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Understanding Pearls

A Pictoral Guide to Pearl Shapes

As you have read in our last blog entry one of the grading factors of pearls is their shape.

This is a pictoral guide to the shapes of pearls because pictures are often easier to understand than words! 

Almost round, round and teardrop shaped pearls

As you can see almost round pearls are exactly that, almost round! There is so little difference between almost round and round that when strung on a necklace they look the same. Its only on very close inspection that you can tell the difference.

Pearls are measured across their diameterTeardrop and oval pearls are a very pretty shape, many people actually refer them to round pearls, and you get more pearl for your money as pearls are measured across their diameter not their length.

These are both 7mm pearls.

 Button pearls are extremely popular, particularly for stud earrings because they tend to be flatter on one side. This is often (but not always) the side that is attached to the ear stud.

Front view of a button pearl earringSide image of the same button pearl earringFront and side views of the same button pearl earring.       Of course they are not all identical, some can be rounder than others, but they are great if you like large pearl earrings, and they have the benefit of being a fraction of the price of perfectly round ones.

Another alternative to round pearls are flat round pearls called 'Coin Pearls'. A coin pearlThese tend to be quite large at 8mm or over and  are more expensive the smoother the surface.

However, unlike other pearls, the non-smooth surface is probably the most interesting and pretty! Coin pearls can also be grown in other shapes including square and ellipse.


Baroque, egg and potato pearls are the least expensive pearls because of their non-symmetrical shapes.  Having said that, they are still beautiful pearls in their own right and make very pretty contemporary pearl jewellery.   

Egg pearls dyed greenBaroque pearls strung on necklacePotato Pearl EarringsBiwa or Stick Pearl





     Egg Pearls               Baroque Pearls            Potato Pearls                Biwa or Stick Pearls

Biwa pearls are long thin pearls that come from Lake Biwa in Japan. These days stick pearls are frequently called Biwa pearls even though they have not actually come from Lake Biwa.


Understanding Pearl Grades and Sizes

What affects the value of a pearl?

How are pearls graded?

Unlike diamonds, there isn’t an official grading system for pearls although the Mikimoto system has been adopted throughout the industry. Many companies specialising in the more traditional styles of pearl jewellery do grade their pearls but beware, as there is no official standard,  a "AAA" graded strand from one company may be of a different quality to a "AAA" strand from another.

The grading is based on the factors below all of which contibute to the quality (and therefore the price) of a pearl.

Lustre  - this is how much light is reflected through the layers of nacre and off the surface of the pearl. A good quality pearl will be shiny not dull so the better you can see your own reflection in it the better the lustre!

Surface Quality – Tiny marks found on pearls are normal, they are after all created by nature and are proof that the pearls are real!  Pearls with few or no surface imperfections are the most valuable and a completely flawless pearl is extremely rare.  

Shape – It takes years for a cultured freshwater pearl to grow to 7mm or larger, it is nothing less than a miracle if it grows in a perfect sphere! The rarity of a perfectly round pearl makes them the most valuable. 

Size – The larger the pearl the more expensive it is as long as it has good shape, surface quality and lustre too! A smaller pearl with fewer blemishes and high lustre will be more valuable than a large dull pearl.

Colour – Pearls are commonly cream, pink and grey (black). The most important factor to remember is that the more expensive the strand, the better colour matched the pearls should be. This is easier with cream pearls as they are the most common, but in fact perfectly matched pearls, particularly if they are pink or black, tend to look imitation.

The final price of a piece of pearl jewellery depends not just on the quality of the pearls, but also how much gold or silver there is in the finished piece. 

How are pearls measured?

Pearls are measured across their diameter in millimetres. Freshwater pearls are said to be 6-7mm or 7-8mm etc , this means they can be anwhere between the two measurements. An oval or teardrop pearl is also measured across its diameter but it will be longer than wide so will appear larger than a round pearl of the same size!

A pearl necklace described as 6 - 7mm means that the pearls range in size from 6mm to 7mm. When strung the larger pearls should be in the centre of the necklace and the smaller ones strung towards the clasp. This is unlikely to be obvious to the untrained eye as the change is very gradual!


A note about our pearl jewellery images.  All of the pearl jewellery photographs on our website photos are of the actually jewellery (not retouched or photoshopped!)  and have been taken taken at very close range to enable you to see the detail of the item. This means that sometimes the tiniest imperfections which would not be visible to the naked eye may be seen in the image.

Pearl Jewellery Trends for 2012

Jewellery to look for in spring 2012

1920's Flapper style!

We've been doing some research this New Year and one theme running strong on the catwalks and on the high street this Rope Pearl Necklacespring is simplicity and elegance. Classic fringes and draping reminiscent of the 20’s are back in style in a big way.
Choker Pearl Necklace

Play up the classic lines and colours all over the catwalk this season with an eternally elegant rope pearl necklace, or switch the daring up a notch and go for a high fashion pearl choker; thick or thin, you decide.

Our new suppliers, 'Jersey Pearl', have taken this theme to a new level, mixing the vintage imagJersey Pearl Twenties Inspired Pearl Jewellerye with modern designs to make sure every one of us can look as fabulous as we feel as our New Year begins! Take our 'Twenties Ritzy Pendant' for example; a beautiful, elegant design that is perfect to finish off your new cocktail dress or make you feel just a little bit special in your everyday outfit.

Last Posting Dates for Christmas 2011 Delivery

There's still plenty of time!

We use the Royal Mail for all of our deliveries. Our standard delivery method is 1st Class recorded or for an extra £3.00 you can upgrade to Special Delivery which guarantees delivery for the Next Working Day.

We despatch orders very quickly, very often the same day, but please remember that this is a very busy time of year for the Royal Mail!

To beat the Christmas rush, the Royal Mail have recommended that the last days for posting in time for Christmas are -

  • 1st Class Recorded Delivery (ie our Standard delivery option) is Tuesday 20th December
  • Special Delivery (ie upgrade your delivery to Next Working Day) is Thursday  22nd December

We obviously need to package up your jewellery and get it into the post to meet these deadlines, but we can still despatch the same day if you are able to place your order by 12.00 noon on either of the above dates.

We will still be despatching orders up to and including the 23rd December, but as the Royal Mail can't guarantee delivery for Christmas by then,  unfortunately we won't be able to either!  

Our shop will still be open until Christmas Eve of course, so if you are in the area, pop in instead!

Jersey Pearl Jewellery Now In Stock!

Fabulous new designs including the Twenties Collection

A brand new range of gorgeous pearl jewellery is now availableJersey Pearl Jewellery in our window display both online and in our shop, Jersey Pearl!

Jersey Pearl are a perfect partner for us, being lovers of all pearls! Many of you who have been to the island of Jersey will have visited their showroom over there. They believe that it doesn't matter so much whether a pearl is large or small, round or baroque, as long as it has excellent lustre and a clean surface, something we whole heartedly agree with!

This is one of the displays we have in the shop, and some have already been added to the website. We have put all of our Jersey Pearl Jewellery together to make life easier for you!

Jersey Pearl branded Packaging

 All of the jewellery comes in its own branded packaging and a full years guarantee.  

There is more to be added to the website yet, so watch out for that, but so far we love the Twenties Ritzy and Brooks Necklaces and Earrings, they are perfect for for Christmas Balls and parties when you want something special and perhaps a bit different!

 Twenties Brooks Pearl EarringsTwenties Ritzy Pearl EarringsTwenties Ritzy Pearl Pendant


As always if you are looking for something in particular, give us a call, we are always happy to help!