Value Factors

The value of the pearls is determined by a combination of the lustre, color, size, lack of surface flaw and symmetry that are appropriate for the type of pearl under consideration. Among those attributes, lustre is the most important differentiator of pearl quality. All factors being equal, however, the larger the pearl the more valuable it is. Large perfectly round pearls are rare and highly valued.


A pearl’s luster sets its apart from all other gems. Pearl luster is an intense glow emanating from within the pearl as a result of good nacre quality. Pearls with thicker nacre have higher luster. Good quality pearls will be bright and not dull, and the surface should be reflective.

Pearl Size

Cultured pearls are measured in millimeters. Pearls are measured in diameter if round and length and width if off-round. The larger the pearl size, the more valuable the pearl.


Although pearl shapes vary, each shape has qualities that help determine its value. Generally, the rounder the pearl, the more valuable it is.


The number, nature, and location of surface characteristics can affect the value of any pearl. A valuable pearl will have a surface free of disfiguring spots, bumps or cracks.


Cultured pearls display a broad palette of subtle hues, ranging from warm hues like yellow, orange, and pink to cool ones like blues, green, and violet. Fine pearl color can be any color that appeals to consumers.

In addition to the traditional white body color, freshwater pearls come in a rainbow of natural colors as brilliant as lavender, tangerine, mauve, aqua-silver, peach, and a variety of shades in between. All other colors of freshwater pearls have been commercially dyed to suit color trends.

Pearl Nacre

Nacre is the natural substance that the mollusk secretes to protect its sensitive flesh from irritants such as shell fragments or implanted beads. This is the same beautiful iridescent material that lines the inner surface of the oyster shells, aptly named mother-of-pearl. As a rule, the thicker the nacre, the higher quality the pearl is.