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Grade variation within a strand

cookierookie

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 22, 2012
Messages
119
It;s never occurred to me to do that, and I would have swapped out any duff pearls without thinking about it. And without increasing the price. Why would the price go up for maintaining the stated grade?

If a seller has intentionally used some inferior pearls, he/she would have accounted for the cost of these lower grade pearls in the pricing of the necklace; now if asked to swap them out for better pearls, and the pearls jump a grade higher, that means that his/her cost would also have gone up, therefore driving an increase to the price. It also depends on how strict a seller is with their grading. If they have worked to a customer's budget, and added some not-so-great pearls in less obvious areas to meet the budget, that could be acceptable to some buyers -- bearing in mind that this is a custom-made strand.
 

pearlescence

purveyor of pearls
Joined
Aug 18, 2007
Messages
3,841
It isn't a matter of pricing, it is a matter of being honest with your buyers. If you list a strand as AAA then every pearl must be AAA. You can't bung in some AAs and charge less...well you can of course, if you want to, but I would not
How would you describe such a strand? @Most are AAA but we bunged in some AAs we had around to make the strand cheaper - this was done at the customer's request'?
And it isn't going to make the strand appreciably cheaper either, just a ? or so. Not even worth the effort.
And a customer's friends aren't going to be told that the customer wanted some duff pearls in the necklace, they will think you put them in there yourself...there goes your reputation instantly
I would not do it. Sounds like a very odd way to go about things.
 

cookierookie

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 22, 2012
Messages
119
It isn't a matter of pricing, it is a matter of being honest with your buyers. If you list a strand as AAA then every pearl must be AAA. You can't bung in some AAs and charge less...well you can of course, if you want to, but I would not
How would you describe such a strand? @Most are AAA but we bunged in some AAs we had around to make the strand cheaper - this was done at the customer's request'?
And it isn't going to make the strand appreciably cheaper either, just a ? or so. Not even worth the effort.
And a customer's friends aren't going to be told that the customer wanted some duff pearls in the necklace, they will think you put them in there yourself...there goes your reputation instantly
I would not do it. Sounds like a very odd way to go about things.

Odd as it may sound, with custom-made strands, comes all sorts of requests. It's no longer up to the seller to say this is an A grade strand, or a B or C grade strand. It's based on what the buyer is happy with, what suits their pockets. Sellers can advise on what to go with, but it isn't necessarily heeded. And the difference in price wouldn't be one pound or so if they were SSPs, for example, and the grade jump was from C to B, and the pearls were a good size like 13mm. If there were as many as 6 duff pearls (3 on each side) that were swapped out, it would indeed increase the price. Not by a lot of course, but still a noticeable increase.

I think with custom-made strands, buyers need to really know and be firm with what they want, and stick to it. If a seller is putting in some inferior pearls to meet a buyer's budget, of course that has to be explained, and then it is the buyer's choice to accept or not.

If you were a buyer that wants something custom-made to a specific budget, would you mind if a necklace of 35 SSPs appeared as B grade (blemishes hidden in the setting) from the front, and only 6 pearls at the back are C grade (with good lustre but more blemishes which are still hidden sort of well enough in the setting)? Or would you think that they would be unnoticeable anyway because no one will likely be looking that closely down the back of your neck?
 

Sutrisno

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Messages
57
I find the replies by our pg sellers very informative. That is one 'simply complex' question naria. Awesome.
 

jshepherd

Natural Pearl
Joined
Jun 22, 2004
Messages
5,663
I think it really comes down to what one considers a "duff" pearl. A 'D' pearl mixed in with an 'A/B' strand? Anyone dealing in South Sea and Tahitians knows that the pearls in a strand will vary in quality unless the strand is a true AAA or top gem. Pearls that go into strands are sold in large lots to large dealers and pearl houses primarily in Japan, where most often the top grade is selected out and the rest is used as necklace material. If the lot is composed of A/B/C pearls, there will be pearls in the resulting strands that (A grade) may have drilled clean going from A to B, and (B grade) having some light surface blemishing and (C grade) others that may have a deep inclusion. When creating a strand that is going to have inclusions, the first factor has to be the color and shape matching, unless the lot has tens of thousands of pearls in it or has been separated first into the processors subjective selection.

Then there are strands that are composed of C/D lots - the most popular lots at many auctions because these goes straight into commercial-grade strands. There is still a market for the C and D grade, as many if not most of the strands sold at shows such as the Hong Kong show are composed of C and D grade, which are the most prevalent grades produced.

The responsibility is on the wholesale buyer to do the strand selection and select for their own customers. It isn't feasible for most sellers to go through each strand and remove pearls that they feel fall into C when most of the pearls are B because they would never have the amount of loose pearls available to appropriately match in a bunch of replacement pearls. They would be lowering the value of the strand if they tried, because matching is an important value factor.

I am only referring to South Sea and Tahitians here. With freshwater and akoya, it's relatively simple to spot pearls that need to be removed depending upon the grade you are offering the strand.
 

Caitlin

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2004
Messages
8,582
I gave this thread a 5 star rating and made it a sticky so people can read it easily. It is a really useful thread!
 

pearlsusie

Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
7
Interesting thread, especially DaveTT's initial response on description of grading within the AAA-A scale. I am a buyer, designer, reseller, so my comments are from that viewpoint:

I have sourced and bought many strands from a number of sellers, mainly wholesale, and most all of the strands had significant variations in strands. Granted, I buy on the lower end of the scale, AA-A (or A-C on the Tahitian scale) since I typically mix pearls and other media. I always have to pick, and what is left are usually pearls that might be usable within busier designs where the imperfections aren't as obvious, or I simply don't use them. I have seen strands where only half the strand is usable, and strands where the seller grading is AA (with price to match) that was clearly A (or below!). I have spent so much time sending samples back when they don't meet my expectations. Pearl grading is subjective, but from a designer point of view, pits, rings and low luster are unacceptable if you're looking for a relatively smooth pearl with medium-high luster, even if it isn't round.

What I don't like is that there are so many wholesalers and resellers of pearl strands that sell low quality strands that should have been flagged as D-grade / low quality, then I wouldn't bother.

I would appreciate it if others in this thread can list a number of wholesalers that you feel offer consistent quality to mid-range designers at reasonable prices. I have my list, but would like to compare. (Note: I normally design with cultured freshwater pearls.)
 
Last edited:

xiashang

New Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2012
Messages
1
Obviously, pearl sellers vary substantially on grading philosophy (what makes an AA/AAA ect), but is there an industry norm how the seller's subjective classification applies to a strand of variable quality?
 

sinju

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
61
in my experience deal with buyer from worldwide, we make a simple grading.
for wholesale pearl, we do not have AAA, or AA, we only have, A Grade, B Grade, C Grade, D Grade we put in low grade. D,E,F etc....

some of my buyer will accept A grade if the spot on the pearl only one, some of my buyer will not accept that as A grade, why buyer accept one spot as A grade, since if you hole the pearl the hole will gone. short, in wholesale the grade is, A,B,C and Low grade. Round pearl and Good Shape.

hope this can help you
 

pearl-man

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
266
The compilation of these professional comments adds up to the fact and the practice of most dealers, like myself. I've been selling person to person wholesale for 40 years and the A-AAA or maybe add AAA+ is common and used often where the rub comes in is one persons AA is another persons AAA. At one time that was the big mess in GIA diamond grading. There are always opinions of quality. Thats life.
 

Caitlin

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2004
Messages
8,582
Comparing one company's AA with another's may vary as this thread has said. One thing has not been said yet, and that is that all pearl grading systems run on a continuum from the worst to the best. So, within each grade, no matter how the grade is sliced out of the continuum, there will also be a continuum from the worst examples of the grade to the best. Then, a necklace will be made from pearls within its own continuum. This matters the most in the AAA grade, because the best of the AAA grade is usually sold as being earring quality or gem quality. This gem grade is the top chosen % of the AAA continuum.

Also, it may only be a few few better pearls that makes the difference between AA's top and AAA's bottom. That's why some pearls are called AA+ They are AA with a few more AAA individual pearls in there.

If you can look at a seller's top grade best pearls and tell if they are not really top pearls, compared to a known line- Say Pearl Paradise's, then that seller is setting his entire continuum lower. You will not find the absolute top freshwaters sold on Ebay as a rule. So, if the seller calls something AAAA, it probably would barely make AAA on PP's scale, so call almost any Chinese pearls on Ebay AA+ at the very best, and go down from there. (the exception being if the luster is fabulous. In that case, other factors may be AA or so, but it doesn't matter, if you are a luster freak.)
 
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