Pearl necklaces are the epitome of beauty and elegance in fashion, from the La Peregrina pearl most famously worn by Elizabeth Taylor to the Hope Pearl, sharing its' namesake with the Hope Diamond. We usually associate pearls either to high class fashionistas or to something that we find in our grandmother's jewelry box from ages ago, maybe even handed down from her mother. But how much exactly do these strands of pearls cost? And what makes them so special?
Pearl necklaces can range anywhere from $300 to $100,000 depending on the type of pearl and color. There are many different types of pearls, natural, cultured and fake. Knowing between each is incredibly important when you're looking into buying or selling pearl jewelry- it'll help you make the best decision on your investment.
With so much information to sort though, it may seem rather daunting to even begin, but don't fret, we went ahead and did the work for you, just keep reading.
How Much Does a Pearl Necklace Cost?
Pearl necklaces are a relatively expensive investment, so knowing what you're looking at is incredibly important. This way you will know that you're getting is worth the price you pay. There are many different types of pearls, all either natural or cultured, but what are the differences?
Natural VS. Cultured Pearls
Natural pearls are made when an irritant naturally gets in the oyster, such as dust or dirt, and the oyster's natural reaction is to try to expel the unknown substance in a process that eventually turns the dirt or dust into a pearl. Cultured pearls are made in almost the same way, except that the dust or dirt is manually put in the oyster by a farmer, and it yields a much higher amount of pearls at a time.
Natural pearls are rarer, and can be much more expensive, needing almost 100,000 or more oysters to fully complete a necklace, whereas cultured pearls are made en mass, making them less expensive and much more prominent. Natural and cultured pearls are almost nearly identical, so for the everyday person cultured pearls are the more affordable option. Both natural and cultured pearls can be either fresh or saltwater, without really having an impact on the value of the pearl in itself, however the color of the pearls and the location it was found or made does.
The most well known type of pearls are Akoya, which range anywhere from $300 to $10,000, South Sea pearls, which can be anywhere from $1000 to $100,000, and Tahitian pearls which can range anywhere from $500 to $25,000, with Akoya pearls being the classic, elegant white pearl we think of when we hear the word.
Each different pearl is known for the location they were found in and depending on what material the pearl starts out as, can be anywhere from white, pink, black or gold in color.
What Color Pearl is Most Expensive?
Pearls come in many different colors and sizes, usually depending on where they were made, what material they started out as and how long they were allowed to grow.
White, Gold, and Pink
South Sea pearls are usually the larger of the pearls you will be able to find, and according to PearlParadise, are natively made and found in Australia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia. These pearls are usually white, gold, and sometimes occasionally pink. Their size and unique colors make them the most expensive pearl you can find, capping price at $100, 000 per necklace.
Tahitian pearls are also incredibly unique, being one of the only types of pearls that are naturally black in color. They are found and made in Tahiti and can cap in price at $25,000 a necklace, making them the second most expensive pearl in the market.
The classic Akoya pearl comes in third, capping at $10,000 a necklace, and are found and made in mainly Japan and China.
Do Pearls Hold Their Value?
Pearl necklaces can really go for a lot, but you'd be hard pressed to find pearls in a pawn shop as frequently as you would find gold. Why would that be? Well, the answer lies in how the pearls are taken care of in the long run.
Natural and cultured pearls may be expensive, but there's a reason cultured pearls are much cheaper than natural ones. Natural pearls are much rarer to find than cultured pearls, and they are inherently more expensive- and hold their value a lot better than cultured pearls.
Cultured pearls hold on to a little of their value as they get older, but because there are so many more being made and found, it diminishes their value over time. They're more likely to be the necklaces handed down generations than being resold and antiqued.
Natural pearls resell for a lot more due to their rarity.
How Can You Tell Real Pearls?
Telling real pearls from fake pearls is relatively easy, however, telling natural from cultured is a bit more difficult. Fake pearls are usually glass or plastic coated in paint or enamel to make them stronger. there are several different ways to tell which is which, and its recommended to try at least two before verifying.
Look for Minor Imperfections.
Natural and cultured pearls are rarely ever perfect. Looking for natural imperfections in the pearl is a real sure way of determining if your jewelry is real or not. Small divot or curves in your pearls means it was naturally grown, perfectly round pieces may indicate that it is a fraud.
Look for a Healthy Luster and Shine.
Fake pearls are usually glossy and very finished looking, whereas real pearls have a natural sheen and luster to them. Some real pearls have been finished though, so always double check through a different method to verify if yours is real or not.
Look for a Colored Overtone.
Real pearls always have colored overtones when you look at them, and that's a real defining factor to if its real or not. Look for that slight mother-of-pearl finish on your jewelry.
Get an Appraisal.
When in doubt, get a professional opinion. It's always good to have a second opinion as well. Someone who has all the professional tools will be able to give you a solid answer on the value of your jewelry.
The Beauty of Pearls is Priceless
All in all, pearls are a very beautiful and classy piece of jewelry to have whether you're buying new or been given your grandmother's. The cost of the jewelry may vary though depending on type, size, color, and location, making your pearls worth more or less than others. All in all, its a good thing to know more about if you're thinking of investing in a set or looking to sell older pieces.