Susan Miller

·Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry Design, Pratt Institute, 2012

·Bachelor of Arts in Gemology, University of California, Los Angeles, May 2005

·Editor-in-Chief, White Victoria (2018 - present)

·Write and research feature articles and profiles for print and online publication

·Contributing Writer, Modern Jeweler and Ornament

·Write and publish freelance articles for IGS and WSJ Magazine

·Jewelry Appraiser (2012 - 2020)

Pearls are timeless and elegant gems that can enhance any outfit, making them a fantastic addition to your jewelry collection.

However, choosing the perfect pearl necklace can be hard with a wide range of options available. 

This comprehensive guide will provide you with the essential knowledge and tips to make an informed decision when selecting your first pearl necklace.

We'll delve into the different types of pearls, such as Akoya, Freshwater, Tahitian, and South Sea, discussing their unique characteristics and qualities.

You'll learn about the factors that affect pearl quality, including size, shape, color, luster, and surface quality.

how to select pearl necklace

Furthermore, we'll explore various necklace lengths, styles, and clasps, helping you understand which options best suit your style and preferences.

We'll also guide budget considerations, care and maintenance of your pearls, and reputable sources to purchase them.

Understanding Pearls

how to select pearl necklace

Pearls have captivated humans for centuries with their exquisite beauty and timeless elegance.

These organic gems, formed within the depths of the sea, possess a unique allure that sets them apart from other gemstones.

In this article, we will delve into the types of pearls, shedding light on natural and cultured pearls.

1. Natural Pearls

how to select pearl necklace

Natural pearls are a true marvel of nature. Formed entirely by chance, these pearls are a rarity today.

Natural pearls are created when an irritant enters an oyster or mollusk.

In response, the creature secretes layers of nacre, a combination of calcium carbonate and conchiolin, to coat the irritant and form a pearl.

The formation process takes several years, resulting in pearls that bear a mesmerizing aura of uniqueness.

Each natural pearl has distinct characteristics, making it a truly exceptional gem.

2. Cultured Pearls

how to select pearl necklace

Cultured pearls are created through a process mimicking nature.

Human intervention plays a vital role in the formation of these pearls.

A small bead or piece of mantle tissue is implanted into the oyster or mollusk, prompting the creature to form a pearl around it.

This cultivation process allows for higher production of pearls compared to natural methods.

There are several common types of cultured pearls, each offering its allure and characteristics:

Akoya Pearls:

how to select pearl necklace

Renowned for their lustrous appearance and near-perfect roundness, Akoya pearls are primarily cultivated in Japan.

They are known for their classic white and cream colors, making them a popular choice for elegant jewelry.

Freshwater Pearls:

how to select pearl necklace

Cultivated in freshwater bodies such as lakes and rivers, freshwater pearls come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.

They are highly versatile and offer an affordable option for pearl enthusiasts.

Tahitian Pearls:

how to select pearl necklace

Originating from French Polynesia, Tahitian pearls are celebrated for their rich, dark colors, ranging from black and grey to vibrant greens, blues, and purples.

Their unique hues make them a statement piece in any jewelry collection.

South Sea Pearls:

how to select pearl necklace

Cultivated in the warm waters of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, they are renowned for their impressive size and luxurious appeal.

They exhibit a soft, satiny luster, ranging from creamy white to golden hues.

Factors Affecting Pearl Quality

how to select pearl necklace

When selecting a pearl necklace, several factors come into play to determine its overall quality and appeal. 

1. Luster:

how to select pearl necklace

Luster refers to the glow and reflection of light on the pearl's surface. High luster signifies a superior-quality pearl with a bright, mirror-like sheen.

A pearl with good luster will have a captivating radiance, adding to its allure and value.

2. Size:

how to select pearl necklace

Pearl size affects its value, with larger pearls being more coveted.

However, personal style and occasion should also be considered.

Smaller pearls can offer a delicate and understated elegance, while larger pearls make a bold statement.

3. Color:

how to select pearl necklace

Pearls come in a diverse range of colors, from classic white and cream to vibrant shades of pink, blue, and black.

Consider your skin tone and wardrobe when selecting a pearl color to ensure a flattering and versatile choice.

4. Shape:

how to select pearl necklace

Pearls come in various shapes, including round, baroque, teardrop, and more.

The most coveted shape is the perfectly round pearl, but other shapes can offer unique and eye-catching appeal.

Select a shape that complements your neckline and personal style.

Necklace Styles

how to select pearl necklace

Regarding pearl necklaces, the style, and length you choose can significantly impact your ensemble's overall look and feel.

Here are some popular necklace styles to consider:

1. Collar Necklace:

how to select pearl necklace

A collar necklace sits snugly around the neck, offering a bold and sophisticated look.

It pairs well with strapless or V-neckline dresses and is perfect for formal occasions or cocktail parties.

2. Choker Necklace:

how to select pearl necklace

Choker necklaces are versatile and can be worn close to the neck or slightly lower.

Oval or round face shapes can benefit from longer chokers, while square faces are flattered by wider styles.

3. Princess Necklace:

how to select pearl necklace

The princess necklace is a classic and timeless style that falls just below the collarbone.

It complements a wide range of necklines and is suitable for casual and formal events, making it a versatile choice.

4. Matinee Necklace:

how to select pearl necklace

A matinee necklace typically falls to the top of the bust and is perfect for dressing up an outfit.

It is suitable for any occasion, and its longer length enhances the neckline, particularly with high-neck or crew-neck tops.

5. Opera Necklace:

how to select pearl necklace

An opera necklace is a longer style that typically reaches the sternum or mid-chest.

It creates a dramatic look and is ideal for elegant events or formal affairs. Consider layering or knotting the necklace for added versatility.

6. Rope Necklace:

how to select pearl necklace

The rope necklace is the most extended style, usually longer than 36 inches, and offers numerous styling options.

You can wear it as a single strand, double, or knotted for a trendy look. This versatile necklace adds a touch of elegance to any outfit.

Necklace Quality and Budget Considerations

how to select pearl necklace

When it comes to selecting a pearl necklace, evaluating the quality of the pearls is essential.

Understanding the grading systems and key criteria for grading will help you make an informed decision:

1. Grading Systems:

how to select pearl necklace

Pearls are graded based on luster, surface quality, shape, size, and color.

These criteria determine the overall quality of the pearls.

Familiarize yourself with grading systems to better understand the value and characteristics of the pearls you're considering.

2. Budget Considerations:

how to select pearl necklace

The price of pearl necklaces can vary depending on several factors. These include pearl type, size, quality, luster, and overall craftsmanship of the necklace.

Balancing quality and affordability is important when determining your budget for a pearl necklace.

Tips for Choosing Your First Pearl Necklace

how to select pearl necklace

When selecting your first pearl necklace, consider the following tips to ensure a satisfying purchase:

Assessing Personal Style

how to select pearl necklace

1.Understand your style preferences to determine the type of pearl necklace that resonates with you.

2.Match the pearls with your existing wardrobe and lifestyle to ensure versatility and frequent wearability.

Occasion and Purpose

how to select pearl necklace

1.Determine the intended use of the necklace—whether for formal events, everyday wear, or special occasions.

2.Select appropriate pearl necklaces styles, such as a classic strand for formal events or a simpler design for everyday elegance.

Consulting a Jewelry Professional

how to select pearl necklace

1.Seek expert advice and guidance from a jewelry professional who can assist you in making an informed decision.

2.Visit reputable jewelry stores or consultants with a wide range of pearl options and expertise to provide personalized assistance.

Pearl Necklace FAQs

Are pearls suitable for everyday wear?

how to select pearl necklace

Yes, pearls are suitable for everyday wear.

They are durable gemstones that can withstand regular use.

However, proper care, such as avoiding contact with harsh chemicals and storing them properly, is important to maintain their beauty and longevity.

Can I wear a pearl necklace with a casual outfit?

how to select pearl necklace

Absolutely! Pearls can add a touch of sophistication and elegance to a casual outfit.

Pairing a pearl necklace with a simple blouse or a t-shirt can elevate your style and create a chic yet effortless look.

How do I care for and maintain my pearl necklace?

how to select pearl necklace

To care for and maintain your pearl necklace, avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals, perfumes, or excessive moisture.

Gently wipe it with a soft cloth an store it separately in a soft pouch or lined jewelry box to prevent scratches and protect it from humidity and direct sunlight.

What is the best way to store pearl necklaces?

how to select pearl necklace

The best way to store pearl necklaces is to keep them separately in a soft pouch or lined jewelry box.

This protects them from scratches and prevents exposure to humidity and direct sunlight, which can damage their luster and overall quality.

Can I wear a pearl necklace with other jewelry?

how to select pearl necklace

Certainly! Pearls can be beautifully paired with other jewelry pieces to create elegant, sophisticated looks.

Just ensure that the pieces' styles, colors, and proportions of the pieces complement each other for a cohesive and harmonious ensemble.

Are there any cultural or symbolic meanings associated with pearls?

how to select pearl necklace

Yes, pearls have cultural and symbolic meanings in various societies.

They are often associated with purity, wisdom, wealth, and femininity.

Pearls also symbolize beauty, elegance, and luxury, making them highly valued in many cultures worldwide.

What are the benefits of purchasing a pearl necklace online?

how to select pearl necklace

Purchasing a pearl necklace online offers convenience, access to a wider selection, and the ability to compare prices and read customer reviews.

However, it's important to ensure a reputable seller, secure transactions, and accurate product descriptions to guarantee a satisfactory online buying experience.

Can I customize a pearl necklace to my preferences?

how to select pearl necklace

Yes, you can customize a pearl necklace to your preferences.

Many jewellers offer options for selecting the pearl type, size, color, necklace length, clasp style, and other design elements to create a personalized pearl necklace that suits your taste and style.

How can I verify the authenticity of the pearls?

how to select pearl necklace

To verify the authenticity of pearls, you can consult a reputable jeweler or gemologist who can examine them for factors like luster, surface quality, and weight and conduct various tests to determine if they are genuine or imitation/fake.