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How Lighing Affects Luster

Gemologists and appraisers normally grade pearls under standardized lighting conditions. When shopping for pearls, you will encounter various lighting situations. You need to understand, therefore, how lighting affects the appearance of pearls in order to avoid being misled.

The main thing to remember is the stronger and more direct the light, the more lustrous the pearls will look. Ask yourself:

• Is the lighting diffused? For example, is the light covered with a white shade? Is the light coming through curtains, clouds or translucent glass? Is it a fluorescent light instead of a bare bulb? The more diffused the light is, the lower the luster will appear to be. Bare lights or direct sunlight, on the other hand, will bring out the luster of pearls.

• How intense is the light? In the case of sunlight, is it early morning or midday? Midday sunlight will bring out the luster more. In the case of light bulbs, are they 60 watt or 150 watt? The higher the wattage, the more lustrous your pearls will look.

• How close is the light to the pearls? The further the light is from the pearls, the smaller and less intense the reflections become and the less the pearls seem to glow . If it's possible for you to carry or wear comparison strands of pearls, do so. You'll be able to compare known strands with unknown ones under equal lighting conditions, and it will be easier for you to tell the effect of the lighting on both.


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