Pearl Price factors
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Sometimes additional categories are added for evaluating shape. For example, the sub-categories of "mostly round" and "slightly off-round" may also be used along with the four basic categories above.
Akoya pearl prices are generally based on round pearls. When the pearls deviate from the round shape, they are discounted. Baroque pearls, for example, may be sold for 55% to 80% less than rounds. Pearl pricing varies from one dealer to another.
When judging pearls for shape, take into consideration the type of pearl you are looking at. For example, expensive natural pearls are typically baroque, whereas cheap cultured pearls with thin nacre (pearl coating) are generally round. That's because natural pearls don't contain a round nucleus bead, and cultured pearl beads that are hardly coated with nacre don't have much of a chance to grow irregular. The typical shapes of five pearl types are described below to help you learn what degree of roundness to expect of pearls. They are listed from the most commonly round to the most commonly baroque.
Another grading factor to consider when judging off-round and especially semi-baroque pearls is their degree of symmetry (perfectly round pearls are always symmetrical and baroque pearls are by definition unsymmetrical). If for example, you are buying a teardrop pearl pendant for someone special, one with two equal sides would probably be the most
Normally, the more round and symmetrical the pearl, the more it costs. Unique, asymmetrical shapes, however, are also desirable, and are used to create distinctive pearl pieces. The lowest priced shapes are baroque (irregular and asymmetrical in shape) or have ring-like formations encircling the pearl.
Shape plays a major role in determining the price of pearls. Throughout history,
round has generally been considered the most valuable shape for a pearl. Perhaps this was because pearls were considered a symbol of the moon. Nevertheless, the most famous and valuable pearls are often not round. That's because factors such as size, luster and origin are also important.
Akoya pearls can be divided into four basic shape categories:
• Round So symmetrical that the pearl will roll in a straight line on a flat inclined surface. Normally the most expensive shape.
• Off-Round Slightly flattened or ovalish.
• Semi-Baroque Obviously not round. Pear, drop, egg and button shapes are examples.
• Baroque Very distorted and irregular in shape. Often the surface is very uneven. They occasionally resemble familiar objects such as teeth, mushrooms, cacti, tadpoles, or snails.