VERY IMPORTANT OVERAL GRADING, BUYING TIPS and ADVICE
(worth taking a few moments)
Before reading further down about the grading systems around the world, we would just like to say that we know that sometimes the internet does not provide all the answers, this is why the Unique reassurance is automatically there for you in that we have 30 years experience in threading high grade pearls onto pure silks and why the following facts are particularly important.
(1) We will be absolutely clear as to whether we are illustrating a Frehwater pearl item or an Oyster Saltwater pearl item, as this is the single largest factor for confusion between retailers and customer alike. The price should vary considerably between these particular types of pearl so always ask which it is before buying. The word cultured is not enough, this primarily means farmed, not neccessarily which type of pearl. You should expect to pay a higher price for the saltwater pearl than frehswater pearls for various reasons, one of which is due to the culturing process itself. But in grading terms each type of pearl is graded on it's own individual merits, so you can have a higher grade freshwater strand and a lower grade saltwater strand at the same price. In our view price does not always guarantee quality or knowledge.
(2) The quality grade of your purchase will always meet or surpass all descriptions and grading given by Pearls of Purity Ltd with the utmost integrity. Because we are in the enviable position of being able to check all of our pearl grades as we import them ourselves and hand make them here in the UK using mostly European components, for example many of our clasps are high quality from Germany, others from England and the USA.
(3) Unique reassurance is automatically there for you in that we have 30 years experience in threading high grade pearls onto pure silks (and many other materials) which also means that we are able to design very special and unique pieces which are only available here at Pearls of Purity, such as our iconic Champagne Bubbles Collection. It also means that if you need any advise on a particular design as in its strength, comfort, pearl sizes, colour matching or clasp options for example to get the most out of it and its longevity, of course we are happy to advise, please dont hesitate to contact us or email your questions.
(4) If for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase we uphold a 30 day money back guarantee (for more details see guarantee section)
At Pearls of Purity our in house pearl grading system requires strict adherence to ethical, moral, and realistic evaluation. A description of each piece, it's origin and it's components including it's true value is certified on a certificate of Authenticity which accompanies each piece whatever the value. More helpful terminology can be found in the glossary section.
PEARLS ARE GRADED ACCORDING TO MANY FACTORS
This is of paramount importance to us at Pearls of Purity for the simple reason that in our opinion this is where the inner life of the pearl is, over the years our customers have shown this to be the most wonderful part of owning real pearls, also the contributory factor to enhancing the skin tone and owning pearls that get noticed!. The organic layers of carbon building up over a period of years like the layers of an onion, produce a refraction of light bouncing off a smooth surface giving a shine and luminosity. Chalky, matt or milky pearls are unable to produce this light reflection or shine. The more care and attention given to the healthy living environment during the growth of the pearl whilst in the water, will produce the more beautiful and lustrous pearl.
The size of a pearl will usually reflect the amount of time it is actually in the water, the longer period of time, the larger the pearl. Each type of pearl has it's normal parameters, such as Freshwater pearls can be from a tiny seed pearl size up to around 14mm, some can be even larger but perhaps not quite retaining such a good shape. Freshwater pearls are nucleated with a small piece of tissue which disappears during the growing process, leaving a solid pearl of nacre. Oyster or saltwater pearls are generally from 4mm up to approx 9.5mm-10mm and are nucleated with a small round shell bead for the Nacre to form around producing a round pearl although tails can form during growth creating some beautiful baroque or irregular shapes too. Tahitian and south sea pearls are much larger, starting around 8mm up to perhaps 20mm and occasionally larger as they drive from a much larger shell. (see glossary)
Whether it is an Oyster saltwater pearl, a freshwater pearl or a tahitian pearl, the longer the pearl is in the water the larger the investment for the pearl farmer, the more vulnerable it is to weather conditions and water mineral imbalances, and also more likely to grow off shape which can detract from it's value. So for many reasons the larger the pearl that has kept the good round shape the more valuable it becomes.
The traditional shape has always been the classical round shape and in real pearl terms there is round and then there is a subjective interpretation of round! A truly round pearl is one that has been cultured in a laboritory condition, having an irritant placed inside the oyster shell which is a small perfectly round bead, which in turn hopefully produces a perfectly round pearl. This process of perliculture is generally used for the oyster pearls. Very close to a round shaped pearl can also be found with freshwater pearls to such a degree that sometimes it can be difficult to see the difference if the grading and quality is high enough. There are the slightly off round shapes and shapes which can be classified as potato shape, button, rice, oval, roundel shape etc., Then there are the Baroque, stick, drop, coin, tear shape etc., the list is endless and these days produced with some stunning results.
A wide variety of colours are available around the world in different pearl types. Natural white remains the most recognised but there is an array of varying shades of pinks, peach, golden creams with varying overtones. For example we often refer to a white pearl with a creamy overtone or a white pearl with a rosy overtone, both reflecting a higher grade in colour depth.
This again can reflect the health of the oyster or mollusc, the grade and the price. There are many new and vibrant colour treatments now available which can produce some gorgeous results but there is only one true black pearl which is the Tahitian or south sea pearl.
The smoothness of the surface is categorised by the amount of flaws visible to the naked eye, although they are called flaws, it begs the question as to when does a natural growth mark change from being an organic natural feature into becoming a flaw. One of the beauties about pearls is that each and every pearl is unique having been grown inside a shell by a creature, some blemishes can identify your pearls uniqueness without detracting from the overall beauty of the piece. However a grading system needs to be in place to ensure security of value when investing in something that if cared for will last a life time, so we advise you to look for marks which are more serious such as cracks which will in time become worse and splits near the holes of pearls where they have been hand drilled ready for threading, this is a sign of thin Nacre (The calcium carbonate layers) which can be caused by the pearl being harvested too early and will therefore not keep it's beauty.
The overall strand for a necklace or bracelet should be balanced, for example the pearls should be the same colour, same overtones, same size and shape, any one of these things can throw out the balance and comfort to the eye. if you view the pearls in different lights and roll them over on a light background it is easy to see if there are any mismatched pearls.
INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED GRADING SYSTEMS
As there is not a single recognised universal pearl grading system, this means that different countries and different pearl types have different grading systems, for example........ Amerca widely uses the A - AAA, system, AAA being the highest or gem quality grade, but sometimes you will see a "+" or even "AAAA" for an additional and subjective view point as to the quality grade, you could say it is a personal interpretation. Some Pearl dealers particularly for Freshwater Pearls use the A,B,C,D system and then adding a plus or minus sign to indicate a slightly higher or lower level within the grade, for example A+ then A, B+ then B, C+ etc., A, being the highest grade. The Tahitian and South Sea Pearl grading system, which the French Polynesian government standards are based on use A, B, C, D. Each grading system deals with the percentage of the pearls surface which is unflawed, the level of lustre, the shape, colour, overtone colours, uniformatiy and so on.....
Our business is well established and in an unusual and specialised field, providing the Jewellery Industry and retail buyers with high quality pearls, both cultured Akoya oyster and Tahitian pearls also a stunning array of Freshwater cultured Pearls, all of which are strung on to the best quality pure silks in the traditional manner for safety, wearability and beauty.
Most of our products are made by hand or are derived from natural sources, This means each Cameo or pearl may vary slightly. The pictures in these catalogue pages are all originals and we ask you to bear in mind the inevitable variations although only slight.