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Pearl Grading

Pearl Quality

There are 7 important factors that can affect the value of pearls:

Luster: The brilliance of a pearl. The greater and stronger the luster, the more valuable the pearl. Pearls with high luster can display sharp and fairly clear reflections, and a visible contrast between the bright and the darker areas of the pearl. Luster is one of the most important factors when selecting pearls.

Shape: The more round and symmetrical the pearl, the more valuable the pearl. The shapes can be described as round, near-round, oval, button, drop, semi-baroque, and baroque. Pearls not falling into these groupings are described as they appear.

Size: The bigger the size, the more valuable the pearl. The size of round pears is expressed in terms of their diameter measured in millimeters. The size of non-round pearls such as tear drop pearls are expressed in terms of the greatest width and length and in some cases depth.

Surface quality: The fewer and smaller the flaws, the more valuable the pearl. Types of blemishes can include bumps, welts, discolorations, chips, gaps, or patches of missing nacre, pits and pinpoints, dimples, dull spots, cracks and scratches. However, because cultured pearls are formed in the same environment as natural pearls, blemishes are somewhat expected. In a way, visually acceptable minor blemishes can help us to distinguish genuine pearls from imitation pearls. There are four classifications on surface quality:

  • Clean - Pearls that contain no blemishes or ones that are very difficult to see even with a trained eye
  • Lightly Blemished - Pearls that show minor surface blemishes when looked at by a trained eye
  • Moderately Blemished - Pearls that show noticeable surface characteristics
  • Heavily Blemished - Pearls show very obvious blemishes that can also affect durability of the pearls

Color: A combination of the pearl’s dominant body color, overtone, and orient. Body color takes into account hue, tone, and saturation. Overtone is a noticeable translucent color that appear to overlie the body color. Orient is a mixture of colors shimmering just below the pearl’s surface. Pearl iridescence is always considered a valuable quality.

Nacre: Nacre thickness is one of the most important quality factors for cultured saltwater pearls because it affects both pearl beauty and durability. Nacre thickness is not as important a factor in cultured freshwater pearls because most freshwater pearls are non-bead cultured.

Matching: The better pearls blend together in terms of color, shape, luster, size and surface quality, the more valuable they are. It is the uniformity of appearance in pearl strands and multi-pearl pieces.

Magori Pearl Grading

Magori Pearl Grading

Unlike diamond grading, currently there is no agreed upon international standard for grading pearls. Magori adopts GIA's 7 Pearl Value Factors into developing our grading and quality standards, and uses A-AAA grading scale which is commonly agreed as the most consistent evaluation method.


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