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Daniel Konstantinov
Daniel Konstantinov

How To Buy Pearls Online ((EXCLUSIVE))

Mikimoto is a specialty retailer that sells high end pearls exclusively. The top 1% of Mikimoto pearls (typically costing $20,000+ per piece) are untouched in the industry. But not all their pearls reach these lofty quality standards.

how to buy pearls online

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In fact, Mikimoto will often take one or two extremely high end pieces and ship them from store to store to show off. The rest of their pearls are high quality, but are closely matched by more affordable brands.

At the end of the day, the two safest places to purchase pearls are at a dedicated online boutique, or a luxury pearl retailer. Other stores may offer solid quality pearls, but they usually come with sky-high markups and are hit-or-miss in terms of quality.

Larger pearls require much more time acquiring thicker nacre layers in the host oyster, and the amount of risk, time and labor that goes into culturing a single 15.0mm fine quality South Sea pearl (for example) is quite a lot ... uses the A-AAA Grading Scale, which is a simple and straight forward grading system based upon specific percentages for attributes like surface blemishing, luster rating (the sharpness of reflections), color/overtone and shape, among others. The A-AAA scale is used most commonly with Akoya and Freshwater pearls, but also converts easily from the Tahitian and South Sea grading scales.

The deeper and more intense the luster is, the more valuable the pearl. Look for pearls that display reflected light sources as crisp, clean and delineated, with only slight blurring around the edges.

You should also be able to recognize some of your facial features reflected in the surface of the pearl. AAA quality pearls feature the best luster, AA+ quality pearls should have Very High luster and so on.

While Mikimoto definitely does carry beautiful quality pearls, doing a little bit of homework can save you THOUSANDS by avoiding the high premiums charged by luxury brands without sacrificing quality.

Pearl jewelry at James Allen ranges in price from under $500 up to $6000. These are standard prices for high quality pearl jewelry, with no premium or middle man. James Allen has South Sea pearls, Akoya pearls, and Tahitian pearls. They also carry freshwater pearl jewelry as well.

They have a wide range of options when it comes to pearl jewelry, whether you're looking for small pearls or large. When shopping for pearls, luster is the most important factor. Luster is the light reflected off the surface of the pearl.

Most online jewelry stores will only show you images of their pearls, but James Allen shows you the luster in action via their 360 viewing technology. Check out these exquisite pink sapphire and pink pearl earrings set in 14K white gold below and see its 360 view here:

Blue Nile has many different pieces of pearl jewelry. They sell high-quality real pearls, but once again, all of them are cultured. As far as pearl types go, you can find both gold and white South sea pearls as well as Akoya pearls and Tahitian pearls.

The prices of pearl jewelry at Blue Nile start around $250 and climb exponentially very quickly. Most of the cheaper freshwater pearls will be under $500. Any specially named pearls will command a much higher price, like this beautiful strand of multicolor pearls with an 18K white gold clasp:

In fact, my favorite thing about Blue Nile's pearl collection is that they have many unique pearl settings that you don't see very often. Blue Nile carries some of the finest high end jewelry around and has a great reputation among online jewelry stores. They offer free returns, 30 day return policy, and free shipping.

Brilliant Earth is a well-known online diamond retailer that also sells a large collection of gemstone jewelry. They focus their efforts in the diamond industry to giving back to the community and many collections go toward a cause.

The problem is they don't really tell you about it on their site unless you go searching for it. If you don't talk to anyone, you might miss it. The warranty has to be called and added on after you make your purchase online.

Back when I was working, they sold a lot of Mikimoto pearls around Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. The in-store collection will feature freshwater cultured pearl jewelry with no known origin often set with white sapphires or cubic zirconia, instead of diamond.

If you're looking for a specific pearls, like a white South Sea pearl or a Tahitian black pearl, you're going to have better luck finding it online. For instance, a chocolate pearl might catch your eye.

Chocolate pearls are Tahitian pearls that have been bleached to give a rich and velvety brown color. Many companies have chosen to brand these pearls, such as Kay's partner, LeVian. Check out this chocolate pearl ring set in 14K rose gold with LeVian's chocolate and vanilla diamonds:

But, keep in mind that the LeVian name is where a good chunk of that price goes to. I have no doubts you can find a less expensive chocolate pearl in the jewelry market online. But if you like unique, LeVian is a great option.

I do not recommend pearls for engagement rings. Pearls are one of the softest popular gemstones available in the jewelry industry. On the Moh scale of hardness, pearls rate a 2.5 out of 10. Diamond is a 10, making it the hardest mineral known to man.

You might wonder why they sell pearl rings at all if they're so fragile. Well, just because I said I don't recommend it, doesn't mean it's not possible. With the proper precautions, you can wear pearls as an engagement ring.

As a rule of thumb, you should pretty much consider all pearls cultured unless explicitly stated otherwise. Drilled pearls are also lower quality and limit jewelry designs, so you should always look for undrilled pearls.

Natural pearls are by far the most expensive, but cultured pearls can get up there in price as well. Most pearl jewelry price depends on any accompanying melee gemstones, setting, and how much precious metal there is.

A round white pearl ring will be much cheaper than a strand of 48 round pearls. If the shape of your pearls is oval or teardrop, you'll notice that the prices of the pearl strand will drop. For irregular shapes throughout the strand, they'll be even cheaper.

Completely round pearls may be more valuable, but pearl jewelry of all shapes and sizes have become very mainstream. Many prefer pearl shapes outside of the round, like seeds. So, if you're wanting round pearls, be prepared for them to have a premium price.

All pearls have a base color on the body and what we call an orient, which is a color overtone. To tell the difference between the a pearl's body color and orient or overtone color, a bright light on the pearl will distinguish the two.

Freshwater pearls, Akoya pearls, and South Sea pearls can have white body colors. After white, Tahitian black pearls are the next coveted type of pearl. These pearls have a grayish to greenish body color.

There are less common pearls colors that are valuable for their natural rarity to include red, pink, blue, purple, and gold pearl strands. Natural pearls in these colors are difficult to obtain. If the colors are all uniform in pearl necklaces, they're more likely to be dyed.

An orient is in an iridescent sheen found in a pearl. An overtone is when the pearl shows large blotches of another color in its body color. White pearls with a pink overtone are considered rare and desirable in the pearl community.

In the current market, Akoya pearls with a pink overtone are most valued, but blue Akoya pearls are very rare. You'll come across treated pearls that can emulate these looks, but when natural, these kinds of pearls go for a higher price.

Gold pearls from the South Sea are also very rare to find naturally, but treated gold pearls are much easier to find. However, if you do come across a golden South Sea pearl, know that you are witnessing a rarity among the pearl industry that would make a nice investment.

Most of the pearl market is 90% opaque, but a translucent pearl is desirable. Translucent pearls happen when the nacre is comprised of thinner layers. Natural pearls and freshwater pearls can have higher translucency in the pearl industry. The thickness of the nacre will have a solid impact of the value and quality of the pearl.

While thinner nacre can improve translucency, it also has a habit of impacting it as well. Often times thinner nacre doesn't always cover the entire pearl perfectly in a solid layer. If the layer is too thin or uneven, your pearls can appear dirtied and dull.

The best pearls on the market will have high luster. The luster of a pearl determines how reflective the surface. Even if there isn't an industry standard on pearls, luster is often what separates an AAA grade pearl from an AA grade pearl for most companies. Pearls of Joy, a big pearl source, has a great video that demonstrates these differences.

Normally, we talk about gemstones in carat weight, but sometimes we refer to colored gemstones in size. Pearls are the same. While smaller pearls don't command large prices, larger pearls can increase cost significantly. Natural pearls over 8mm increase price drastically.

The size of a pearl can range based on the type of pearl. For example, South Sea pearls will grow larger than Akoya pearls. However, it's very difficult to find natural pearls of large size, if any size at all. Most large pearls that are pretty affordable will be cultured.

The biggest red flag you'll come across when looking at pearls online is misrepresentation. Shopping for pearls in general can be pretty overwhelming, because they're unlike any other gemstone.

The biggest confusion that pearls ignite in a buyer is the differentiation between natural and cultured pearls. Similar to natural and lab created diamonds, the main difference between a natural and cultured pearl is the way the pearl was formed.

Natural pearls occur when an irritant is introduced to the mussel or oyster in a natural habitat. Cultured pearls come from pearl farms. Pearl farmers physically introduce the irritant to an oyster or mussel and it begins covering it with nacre. 041b061a72


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