For Love or Luster?
I have a lot of people asking me about pearls and what to look for when buying them
You can evaluate a piece of pearl jewelry on the following quality factors but remember in the end it all comes down to personal preference.

A pearl is formed when an irritant such as a parasite or piece of organic matter, becomes embedded in the soft tissue of an oyster or mollusk. The oyster/mollusk then secretes calcium carbonate and a fibrous protein called conchiolin to surround the irritant in layers. The layers are called nacre which eventually forms a pearl.

There are natural pearls and cultured pearls, the difference being natural pearls are those which are formed in nature with out the help of man. Cultured pearls are started by inserting a foreign object into the tissue of the mollusk. The same reaction occurs and the mollusk starts the natural process of creating a pearl.
LUSTRE:  Luster is a combination of surface brilliance and a deep seated glow. The luster of a good quality pearl should be bright and not dull. Any pearl that appears too white, dull or chalky indicates low quality.

SURFACE: Smooth pearls without any irregularities such as cracks or bumps are more valuable. Irregular pearls have become increasingly popular in the use of everyday jewellery pieces due to there affordability and have become quite fashionable. Irregular pearls of high luster can create lots of interest in a piece of jewellery.

SHAPE: Generally specking, rounder pearls are more valuable. Since pearls are grown by oysters in nature, it is very rare to find a perfectly round pearl.  Baroque pearls, which are asymmetrical in shape, can be lustrous, appealing and also very desirable.

COLOR: Pearls come in a wide array of colors from white, rose to black. Most are treated to enhance the color. The color of a pearl is a matter of the wearer’s preference.

SIZE: Pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters. They can range in size from less then a millimeter to over twenty millimeters like a large South Sea pearl. The larger the pearl, all other factors being equal, the more valuable it will be.