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  1. #1

    Question Advice for purchasing pearls and where from?

    Hello All,

    I'm looking for a present for my Girlfriend, I've looked at different on line sites but has anyone used the following:

    https://www.thepearlsource.co.uk
    www.pearlsonly.co.uk

    I've also seen this:

    https://www.pearlsofjoy.com/White-Ge...0mm_p_243.html

    I've seen that some people of recommended pearls if joy.

    With the above does "Gem Grade" mean the highest?

    Also what would people recommend as an acceptable compromise, either slightly smaller eg 6-7 mm but better quality eg AAAA or slightly bigger 7-mm but only AA or AAA quality?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Gavin

  2. #2
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Hi Gavin,

    Lucky girlfriend to be getting pearls!

    "Gem grade" is the highest quality for each type of pearl (freshwater, akoya etc.)

    Different vendors have their own names for their top-of-the-line freshwater pearls. I've seen gem grade, elite, presidential, Freshadama and I'm sure there are more. Whatever they are called, they are loose grade pearls, which would normally be left undrilled by the factory in China, to be later set as earrings, rings, brooches etc-- but instead, they have been drilled and strung as strands. They are more lustrous, more nearly round, and have a cleaner surface than AAA pearls.

    Now, as to AAA or AAAA or AAAAA -- the usual grading scale in the industry is A-AAA. Some vendors use a grading scale of A-AAAA but this is a basically just marketing, the implication being that their AAAA pearls are better than someone else's AAA. In fact, unlike diamonds, there is no universal standard for grading pearls-- each vendor can grade as they see fit. One vendor's AAA may be only as good as another vendor's AA+ . You should examine the website of each vendor and find a page that describes just what each grade means. If there is no such page, then you really have no idea what you will be getting.

    This is where a problem-free return policy matters, in case you or your girlfriend decide the item isn't exactly right for you. I would beware of vendors that make you jump through hoops to return something you bought. Read their return policies before buying.

    I have personally bought from Pearls of Joy (also Pearl Paradise and Pure Pearls) and am happy with what was sent. I have not bought personally from the other vendors you mentioned so can't recommend.

    Now, as to quality and size...
    I say always buy the best quality you can for your budget. As I said, vendors differ in how they grade, but within the website of any given vendor, there will be higher and lower graded pearls. Go for the better ones if you can. What is a pearl if not very lustrous? Also, when buying freshwater pearls, most have no bead inside (unlike akoya pearls)-- so they will not be 100% round. The higher the grade, the more nearly round they will appear.

    As to size, people differ in what they want. A younger and more petite woman might find smaller pearls proportional and flattering, and someone who wears high necklines might want a short, petite strand that fits into the neckline. An older or not-so-petite woman might feel that larger pearls are more flattering and more proportional.

    There is something we refer to tongue-in-cheek as Pearl Shrinkage Syndrome: we ladies seem to like larger and larger pearls as time goes on. So if funds allow, and you can still get high quality, go for a bit larger rather than a bit smaller.
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 12-01-2017 at 04:52 PM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    I just want to add this: you would be surprised at how much difference 1 mm can make.

    When you look at a photo of a pearl, you see a flat circle-- but the actual pearl is a sphere; 3-dimensional.
    A pearl that is 1mm larger is 1mm larger all over-- from the center of the pearl outward. The volume of a pearl increases rapidly with even a small increase in diameter. It's simple math.

    This means you can get a significantly larger necklace without a big increase in price by only going up by a small amount in mm size. The big price jump doesn't occur until you get to 8mm+.

    Have a look at this before deciding on the size of the strand:
    http://www.pearl-guide.com/forum/sho...er-really-make
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 12-01-2017 at 05:15 PM.

  4. #4

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    Hi Pearl Dreams,

    Thank you your advice it was very helpful, she is small size 6 (UK) so I'm thinking 6-7 but the best quality I can get.

    Regards

    Gavin

  5. #5
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    I absolutely concur with the advice Pearl Dreams has given you. When looking for a strand, it is best to see photos of 2-3 different strands you can choose from. Also make sure to request photos of the strands in different lighting (natural, shaded natural, artificial, shaded artificial). I would also ask that they show a close up of 3-5 pearls toward the center of the strand. When looking at the pearls, notice their color and textures. Is the color even (you will see subtle variations, but should not see dramatic differences)? What about the luster? Look into the photo and see the surface of the pearl. Are there objects being reflected back onto its surface? Can you identify those objects (adjacent pearls, texture from surfaces, reflection of the camera). Does the light appear as a pinpoint with sharp definition, or does it appear more like a burst with fuzzy edges?

    I have attached a photo of a tahitian pearl that has excellent luster. You can see reflections of my living room, as well as my hand holding my iPhone. Name:  IMG_6730.jpg
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    Etsy shop: OceansCove
    Instagram: OceansCove
    Facebook: Ocean's Cove Jewelry
    Amazon Handmade: Ocean's Cove
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  6. #6
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Following up on that thought, Gavin, a 6.5-7.0mm necklace will be larger overall-- will have a higher per cent of larger pearls-- than a 6.0-7.0mm necklace. The sizes will be more nearly the same-- less graduation, as the largest pearls tend to be placed in the center of the strand and the smallest on the ends.

    And yes, I agree with JerseyPearl-- ask for side by side photos of several strands and pick the one you like best.
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 12-02-2017 at 06:59 PM.

  7. #7

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    Hi Pearl Dreams & JerseyPearl,

    Thank you both for your advice I've requested photos so hopefully they'll arrive tomorrow so I can purchase them.

  8. #8
    Administrator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Kevin Canning's Avatar
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    Hey Gavin -- I'll chime in since you mentioned my company.

    When I refer and label pearls "gem grade", that describes pearls that are typically reserved for earrings, rings and pendants -- what we'd call "loose grade" on the wholesale end. In the past these would be pearls considered too high quality to be used in strands.

    I work with a producer in Asia that matches these into strands for us.

    So unless the company you're dealing with is matching "loose grade" pearls into strands, they won't be the same. Regardless if they call them AAAA, AAAA+ or what have you.

    Truth is there is no standard grading in the industry, it makes it near impossible to compare apples to apples.
    Kevin Canning
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  9. #9

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    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for that, I've made the purchase already.

    This is my first purchase of pearls so I can assume that they would be better quality than other set described as AAAA or AAA+ etc?

  10. #10
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    We'd love to see photos of them when they arrive! If you bought gem grade pearls you got the best.

    The luster of pearls is best seen against a white background, but pearls are often shipped in boxes with a black velvet interior-- so when you get them, take them out of the box to look at them. (Many of us have felt underwhelmed at first sight of our pearls while they were still in their boxes due to the black velvet effect.)

  11. #11
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member ericw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Canning View Post
    Hey Gavin -- I'll chime in since you mentioned my company.

    When I refer and label pearls "gem grade", that describes pearls that are typically reserved for earrings, rings and pendants -- what we'd call "loose grade" on the wholesale end. In the past these would be pearls considered too high quality to be used in strands.

    I work with a producer in Asia that matches these into strands for us.

    So unless the company you're dealing with is matching "loose grade" pearls into strands, they won't be the same. Regardless if they call them AAAA, AAAA+ or what have you.

    Truth is there is no standard grading in the industry, it makes it near impossible to compare apples to apples.
    Hi Kevin. About grades "relativity", it would not be very difficult to build an instrument to measure amount of light scattered by a pearl, compared to the direct reflected beam, that to establish a reliable scale measuring real lustre of the pearls.
    Last edited by ericw; Yesterday at 11:43 AM.

  12. #12
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    Pearls may look dull when they arrive because there is a very fine mist of condensation on them if they are cold then taken out into a warm room.
    That's why we use bamboo tweezers to handle when matching btw

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