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Judging Pearl Color

When deciding what color pearls to buy, your primary concern should be what looks best on you, But you will also want to know how the color affects their price.

The overall body color can play a significant role in determining the price of Akoya pearls. Five main body color categories for pearls are:

Light pink (pink): Usually the highest price category, but some dealers price light pink and white pearls alike. A few dealers make a distinction between pearls with subtle pink tints and those that look artificial and obviously dyed. They may refuse to stock the latter. Incidentally, jewelers often have no way of knowing if their pink pearls are dyed because suppliers are not required to disclose this. Naturally¬colored pink pearls, however, typically have a light pink rather than a pink body color.

White: Equal to or less than pearls with a light pink body color. Some people in the trade have a negative view of "white pearls" because they associate them with the very thin-nacre pearls that look milky white and have no overtone. It's not the white body color that makes these pearls appear low-quality; it's the absence of overtones, . Lustrous, valuable pearls normally have silver or pink overtones.

Light Cream: Usually cost less than white. The higher the quality of the pearls, the greater the price difference will probably be between light cream and white. In low qualities, there may be no difference.

Cream: Usually cost less than light cream. In cream colors, the general tendency is the
Iridescence:   A play of lustrous colors. They may be like those of the rainbow, or they may be a subtle combination of colors such as pink, blue, green and silver. The colors of the pearls change when you move them in your hand. Orient is another term that is used to refer to pearl iridescence. In a handout from their pearl grading course, the GIA specifies that "orient has 6 colors: violet, blue, red, green, yellow, orange, all the
colors of the rainbow. " Some dealers, however, employ the term more loosely to also mean a combination of overtone colors.

Other dealers and many books written in the past use the term "orient" to refer to luster because iridescence and luster are interconnected. Since "orient" may be interpreted in various ways, this book tends to use the term "iridescence" instead.

Other dealers and many books written in the past use the term "orient" to refer to luster because iridescence and luster are interconnected. Since "orient" may be interpreted in various ways, this book tends to use the term "iridescence" instead.

When you shop for pearls, you may come across terms such as white rose. This means white pearls with a pink overtone. "Ross" is the French word for pink. Pink rose means that most of the pearls have a light pink body color and a pink overtone. White pearls with a silver overtone may be described as silver(y) white. Often salespeople don't specify the overtone but they just say one color such as "pink" which describes their overall impression of the pearls.
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