The key to the perfect pearls is quality. Otherwise, you only have beads. There are several grading systems; however, they all grade according to luster, shape, surface/nacre, and size. Some grading systems take color into account.
Luster - This attribute is one of the most important factors in determining a pearl's value. The shinier the pearl is, the more valuable it is. A high-luster pearl will reflect light and images easily. A low-luster pearl will appear chalky or milky.
Shape - Shape is the second most important attribute in determining the value of a pearl. Perfectly symmetrical and round pearls are the most valuable. However, a shiny pearl that is not exactly round is more valuable than a perfectly round pearl that is not as shiny.
Color - Natural colors of pearls include: black, green-black, pink, silver, lilac, gold, cream, white, and silver. These colors come in various degrees of darkness. These colors depends on the type of mollusk or oyster that made them, as well as the quality, temperature, and salinity of the water they were grown in.
Surface/Nacre - Virtually all pearls will have a blemish of some sort. However, the least amount of blemishes, the better. Serious blemishes, such as cracks, should be avoided at all costs.
Size - The larger the pearl, the higher in value it is.
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