Pearl Surface Blemishes & Flaws

February 13, 2019 0 Comments

Pearls are created through a biological process in which they are grown inside living beings. Mollusks, primarily oysters, create pearls inside their shells, which they can do entirely on their own, or with the help of human interference.

Whether pearls are cultured or created naturally, they are still formed organically, which is precisely why they are not always perfectly shaped, nor is their surface always absolutely flawless. Mother Nature nearly always leaves its mark, so pearls with a completely clean surface are extremely rare.

The more flawless a pearl is, the more expensive it is, but pearl blemishes and flaws on the surface actually indicate that a pearl is authentic. Nevertheless, their value greatly depends on their blemishes, so read on to find out which pearl flaws to look out for when choosing your pearl jewelry.

The Most Common Types of Pearl Flaws



The following are the most common types of pearl flaws, not all of which are used in pearl grading. Some of them don’t affect the quality and durability of pearls at all.

Bulleting or Mottling

A bullet or mottle represents a light plating pattern that appears on a pearl surface while a mollusk is growing the pearl. This is one of the few pearl blemishes that does not actually affect the grading of a pearl because it shows that the nacre used to form the pearl is dense and strong.

Bumps or Welts

Bumps or welts are pearl flaws that you can easily see with your naked eye. They are irregular bumps that appear when a lot of nacre is secreted to form a pearl.


Representing a growth characteristic, circles are concentric rings around the surface of a pearl. They are common in Baroque pearls, and they can be either very subtle or in a group.


Clips are very common in pearls formed with very thin nacre. They’re small holes in the pearl surface which greatly affect the appearance, quality, and durability of a pearl.


Similar to clips cracks greatly affect a pearl’s durability and, needless to say, quality and appearance. They can resemble wrinkles or hairs.

Dark Spots

Dark spots on the surface of a pearl can be subtle, but they can also concentrate in one area and can be very visible. Luckily, they can be removed during the bleaching process.

Dents or Divots

Dents or divots are pearl blemishes that are easily seen with the naked eye. They can differ in depth and shallowness, and they can either match the color of a pearl or have a greyish/brownish tone.

Dull Spots



Dull spots can be formed when nacre isn’t secreted evenly, but this affects only the pearl’s luster, not its durability.

Knobs or Tips

Knobs or tips are actually extrusions, which don’t affect a pearl’s durability unless they’re chipped. They are short, long, pointed or bubble-shaped growths that are formed on one end of a Baroque pearl.

Pin Pricks

Pin pricks are tiny pearl blemishes in the nacre that can be either individual or grouped together. They can either match a pearl’s color or not have color at all.

Score Marks

Score marks are typically not seen with the naked eye, and they can often be colorless. They’re very light and thin lines within the nacre.

Being aware of these common types of pearl flaws will help you shop for your favorite jewelry more wisely. However, if you’re not looking for perfection but rather one-of-a-kind pearls, most of these pearl blemishes will give your jewelry a unique and artistic flair.

For exquisite, flawless pearl jewelry, shop with Kyllonen Luxury today!