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Pearl Buying Tip-Sheet

Buying Tips for Pearls


  • Because this type of oyster is not especially large, Akoya pearls over 8mm are rare and expensive. 10mm or larger Akoyas are extremely rare.
  • Akoyas are known for their pure color and deep luster. True Akoyas should be quite white or creamy in color. They should have very strong luster, with an almost metallic look. A faint pink tinge is also acceptable.
  • When buying Akoya pearls, you are buying a true gem-quality, luxury item. You should expect pearls that are very well-matched in color, very well-matched in size, and very round.
  • Be diligent if offered 8-10mm Akoya pearls at a bargain price. They would normally be quite expensive, even at cost/wholesale levels.
  • Because Akoya pearls are cultured starting from a perfectly round bead. They can grow slightly "off round" during culturing, but should never be more than very slightly off-round. Notably oval or potato shaped pearls are almost certainly NOT Akoyas, but Freshwater pearls.


  • Because Tahitian pearls come from larger oysters, pearls as large as 16mm can be cultured, though 8-10mm is more common
  • Tahitian Pearls are most valuable when truly round. Because the oyster is implanted with a round bead to start the culturing, potato-shaped, oval and notably off-round pearls are likely dyed freshwater pearls. However, "Baroque" Tahitian pearls - charcterized by irregular shapes, lines & striations, etc. are also cultured, and can be very valuable.
  • Although your personal preference of color-tone for Tahitian pearls may be the most important factor in your choice, the color is critical in valuing (and thus paying appropriate prices) for Tahitian pearls. Most-valued are "peacock" color pearls showing a rainbow spectrum of blue, green, and maroon undertones within their deep gray color.
  • The luster of Tahitian pearls is another critical factor, with the best examples showing an "oil slick" appearance.

South Seas

  • More info here

Freshwater Pearls

  • More info here
For more detailed info, visit our full Pearl Guide.