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How We Grade Our Freshwater Pearls


With freshwater pearls, the criteria that determine quality are size, shape, colour, lustre and surface quality. If the pearls are sold on a strand, the conformity within the strand is also considered. Generally, the value is increased with high lustre and few surface blemishes.


Pearl sizes are given in millimeters. In general, the larger the pearls, the higher the value, however, very small pearls carry a slightly increased relative value due to the increased labour.


A perfectly round pearl is very rare and even the roundest freshwater pearl is not completely spherical. The rounder the pearl, the higher the value. Other pearls shapes are valued by their conformity and influenced by market trends.


Pearls occur naturally in a wide variety of colours depending upon environmental factors where they are cultured. On this website, the pearls described as lavender, pink and peach are all natural colours. White pearls can be bleached or irradiated to create more even colour. Peacock pearls are also dyed.


The lustre, or brilliance, of a pearl, is the pearl’s shine and glow. You should be able to see your reflection clearly on the surface of a good quality pearl. The surface should appear bright with strong and sharp light reflections and a good contrast between the light and dark areas of the pearl.


When the mussel is creating the pearls, the layers of nacre do not always adhere uniformly and the surface will not be smooth. The pearl’s value will be affected by the prominence of the blemishes and the types of flaws.


Unfortunately, there is no universal grading system for pearls. This is further complicated by the fact that different standards are used to value different types of pearls.

For this website, the AAA-A system is utilized.

  • AAA - available in only half-drilled pearls (for this website); virtually flawless with excellent lustre.

  • AA - the pearl surfaces show a few insignificant blemishes and the surface has a very high lustre.

  • A - surface blemishes are easily seen and the pearl lustre is moderate.
  • How our freshwater pearls are graded