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)

Shopping for pearls is a luxurious yet intimidating experience. Whether you're trying to find the perfect necklace as a gift or you've been eyeing those beautiful pearl earrings at the store, it's hard to figure out which pearl pieces are worth splurging on—or if you even should. 

Pearl jewelry has been a timeless and elegant choice for women of all ages throughout history. These lustrous gems, formed within the shells of mollusks, are highly valued for their beauty, rarity, and symbolic significance. 

As a result, pearl jewelry is a popular gift option for various occasions. It plays a vital role in fostering and strengthening family relationships.

pearl guide

But how to choose the perfect pearl jewelry? To find answers to this question, I reached out to female experts in jewelry design - grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and wives - to get your questions answered once and for all! 

In this ultimate buying guide, they'll be sharing tips and tricks on selecting top-quality pearls and creating long-lasting heirlooms that will bring beauty into your wardrobe for years to come!

Pearl Jewelry Recommendations from Different Women

pearl guide

If you need help figuring out where to start with pearl jewelry, consider asking a family member or friend who knows about pearls. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and wives all make excellent advisors when selecting quality pearl pieces. 

Grandmother

pearl guide

Grandmothers often have a timeless sense of style. They may recommend a variety of pearl jewelry styles that evoke elegance and sophistication. 

Here are some examples of pearl jewelry that grandmothers might suggest:

  • Classic pearl strands: A single or double strand of pearls is a timeless and elegant choice. A strand of 7-8mm pearls in white, cream, or light pink is versatile and suitable for most occasions.
  • Pearl stud earrings: Simple pearl stud earrings are a classic and understated accessory. A pearl size of 8-9mm in white, cream, or light pink is a popular choice.
  • Pearl pendant necklace: A single pearl pendant on a gold or silver chain is a delicate and sophisticated option. A 9-10mm pearl in white, cream, or light pink pendant is an excellent choice.
  • Pearl brooch: A vintage-inspired pearl brooch can be a unique and elegant accessory. Look for brooches featuring pearls in various sizes and colors, such as white, cream, light pink, or even black.
  • Pearl-embellished accessories: Grandmothers might also recommend accessories adorned with pearls, like hairpins, hatpins, or scarf clips.

When it comes to pearl color, white, cream, and light pink are traditional and versatile choices. 

However, depending on personal taste and style, some grandmothers might also recommend experimenting with other pearl colors, such as golden, silver, or even black (Tahitian) pearls.

Mother

pearl guide

Mothers often have a practical and versatile sense of style and may recommend a variety of pearl jewelry styles that are suitable for everyday wear as well as special occasions. 

Here are some examples of pearl jewelry that mothers might advise to buy:

  • Pearl stud earrings: These timeless pieces are the perfect accessory to spice up any look. With 9-10mm pearls available in many colors, you can effortlessly wear these gems daily and make a statement.
  • Pearl bracelets: Instantly catapult your look to an elevated level of sophistication with a pearl bracelet - the perfect accessory for any occasion. Whether you opt for a strand in white, gray, silver, yellow, blue-green, bronze, or pink composed of 8-8.5mm pearls, these timeless pieces will infuse classic charm into your style and make you shine!
  • Pearl pendant necklace: For a timelessly beautiful and understated look, choose an 8-9mm pearl pendant in white or light pink set on a gold or silver chain. This exquisite piece is delicate enough to wear every day as your go-to accessory.
  • Pearl bar necklace: Make a fashion statement with the timeless pearl bar necklace! Choose pearls in the 6-8mm size range, and select between 5-7 pearls to be set horizontally along your gold or silver chain. Pearl bars are sure to complete any outfit and add an elegant touch of class.
  • Pearl hoop earrings: Add a modern touch to your look with pearl hoop earrings! Crafted to make an impact, these unique pieces feature 6-8mm pearls in classic shades of white or gold. Perfect for any occasion, they are sure to become one of your favorite accessories.

Regarding pearl color, white, cream, and light pink are traditional and versatile choices that can be worn with various outfits. Still, you can choose any color from gray, silver, yellow, blue-green, bronze, to black. As for pearl size, sticking to the 6-8mm range is generally a safe bet for everyday wear and versatility. 

However, the size and color of the pearls should ultimately be chosen based on the individual's preferences, skin tone, and the occasion for which the jewelry will be worn.

Daughter

pearl guide

Daughters often have a contemporary and fashionable sense of style and may recommend a variety of pearl jewelry styles that are trendy and modern. 

Here are some popular styles:

  • Modern pearl chokers: Pearl chokers offer a fresh and youthful take on pearl jewelry. Opt for a choker with 6-8mm pearls in white, cream, or even black for a stylish look.
  • Pearl hoop earrings: Pearl hoop earrings provide a contemporary twist on the classic pearl earring. Choose hoops adorned with 6-8mm pearls in white or other trendy colors like golden or black.
  • Layered pearl necklaces: Layering multiple pearl necklaces of varying lengths and sizes creates a fashionable and chic look. Mix and match strands of 4-8mm pearls in white, cream, light pink, and other unique colors like gray or peacock.
  • Pearl ear cuffs or climbers: For a more edgy and modern look, consider pearl ear cuffs or climbers that feature 3-5mm pearls in bold colors like black or dark gray.
  • Asymmetric or mismatched pearl earrings: Asymmetric or mismatched pearl earrings are a trendy and playful option. Choose earrings with varying pearl sizes, ranging from 4-8mm, and combine different colors like golden, rose-colored, or black for a unique look.

Regarding pearl color, daughters might be more adventurous in their recommendations, encouraging the exploration of unique and trendy colors like black, golden, rose-colored, and more. As for pearl size, daughters tend to favor smaller sizes (4-8mm) and multiple strands when creating layered looks. 

Wife

pearl guide

When it comes to jewelry, wives may prefer both classic and contemporary looks. Here are some of the most popular styles:

  • Pearl earrings with diamonds: Pearl earrings are a subtle but adaptable piece of jewelry that can be worn for various events, from casual get-togethers to more formal functions. Opt for 5-8mm white, cream, or grey pearls if you're aiming for a timeless look.
  • Pearl pendant necklace: For a chic, classic look you can don every day, no other jewelry speaks sophistication like an exquisite single pearl pendant on a silver or gold chain with diamonds. With sizes ranging from 10-13mm and available in many colors - the options are limitless!
  • Pearl bracelet: You can never go wrong with a pearl bracelet for a classic and timeless look. Choose from 6-8mm pearls in white, blue, lavender, or even black hues to match the rest of your pearl jewelry for an effortless, coordinated appearance.
  • Pearl and diamond ring: For an opulent aesthetic, consider pearl and diamond rings. A 12-13mm white or cream pearl encircled by diamonds is the perfect way to express luxury in your style.
  • Pearl station necklace: A pearl station necklace features pearls spaced evenly along a gold or silver chain, offering a modern and elegant twist on the classic pearl strand. Opt for a necklace with 6-8mm white, black, golden, solver, or even lavender color.

Regarding color, white, cream, grey, gold, and black are always popular choices for wives. As for pearl size, wives tend to prefer larger pearls (6-9mm) that are set in classic and timeless designs. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Pearl Jewelry

pearl guide

When buying pearl jewelry, several factors must be considered to ensure you select the perfect piece that suits your style and preferences. 

Here are some tips to guide you in making an informed decision:

Pearl Quality

pearl guide

The luster of a pearl is one of the most important factors in pearl quality. It refers to its shine or reflective quality. High-quality pearls have a strong, deep luster that appears to glow from within.

Second, examine the pearl's surface for imperfections like spots, bumps, or irregularities. The fewer imperfections, the higher the quality.

Third, observe the pearl's nacre. Nacre is the substance produced by mollusks that forms the layers of a pearl. A thicker nacre usually results in a more durable and lustrous pearl.

Pearl Size

pearl guide

Pearls come in various sizes, usually measured in millimeters. Consider the purpose and style of the jewelry when selecting the size. Here is a brief list of the most common sizes:

  • 4-5mm: These are the smallest pearls often used to create multi-strand necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
pearl guide
  • 6-7mm: These pearls are perfect for single-strand necklaces, pendants, earrings, and rings.
pearl guide
  • 8-9mm and more: These are larger pearls ideal for statement pieces such as extravagant necklaces, pendants, and earrings.
pearl guide

For example, smaller pearls are more suitable for everyday wear. In comparison, larger pearls make a statement and are better suited for special occasions.

Pearl Color

pearl guide

Pearls come in various colors: white, cream, pink, black, silver, and gold. Consider your personal preferences and the colors you typically wear when selecting the pearl color.

Pearl Shape

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Pearls can be round, oval, button-shaped, or baroque (irregularly shaped). Round pearls are the most classic and highly valued, while baroque pearls offer a unique and artistic look.

Personal Style

pearl guide

Consider your personal style and how the pearl jewelry will fit into your wardrobe. For example, classic pearl studs or a single-strand necklace are versatile and timeless. In contrast, more unique or colorful pearls can make a bold fashion statement.

Skin Tone

pearl guide

Choose pearl colors that complement your skin tone. Here is a brief overview of different skin tones and matching pearl colors:

  • Light skin tone - Pearls in light pink, white, and silver look great on lighter skin tones. 
pearl guide
  • Medium skin tone - Cream, champagne, and golden-colored pearls work best with medium skin tones. 
pearl guide
  • Dark skin tone - Darker hues, such as black and dark gray pearls, are the perfect complement for darker skin tones. 
pearl guide

So, those with cooler skin tones may prefer white or silver pearls, while warmer skin tones might look better with cream, gold, or pink pearls.

Wardrobe

pearl guide

Consider the colors and styles of clothing you frequently wear to ensure the pearl jewelry complements your wardrobe. Neutral-colored pearls are versatile and can be paired with various outfits. In contrast, more colorful pearls can add a pop of color to monochromatic ensembles.

Budget

pearl guide

Establish your budget before shopping for pearl jewelry. Pearl prices vary widely depending on size, shape, quality, and color. Remember that higher-quality pearls can be more expensive, but they will also be more durable and have a better luster. 

By considering these factors, you'll be well on your way to selecting the perfect pearl jewelry that complements your personal style, preferences, skin tone, and wardrobe. 

Pearl Jewelry Buying Guide

pearl guide

When shopping for pearl jewelry, it's important to consider not only the size, color, shape, personal style, skin tone, wardrobe, and budget but also different pearl jewelry styles, pearls' authenticity, reviews, and prices!

Common Pearl Jewelry Styles

pearl guide

Whether looking for an elegant piece to accompany a special occasion outfit or simply desire something sophisticated and timeless, pearl jewelry is a perfect choice.  With its wide array of shapes and sizes available, pearls are incredibly versatile when selecting stunning pieces that will perfectly complement any look.

Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings crafted from pearls remain some of the most sought-after items on the market today.

  • Regarding pearl jewelry, necklaces are the classic choice and come in various styles - from elegant strands to exquisite collars.
  • Bracelets lend a dash of sophistication to any look with their exquisite elegance.
  • Earrings are the perfect way to access any look, whether you're playing it safe with a simple pair of studs or going for something more daring and statement-making like dangle earrings.
  • And lastly, rings are a perfect way to add a bit of sparkle to your look with their stunning designs.

By choosing the right pearl jewelry, you will ensure that your look stands out and remains timeless.

Common Pearl Jewelry Types

pearl guide

Freshwater pearls are the most common type of pearl and come in various shapes and sizes. They are cultured freshwater pearls grown in mussel shells, making them more affordable than other pearls. Freshwater pearls are available in different colors, ranging from white to pink to purple.

Akoya pearls are saltwater cultured pearls that come in round, semi-round, and baroque shapes. They have a beautiful luster and range in color from white to cream to silver. Akoya pearls can be found mainly in the waters off Japan, China, and Vietnam and typically measure between 2-10 mm.

South Sea pearls are some of the rarest and most valuable. Cultured mostly in Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand, South Sea pearls are white, silver, gold, and black. They usually measure between 8-20 mm with an exquisite luster that makes them highly sought after for luxury jewelry pieces.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

pearl guide

If you're shopping for pearls, it's important to ensure they are authentic and have a good review. Here are some other factors that should be considered:

  • Check for Authenticity: Guarantee that you are acquiring bona fide pearls by opting to shop from reliable retailers or jewelers. Manufactured imitations can be produced using components like glass, plastics, and shell beads; therefore, it is paramount to authenticate the veracity of your purchase before investing in them.
  • Read Reviews: Before making a pearl jewelry purchase, make sure to investigate the retailer and jeweler with great care. Read customer reviews and testimonials from past buyers in order to gain unique insights into their experience. This way, you can guarantee that your high-quality pearl jewelry is coming from an honorable source.
  • Compare Prices: With a little comparison shopping, you can find the perfect pearl at an unbeatable price. Consider size, quality, and type when looking across different retailers and jewelers for the best deal that offers maximum value for your hard-earned money.

To ensure you get the best pearls for your budget, it is essential to do a thorough investigation. With so many variables at play, investing time in making well-informed decisions when picking pearl jewelry will pay off handsomely.

Conclusion

pearl guide

Searching for the ultimate pearl jewelry? Stress no more! Our female experts have put together an extensive guide filled with invaluable advice and suggestions on how to pick out impeccable pearls. Whether it's for you or a special someone, this comprehensive resource is here to make your search effortlessly perfect.

By being aware of different pearl types, designs, quality criteria, and your own tastes, you can select the perfect piece of pearl jewelry that works with your wardrobe style and complements your skin tone.

By utilizing this guide, you can rest assured that when making a pearl purchase decision, you are doing so with a full understanding of the various choices available to you.