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  1. #1
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert battah's Avatar
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    Default Pearl measurement question

    This may be a dumb question. I seem to recall reading in multiple places, a few years ago, that pearls are measured along the drill hole. But recently I read somewhere that they're measured perpendicular to the drill hole. Depending on the shape of the pearl, that can be a pretty big difference. Can one of the experts please clarify for me?
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  2. #2
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Perpendicular to the drill hole is standard. If in doubt about what your vendor means by the measurements, ask.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    That's correct. If the pearls are undrilled baroques, they are measured at their widest points. Drilled pearls are always measured perpendicular to the drill hole. It's rare, but I have seen people (possibly unintentionally) giving diameter like, "measures 8 mm by 13 mm" to a strand of Tahitian pearls when they are referring to length in the second measurement, even of the strand is actually 8-9 or 8-10 mm.





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  4. #4
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    I concur...always perpendicular to the drill hole (or where the drill hole should be in an undrilled pearl)
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  6. #6
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert battah's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, friends. This is so strange, I wonder who told me that when I first started learning about pearls... glad to be corrected!
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  7. #7
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    I will also say, that sometimes with a drop shape or flame ball pearl, it is helpful to state the overall length to provide context. I
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  8. #8
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    I often give length of a drop pearl because lay people don't know how pearls are measured and will either think the pearl is much smaller than it is, or will ask anyway

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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  10. #10
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Thanks Jeremy, for the pearl measurement law. I also had my doubts about how to measure pearls.

  11. #11

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    It's not a dumb question! If only the Chinese played by the rules.... They seem to think that "Chinese size" is acceptable. They always round up by a mm or more. Caveat emptor!

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    The worst "Chinese size" in material sizing, in my opinion. There is no longer a 7-8 mm freshwater pearl strand. Pearls sold at 7-8 mm are actually 6.5-7.5 and nearly all the pearls are in the 6.5-7 mm range with just a few larger than 7 mm.

    That's one of the easiest ways, in my opinion, to distinguish between sellers of fine freshwater pearls and commercial grade.




    Jeremy Shepherd
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  13. #13
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    The CIBJO rules (not law surely?) are a guidance only. An industry body setting a guidance standard.
    One glaring omission is that it does not specify the exactness of the measurements. none/one/two decimal places. Metric or imperial
    And rounding down instead of up. Normal mathematical and scientific practice is down for below 0.5 up for 0.5-0.9

  14. #14
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    The CIBJO blue books are accepted as global standards by all member nations and their organizations. That includes the UK and the USA. In the states, the FTC and JVC follow and enforce those standards.





    Jeremy Shepherd
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    Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

  15. #15

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    The "Chinese size" issue is a major problem in our industry. It is one of the elephants in the room that no one likes to discuss.... but here goes... As a company we measure every pearl we sell and describe it accurately. Many pearl dealers - you know who you are - sell using the sizing that the Chinese adopt. In my opinion using those sizes is nothing more than theft or deception at best. You think it gives you a commercial advantage - and in some cases your deception works. But a little warning here .... one major chain store in Europe that I know recently started to actually measure the deliveries they received.... suffice to say my competitor just lost the whole account ..... The moral of the story is always measure your pearls!

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