Pearl Jewelry Buying Guide

Pearl Jewelry, Classic, elegant and timeless jewelry for every day wear to special occasions.

When it comes to buying pearl jewelry, there are certain factors you should educate yourself on in order to make an informed decision. Not all pearls are created equal and each has its own unique aspects which may appeal to you more than others.

Natural vs Cultured vs Imitation

Pearl jewelry can be made of three different types of pearls: natural, cultured or imitation.

Imitation pearls are often what you will find in chain-stores around the country and are generally available for a very low cost. They can look very similar to real pearls, however they are often glass, plastic or shell beads dipped in ground fish scales and lacquered with pearlescence. When you place them alongside real pearls, the difference is noticeable. You can always try the "tooth test" by running the pearl along the edge of your upper teeth. If it feels gritty or rough then it is an actual pearl. Fake plastic or glass pearls feel too smooth and perfect to be made from nature.

Natural pearls are the complete opposite. These are pearls which are found by pearl divers who search for mollusks, the animal which produces pearls, in their natural environment. The possibility of finding perfect or even useable pearls in this matter is very rare. So a strand made of completely natural pearls is generally very expensive.

Cultured pearls are the most common types of pearls produced. Farms of mollusks are created in lakes, rivers, or bays. Here, a nucleus is implanted into each mollusk to help foster the nacre production which eventually will lead to the growth of an actual pearl in a few years of time.

"Growing" pearls in this matter does not mean that every pearl will come out perfectly. Therefore, much time and effort is spent on inspecting the pearls to ensure each is of the upmost quality.

Types of Pearls

There are 4 major types of pearls which are all offered on Pearl Classic. There are the most popular and affordable Freshwater Pearls and the classic Akoya pearls which are always in demand. Then there are the exotic and mysterious Tahitian pearls as well as the gorgeous and always elegant South Sea pearls.

Each has its own unique characteristics and value that makes them special in their own way. These characteristics are used to determine how a piece of pearl jewelry is priced. This includes the type of pearls used, the colors, the quality (shape, luster, surface, nacre), the size of the pearls and how well they match with each other.

Freshwater Pearl Jewelry

For beginners, Freshwater pearl jewelry is an excellent choice. There are plenty of styles and ranges of quality to choose from at an affordable price. Over the past few years, we have found that the quality of Freshwater pearls has become better and better. In fact, some high quality Freshwater pearl jewelry can be superior to some lower end Akoya pearls!

Akoya Pearl Jewelry

We really love Akoya pearls, especially for young girls looking to start their own pearl jewelry collection. An Akoya pearl necklace with smaller sized pearls ranging from 6mm to 7mm, would make an excellent gift.

Women looking to invest in solid quality pearls that would be ideal for the office for years to come should look to a classic Akoya pearl strand and stud earrings. This is a style you can never go wrong with and would make a wonderful family heirloom.

For a more modern look, solitary Akoya pearl pendants work very well.

We have also found that brides find sets of Akoya pearl jewelry to be the best. This includes a necklace, earring and bracelet set.

Tahitian Pearl Jewelry

Tahitian pearls are a relatively recent phenomenon. Cultivation of Tahitian pearls really began in the 1960�s in French Polynesia. But since the 1990�s the demand for Tahitian pearl jewelryin the United States has really taken off. Many in the industry believe this is in due part to legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor and her promotion for her Black Pearl Perfume. It brought the public's attention to exotic black pearls for the first time and really boosted sales.

Tahitian pearls are sought after because of their unusual yet natural characteristics. They are larger in size and come in an array of unusual colors which really set them apart from classic white pearls. Naturally "black" pearls are not actually black but rather dark shades of gray, greens, and blues.

Tahitian pearl earrings and pendants are an ideal addition to your wardrobe that is also affordable. If you are looking to splurge a little, take a look at multi-color Tahitian pearl necklaces. These offer a very unique alternative but can be available at a reasonable price.

South Sea Pearl Jewelry

Lastly, there are gorgeous South Sea Pearls which are the largest type of cultured pearls available. The first commercial South Sea pearl farm was established in 1956 by a company based in Australia. In fact, to this day, the majority of white South Sea pearls you will find originate from Australia. In the 1970�s companies out of Indonesia and the Philippines began culturing many of the colored South Sea pearls you will see.

Indonesia generally focuses on producing golden/yellow South Sea pearls. Meanwhile, farmers in the Philippines concentrate on both white and golden/yellow pearls.

Because of the larger size and exotic nature, South Sea pearls are priced higher than others. For the most affordable way to shop South Sea pearls, check out earrings, pendants or strands of necklaces that are combined with Tahitian pearls. These make for an elegant multi-colored strand of pearls that will really show your sense of style.

For more details on each type of pearl, check out our guide to the different types of pearls here.

Lengths of Necklaces

When shopping online for necklaces, you will read about the length of a necklace. But that can be hard to visualize.

To give you a better understanding, here is a necklace length chart which shows you more or less where specific length of necklaces from Pearl Classic will more or less lay on you.



The Pearl Collar is a great choice for a classic yet modern look. Typically collars are 12-13 inches, and lie comfortably on the center of the neck. Available in single or double strands, they are the perfect accessory to compliment any off the shoulder outfit.

The Pearl Choker comes in a versatile length of 14-16 inches, and lies nicely on the collar. This length is the perfect choice for that first necklace, with its classic look it can effortlessly go from casual to formal. Perfect with a simple blouse or the Perfect little black dress.

The Princess Necklace is the traditional choice necklace at 17-18 inches long. This length is the most common for pearl necklace; if you are in doubt choose the princess necklace! This classic length falls a bit below the collar, and is the perfect complement to a V or scoop neckline.

The Matinee Necklace is longer than previous styles; it is available from 20-24 inches. This length will lie past the collar and above the bust, perfect for accessorizing a subtle turtle neck, or high collar blouse. The Matinee necklace is also a perfect addition to any shorter length necklace for a fabulous layered look.

The Opera Necklace continues the trend of longer style necklaces, and measures anywhere from 26-36 inches long. This versatile necklace lies squarely on the bust, but can also be doubled to create a collar look. The length makes this necklace perfect with any neckline.

The Pearl Rope is traditionally 37 inches and above, lying well beyond the bust. This dramatic necklace is the ultimate statement in elegance. Can be layered or doubled for a lovely evening look, also can be knotted for a modern and stylish twist.