #13
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicHorizon View Post
    ...My girlfriend likes "dainty" jewelry..... So "larger" pearls wouldn't be the route that I can go for her first pearl necklace. What is the standard size for first pearl necklace? I've read that its around 7mm?

    ...
    I think for younger or petite ladies, 7-7.5mm would be fine.
    Older ladies, and larger ladies, seem to look better with larger pearls IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by jshepherd View Post
    ... A strand that is 7-7.5 mm has pearls from 7.51 mm to 7.99 millimeter....
    Jeremy, did you mean to say a 7.5-8.0mm strand?



  14. #14
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
    Jeremy did you mean to say a 7.5-8.0mm strand?
    Yes. A 7-7.5 mm strand would have pearls ranging from 7.01-7.49 mm.

  15. #15
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    You have done well...they will be gorgeous and if she likes dainty..she likes dainty! As you pointed out...can always get a bigger strand at another time Well done..a very thoughtful present !

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