February 10, 2021

What Should I Look for When Buying a Pearl Necklace?

Most jewelry shoppers are familiar enough with the different characteristics of gemstones to make a smart and stunning purchase. But, when it comes to pearls, many shoppers are completely baffled! Nacre? Luster? Cultured? Freshwater? Saltwater? The varied and often confusing aspects of pearl shopping can make it hard to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Here are some tips to help. Use this list of what to look for if you’re buying a pearl necklace to make sure your choice is perfect for your budget, style, and preferences: cultured vs. natural, color, luster, shape, & surface markings.

Cultured vs. Natural

Pearls are made when a mollusk (like an oyster) accidentally ingests a small stone and then, over time, covers the stone with layers of minerals and proteins called nacres. Natural pearls come from a mollusk that ingested a stone by chance, while cultured pearls are made when humans implant a stone into a mollusk with the intent of making a pearl.

While some shoppers assume that natural is better, cultured pearls are actually what make up the vast majority of the market since natural ones are so rare. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a cultured pearl. In fact, many are better than natural since their creation is controlled!


Pearls aren’t just white – they come in many different colors, from pink and gold to black, silver, white rose, and even green and blue. A good rule of thumb is, the rarer the color, the more valuable the pearls. Though the color of your pearl necklace is ultimately a matter of preference and style, it’s best to look for a color that is deep, rich, and evenly dispersed around the pearl.


Luster describes the deep, colorful shine that seems to emanate from the center of a pearl. Luster doesn’t come from within the pearl – it’s actually a product of light reflecting off the layers of proteins and minerals that make up the pearl. These layers are called “nacre.” The larger the pearl, the more luster it will have since bigger pearls have more nacre.


Not all pearls are perfectly round. In fact, perfectly round pearls are incredibly rare and therefore very valuable. Pearls come in a range of shapes, including oval, button, baroque, and teardrop. Freshwater pearls are generally off round or oval, while South Sea, Akoya, and Tahitian are the roundest varieties.

Though round pearls are technically more valuable, off-round are still beautiful when made into a necklace, as their unique shapes make for interesting designs.

Surface Markings

Some pearls have tiny marks and blemishes from particles that drift into the mollusk while the pearl is forming. The fewer surface markings a pearl has, the more valuable it is.

Find Your Perfect Pearl Necklace at F. Silverman Jewelers

Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from finding the pearl necklace of your dreams. The team of expert jewelers at F. Silverman Jewelers is ready and waiting to help you make the right selection for your style, preferences, and price point. Stop by and visit our Woodcliff Lake showroom today.

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