Listed in this section are the main factors that determine pearl quality.
All pearls purchased at ThePearlSource.com are imported, sorted, and graded exclusively by The Pearl Source at our facilities in Los Angeles, CA. Our grading system is extremely stringent so that our pearls set the standard for the industry. Our system consists of four grades: AAAA, AAA, AA, A. Our grading is comparable to the A-D system commonly used in the pearl industry.
AAAA quality pearls are the highest quality and are the most valuable. Such pearls are complemented by superior luster and are either flawless or have one or two very minor flaws.
AAA quality pearls have excellent to superior luster, with minor surface imperfections that are usually distributed over 25% OR LESS of the pearl's surface.
AA Quality pearls have a fair luster with medium surface imperfection and flaws distributed over 60% of the pearl's surface.
A Quality pearls have poor luster and are heavily spotted with many flaws or several deep flaws.
The Pearl Source uses only the highest quality pearls consisting of either AAA or AAAA quality with the exception of Baroque pearls which are valued for their irregular shape and unique markings
Luster is the best expression of a pearl's beauty. It is the quality of the light reflections from the pearl's surface. Luster describes the pearl's shine. High quality Tahitian pearls have high luster and a mirror-like finish. The Pearl Source measures luster at four levels: Superior, Excellent, Fair and Poor. All of our pearls at The Pearl Source (Tahitian, Australian, Golden, and cultured freshwater) are guaranteed to have either Excellent or Superior luster.
Pearls are typically assigned to five categories in the sorting process: Round, Off-Round, Drop, Baroque, and Circle Baroque.
Among all shapes, round pearls are the most valuable and desirable.
Semi-round pearls are nearly round, and typically appear round when strung as a necklace.
Drop pearls are symmetrically elongated pearls that typically take the shape of a tear-drop. These pearls are truly unique and are very valuable when a pearl has that perfect "pear-shape."
Baroque pearls are pearls that are irregular shaped, sometimes elongated. Many people enjoy the unique "character" of baroque-shape pearls, and are often used in designer jewelry. Circle Baroques have unique rings around the pearls, which may even be indented around the pearl. They are most commonly found in Tahitian South Sea Pearls. Baroque pearls are typically the least expensive pearls available.
Nacre thickness is an important factor when measuring South Sea Pearl quality. It determines how long the beauty of Tahitian pearls will last. Nacre is a substance naturally released by the oyster in the pearl making process. The thicker the nacre, the longer your pearls will shine. All of our Pearls at The Pearl Source are GUARANTEED to have a very thick nacre. Several governments have set up a minimum nacre thickness of 0.8mm to ensure that low quality pearls are not being exported. This is ensured by having all pearls go through an x-ray process. All of our pearls at The Pearl Source go through this inspection to further ensure that they are of the highest quality. Many sites claim to have a "super-thick nacre." These are gimmicks that are often used to lure unsuspecting buyers.