Pearl Matching

Pearl Matching Defined
  • Pearl matching is evaluation of the complete appearance of a pearl strand, pair or multi-pearl piece of jewelry.
  • Matching can encompass size, color, and quality. A well-matched strand is composed of pearls that complement each pearl above and below, and directly across as the strand drapes.
The Difficulty in Pearl Matching: No two Pearls are Alike
  • Because pearls are natural, organic gems, no two of them are identical. Therefore, when a piece of jewelry contains more than one pearl, some effort must be taken to ensure that the pearls match in an aesthetically pleasing fashion.
  • Some varieties of pearls -of course- are more difficult to match than others. For instance, Akoya pearls are easier to match than South Seas and Tahitian pearls and Cortez pearls are known for being exceedingly difficult to match.
  • Why is this? Pearl processing has something to do with it, since more pearls end up looking more similar after the polishing and bleaching process. Most South Sea and Tahitian pearls are never processed; thus, their pearls retain their true uniqueness.
A well-matched Golden South Seas pearl necklace
  • Another reason has to do with the quantity of pearl produced every year: if you produce 40 tons of Akoya pearls you have a much greater opportunity at matching than if you have 7 tons of Tahitian pearls or the 4 Kilos of Cortez pearls.
  • The rarer the pearls are, the harder it becomes to match them; thus, it may be considered acceptable to have greater difference (less matching) items with these pearls. The same goes for natural pearls. And also: you must consider that the value of the item will increase accordingly, the better matched it is.
Cortez Pearl Necklace Mar Bermejo from the 2018 harvest
Cortez Pearl Necklace "Mar Bermejo" from the 2018 harvest. Notice how this multi-colored pearl strand is symmetrically matched in color. Photo courtesy of "Perlas del Mar de Cortez" & photographed by Guillermo Soberón Tirado.

Pearl Matching is about Fitting Together
  • The term "Matching" here, does not mean that all the pearls in a given piece are identical: that would be impossible! Nor does it even mean that all the pearls in the piece are generally uniform in size, shape, and color.
  • It means that all the pearls "fit together" in a pleasing manner, and that variations among them are either minimal, gradual, or for a specific purpose.

Pearl Matching Uses Differences to make the Piece
  • For example, a long strand of pearls may have a large pearl at the center, with pearls which gradually become smaller along either side.
  • Or a strand may consist of pearls in alternating or gradually changing colors. In either of these examples, the pearls are considered well matched if the resulting piece is uniform and consistent, rather than haphazard looking.
  • A recent movement towards matching is actually the opposite of matching, and this can be seen in baroque pearl strands or in South Sea and Tahitian pieces that have been dubbed as "Harvest strands" and that are uniquely beautiful in their own way.
Kamoka Harvest strand showing pearls typically found in any given harvest

The pearls on this one-of-a-kind "harvest strand" represent what can be found in a Tahitian pearl harvest, from a 5 mm keshi pearl to 9 mm deep blue-green round to a shimmery silver-white baroque and stunning, true golden 13.5 mm centerpiece. Photo and information by

Pearl Matching on Smaller Pieces is the Same
  • In the same way, pearl earrings, bracelets, pendants, rings, etc. any piece that contains more than a single pearl are generally matched to achieve greater beauty and value.
  • If the piece consists of contrasting colors (such as a two-pearl, black-and-white ring), the matching will consider the size, shape, and luster of the respective pearls, even though their colors are quite different.
Pearl Matching is an Art
A good harvest is determined by the number of marketable pearls produced in relation to the number of oysters that were nucleated. The percentage of pearls that are considered high-quality will determine the success of the enterprise. On average, only half of the pearls will be marketable, and about 5% of these will be considered top-quality.

Related Articles and Forum Threads:
Last edited by a moderator: