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Pearl Price factors
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• Roll the pearls. Otherwise you may not see some serious flaws and you won't know what percentage of the pearls is flawed.

A pearl necklace valued at $200,000, shown at one of our recent great expositions, was, to all appearances, a remarkably beautiful collection, and it was only when the intending purchaser took them from their velvet bed and
held them in his hands that he realized that there was not a perfect pearl in the entire collection. It must have taken more than a week of study for the clever dealer to arrange them so that the best part, sometimes the only good part of each pearl, should be where the eye would fall upon it. After they had been turned in the hands a few seconds, not one perfect specimen was visible."

• Keep in mind that it's normal for pearls to have a few flaws.

Grading Surface Quality

The diamond industry has a standardized system for grading clarity based on a system developed by the GIA. Ten-power magnification is used. The advantage of having this system is that buyers can communicate what they want anywhere in the world. In addition, written appraisals and quality reports are more meaningful. The GIA has tried to establish such a system for pearls. Their latest system defines four categories of surface quality:

• Clean-Pearls are blemish-free or contain minute surface characteristics that are very difficult to see by a trained observer.

• Lightly blemished-Pearls show minor surface irregularities when examined by a trained observer.

• Moderately blemished-Pearls show noticeable surface characteristics.

• Heavily blemished-Pearls show obvious surface irregularities that might affect durability.

Most pearl dealers have their own systems for grading surface quality. Occasionally you'll come across grades such as AAA, AA, A. Depending on the supplier or store, these grades may refer to the luster, the flaws, a combination of these two factors, or they may include other factors such as shape and nacre thickness. In essence, pearl grades have no meaning except what the seller assigns to them. Therefore, do not rely on grades to compare pearl prices. Examine the pearls yourself, use your own judgment and consider the following:

• The prominence of the blemishes. Visible flaws away from drill holes are more serious than those near the holes. High bumps can be more noticeable than small pits or low bumps.

• The type of flaws. Chipped or missing nacre is usually more serious than bumps even though it may be less noticeable.

• The percentage of the pearl surface that is flawed. It's a lot more serious if 80 % of the surface of a pearl is flawed than if only 10% of it is. You need to roll the pearls to check this factor.
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