Type of Pearls and Pearl Value
South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are considered the most valuable. They are bigger than other types of pearls, generally 10 mm to 15 mm. Some are even bigger – over 20 mm – and some, called baby pearls, are smaller than 10 mm. These pearls, created by South Sea saltwater oysters, take two to four years to form, and have beautiful, unique luster and gorgeous colours, from white, silver, blue or aqua to cream, champagne and deep gold. Only about 30 percent of all South Sea pearls are round so they have more value than the drop-shape or baroque.
Tahitian pearls are sometimes called “black pearls” but they are not black at all. The main colour is deep blue, purple, green, reddish-brown, charcoal or silver. The most valuable are dark green with peacock overtones. A small percentage of harvested pearls is round, and the rest are near round or baroque. Tahitian pearls have a soft, satin luster.
Saltwater Akoya pearls are cultured on pearl farms and traditionally used in necklaces and other types of classic jewellery. They are the smallest of all the cultured pearls, 7 mm on average, and usually round. Most of them are white or silver, with pink, green, or silver overtones. Akoya pearls are not as valuable as South Sea or Tahitian type but more expensive than freshwater pearls.
Freshwater pearls are the most commonly produced pearls and the least expensive. Each mussel can produce multiple pearls at a time and it takes 2-3 years to develop them. They are beautiful and affordable which makes them quite popular. Freshwater cultured pearls come in many natural pastel colours as well as many shapes and sizes, from tiny seed pearls – 1 mm to 2mm – to over 15 mm.
Pearls come in different sizes, shapes and colours, can have a deep, inner glow, bright, mirror-like luster or a more satiny look. They may have thin nacre that will eventually peel, and chalky appearance, spots or blemishes that reduce their value. Other factors considered are the symmetry of shape and matching quality. In a nutshell, the bigger they are and the cleaner and shinier the surface, the higher the value – but it’s not that simple.
Determining value of a pearl takes skill and experience. Each pearl we sell is handpicked and checked for the finest quality by VAYO experts who are certified by The Cultured Pearl Association of America.