One of the best telling qualities of freshwater pearls are how they *shine*. The reflection on the pearl's surface shows value as a dull pearl can appear chalky and is less valuable. Essentially, brighter is better in this case!
Another key grading attribute is the shape of the pearl. Generally, a rounder pearl is more valuable. However - different pearl lovers have grown fond of the baroque and uniquely shaped pearls you can find in many designs of pearl jewelry. This is a more personal choice, but rounder pearl are given higher value and pricing.
While freshwater pearls can come in several natural pastel shades, the truer the color, the more valuable the pearl. This again, is something that many pearl lovers disagree on as each shade can be beautiful in its own right! I personally love the variety of coloring and shades pearls can pick up and love the different tones of pearls I have in my personal collection.
4. Surface Clarity
This clarity, like in diamonds, refers to the amount of blemishes that can be seen on the surface of the pearl. These are common in the form of "pearl wrinkles" or small scratches on the pearl's surface as pearls are very soft and delicate - they can even scratch each other if not stored carefully. For valuation, the smoother and clearer the pearl, the higher the value and pricing.
In a nutshell, size matters! The larger the pearl, the more expensive it will be. Freshwater pearls, even cultured can take up to 6 months to grow to a size usable for jewelry, and over 2 years to reach over 9mm in size. The slow process of this growth makes large pearls rare and much more valuable even with just a few millimeters in difference.
For more information on freshwater pearls, visit our Pearl Basics page!