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Price Factors

Compared with saltwater pearls, freshwater pearls have more variable grading. However, an agreement on certain value factors is reached. Freshwater pearls are usually valued on the basis of the following criterions:

LUSTER:

The value of a pearl depends on its luster. The higher and more even the luster, the greater the value. A lay person may regard low-quality freshwater pearls as lustrous due to part of their shiny surface. Nevertheless, some pearls are considered to have a low luster because some areas of them look milky, chalky and dull. If the freshwater pearls are high quality, their luster must be evenly distribution and the contrast between their light and dark areas must be high.

For judging the luster of freshwater pearls, they are examined on a white background and rolled in order to show their entire surface area. And if it is possible, you can compare strands of different qualities. What is important is that you eyes must be sensitive enough to luster variations on account of luster, one of the most important determinants of value in pearls of all types.

SMOOTHNESS:

A smoother pearl generally owns a relative high value. Some freshwater pearls have a lower value because of their bumpy, wrinkled surfaces. However, the bumps and wrinkles are not flaws. Therefore, smoothness is treated as a separate category from surface perfection.

Because the upper strand is very wrinkled, it is worth less than the lower strand with the smoother pearls.

SIZE/WEIGHT:

As a factor to evaluate pearls' value, the size is not as important as luster and surface quality. Freshwater pearl prices are generally quoted by weight or by the strand. At the retail level, the most common unit of weight probably is gram, and some dealers tend to quote prices according to carat weight. Suppliers of large quantities of pearls may use the momme (3.75 grams or 18.75 carats). The size of round freshwater pearls may be expressed by their diameter, measured in millimeters.

SHAPE:

Usually, if a pearl is more round, its value is greater. And good symmetry can contribute to a higher value. Besides, fatter-looking shapes are inclined to sell for more than thin shapes. Baroque shape is the lowest priced shape, and most freshwater pearls belong to it. Baroque shapes, with large high-quality, is worth high prices and can make distinctive jewelry piece. Since 1992, a lot of semi-round and ovalish freshwater pearls have become available.

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