Pearls are incomparable. They bring an element of glamour and classic style to any outfit they accessorize. However, few people understand the complexity of pearl harvesting, grading and sales. The industry has some marked differences from other fine jewelry categories. Whether you are shopping for a set of pearls for yourself or someone you love, or inheriting a family heirloom that includes pearls, a little background information on pearls certainly adds to the appreciation of the jewelry itself.
Pearls have been classics in the jewelry industry for centuries, and have been considered high class accessories for much longer than other favored jewelry pieces, including diamonds and other cut gemstones. Perhaps the most famous pearl in the world is La Peregrina. This pearl was found by an African slave in the mid-16th century, and, after many owners of royalty over the years, was later purchased by American actor Richard Burton as a gift for his then-wife Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor wore the pearl, which dangled elegantly from a choker for years – both onscreen and off – until she passed in 2014. After her passing, it was sold for over $10 million. The royal and celebrity history of this pearl would be more than enough to justify the extravagant cost, but the quality of the pearl itself was incomparable.
In fact, at the time it was discovered off the coast of Spain, La Peregrina was the largest pearl ever discovered. The record has since been surpassed by Pearl of Lau Tzu, which measures 9.45 inches in diameter to La Peregrina’s 1 inch in diameter. Size isn’t the only factor that determines the value of a pearl, though. La Peregrina excelled in many other categories as well. This includes shape, luster, and surface cleanliness. All are factored into the final grade of a pearl, which ranges from A, AA, and AAA, increasing in value respectively (although some sellers will grade on an ‘A to D’ grading system, most rely on this ‘Triple A’ scale to communicate overall worth).
Pearls hold a very special place in the world of fine jewelry. Of course, looking at the beauty of a well-developed pearl puts it all into perspective. Pearls lend an air of classic beauty to your look, and are a fashion statement that goes an incredibly long way. Pearls convey a strong independence and grace that just cannot be recreated by diamonds or other gemstones. Maybe that is why they have been celebrated throughout history and across cultures as symbols of wealth and status. Find the perfect pearl for your collection today.