Acceptable level of inclusions in gem grade pearls


Aug 31, 2020
Hello, and thank you for all of the helpful information I have found here over the past two weeks!

I recently bought my first pearls - a set of necklace, earrings, and bracelet - and they are stunning. I love the luster, the color, (the online vendor chose perfectly!!!), the uniform roundness of the pearls (they seem perfect), the size (I was afraid that I would regret choosing 7.5-8mm after reading about PSS :) ), the length of the necklace (18") and the bracelet (7").

One question I have is how many inclusions are acceptable in a necklace of gem grade pearls? Two of the pearls have a tiny opaque light-colored dot, and two have a very faint hairline mark (or scratch?). (The bracelet and earrings are, to my eyes, perfect.) There might be one very, very, faint and short ripple in another.

Perhaps it is simply impossible to have absolute perfection, and perhaps it is a reminder that pearls are natural (plastic would be perfect!), but I do wonder if I am overreacting by noticing these, or underreacting by being inclined to not return them anyway, since I do find them to be absolutely stunning. (And still in awe that I can see how many fingers I'm holding up reflected in the pearls!)

(I even stopped by Macy's today to just take a look at their pearls. I was surprised to see how not-uniform the pearls I saw were, in terms of shape. And lot of the pearls looked kind of squashed.)

Since I would like to buy a few more pieces of pearl jewelry - a rope long enough to wear knotted or tripled, and a triple-strand bracelet for starters - I'm wondering if I should buy again from this vendor, if this is basically what one can expect, or if another vendor would have even better quality.

(One of the pearls with the dot inclusion can be seen in the photo with the green background. The other photos are just to show how beautiful - to my eyes! the pearls are. :) )

Thank you all for any advice!
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Hi Solsort,

Congratulations on your first pearls!

I didn't download your photos, but if you are not 100% satisfied with the pearls, it's best to exchange them, communicating clearly with your vendor about what you would like. This is what return policies are for. If the little flaws bother you now, they will probably continue to do so.

Here is how to upload photos so that people can see them right on the thread:
The icon for photos is the square icon in the toolbar, with a tiny image of a tree. Click on that. Select where to upload your photo from, "choose file" and then click "upload file(s)".
Thank you, Pearl Dreams!

I'm still on the fence about dealing with a return, but I'll decide in a day or so.

And thank you so much for the information about how to link the photos!
For what it's worth, the gem fwp necklace I bought in 2007 was not perfect. There was a small flaw but as it was near the drill hole and didn't affect the beauty of the necklace, I let it go. Only you know if the flaws will continue to bother you.



I had to reshoot the photos, but the top one is just to show the beauty of the necklace, the middle one shows the beauty and one of the two pearls with an inclusion, and the bottom photo shows the inclusion in the middle pearl. (That pearl, with the largest inclusion, is the 13th pearl from the clasp.)

I don't even know what the overtone is, but I'm happy with the color, and it also looks good with black, which is what I wear 95% of the time.
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Pearls are organic, so there won't be a strand with every pearl 100% perfect, including gem grade. Even Hanadama pearls have small flaws, just fewer and less noticeable. However, I am with you on being disappointed. I have often been a little upset that I didn't get perfection, only to realize that someone would have to examine me at an uncomfortably close distance to see a flaw.

I would suggest enjoying them for a few days before you make your decision. You could end up with a new strand with perfect surface, but slightly less luster. A strand is graded as a whole for all attributes, so the necklace you have now has rounder pearls and better luster. Luster is what it's all about in my mind! :)

We all go through this, so please feel a part of the group. :)

Thank you, Blaire! :) :) :) Now I just have to wait for PSS to strike. (I'm already eyeing pearls I didn't even know about before.)

Yes, I've been thinking, what if I had a necklace of pearls with no visible inclusions, but the luster and roundness and flattering tone were a little less so? I know I wouldn't be happy. Also, to have a whole set where these are the only flaws is pretty incredible to me.

And something about that inclusion says to me, "yes, I am a pearl". ;)
Solsort, there is one other suggestion: Ask your vendor if it might be possible to have them replace those 2 - 3 pearls that are bothering you. The replacements would need to be well matched to the necklace, and may incur an additional charge to you, but it is sometimes another way to keep a necklace you really seem to love, and yet address that one little quirk. I will say the necklace is gorgeous, and I'm hard pressed to the the flaws ... so I agree with Blair, wear it for a bit and see if it still bothers you; you may begin to love those tiny individualities nature has grown just for you.
Solsort, the size you chose is a classic that you will enjoy for many years. PSS means you'll feel the need to add some size variety, and of course, you'll need some other colors... This is how you become a collector! Even if you decide later that you like larger pearls, you'll need the smaller strand to attach enhancer pendants. Ask, and you'll find that a lot of people have a collection of enhancers. :)
Thank you, Cathy and GemGeek! Those are some excellent options to keep in mind.

Well, yesterday I just wore the pearls instead of staring at them in the box. I had tried them on, but was hesitant to really wear them, in case I had to return them. I guess I was thinking of them the way I would a dress or shoes, where I wouldn't wear it for a few hours unless I was absolutely certain. But because of the price, I was definitely scrutinizing them for flaws!

The result was I fell in love with them, and even more deeply than that first impact when I had tried them on. I fell in love with the pearls themselves, but especially with how they looked on me. Every time I glanced at them, I thought wow! , and in the end, they just feel like me. I was looking for pearls I'd be thrilled to wear every day, and that's what I have, so now I'm officially permitting myself to just enjoy them. ;)

It might be goofy, especially because I'm just working from home, but I can't wait to wear them again today.

Thank you everyone, for your advice and encouragement!
Solsort, that's happened to every one of us :). You open that box, you think about the money, you sometimes ask questions ... and then you are tempted to "just wear them for a bit ..." and then ... you can't take them off, and you find they look perfectly fine with ... pajamas LOL. Enjoy!
Oh my! That is exactly what I am doing!!! In my pajamas, wearing my pearls! (And it's amazing how they elevate everything!) I wore them all day long, and I am so happy.
Wonderful. Pretty pearls and I’m so glad you are enjoying the wearing of them.

I find that often it takes some time to warm up to a new strand of pearls that you have not picked out yourself in person. The image that you had in your head is not what you actually see in the box. But, in time, you learn to love the pearls that you have, and if, after time, you still don’t like them, then it is time to send them back. But often, beautiful pearls will work their magic.
Oh, how true and beautifully put, Red!!! And these have definitely worked their magic on me. I have worn them every single day (necklace, earrings, and bracelet) for a week now! Today, I didn't wear them, and it feels odd, but I figured I would let them rest. ;)
So so true. I've opened many a box of pearls and thought, Meh. Then I tried them on and they came alive on my skin, or next to my clothing. It made a huge difference. Then looking at them in different light and at different times of day.

If any flaw jumped out at my while wearing them, they went back. But many flaws were only noticeable when in my hand under a magnifier. Nobody else will view my pearls like that.