Understanding Pearl Quality: What to Look for in the Highest Quality Pearl?

December 12, 2018 0 Comments


In the jewelry industry, there is no universal standard to decide the highest quality pearl. Everyone grades and decides quality differently. So, the question that immediately follows that statement is then: How do I know I’m getting the highest quality pearl?

Excellent luster & minimum flaws.

Those two factors will lead you to the highest quality pearl. Although there are loads of value factors that different vendors put more emphasis on than others, seeking out excellent luster and a flawless surface will set you on the right path to distinguishing the highest quality pearl.

In this post we’ll discuss everything there is to know about pearl quality. How to tell a low-quality pearl from a high-quality pearl? What factors go into deciding the concrete quality of a pearl? And much, much more.

Here is everything you need to know about understanding pearl quality:

Luster & Flaw: The Deciders of Pearl Quality

As stated before, Kyllonen Luxury emphasizes luster and flaw when deciding on the quality of a pearl. These two significant factors are the most noticeable things when you take a first glance at a pearl. So, we’ll discuss them in great detail. Let’s start with luster:

What is Pearl Luster?

Luster put simply, is how much shine and reflection a pearl gives off. Sometimes luster is put into terms of how much facial recognition you can see within the pearl. But it’s easier to understand if you just think of luster as the measure of how much light is reflected off of a pearl's surface. Also, how crisp is this reflection? Are the edges of the light reflection blurred? If so, that pearl has low luster.

Since luster is one of the only value factors that can be seen from a distance with the naked eye, it is of extreme significance. Luster is the highest factor that Kyllonen uses when grading our pearls, deciding on a pearl’s quality, and setting a value to that pearl. At Kyllonen, our Gem Grade pearls have “excellent luster” meaning the highest quality luster there is.

Kyllonen takes things a step further and uses a standard set of pearls as a grading guide to measure luster against all other pearls to ensure consistency in quality.

What are Pearl Flaws?


Flaw encompasses the blemishes and imperfections on a pearl’s surface. Kyllonen uses a much higher standard when evaluating flaws compared to many retailers today. Our top pearls will be worn without visible blemishes.

Pearl strands are usually graded as a whole for flaws rather than individually because they are composed of multiple pearls. Since flaws mostly can’t be seen up close there is less emphasis put on this factor when deciding a pearl’s quality.

Flaws can come in a variety of types such as pits, dents, and imperfections. Pits are the least acceptable flaw due to their unattractive appearance. Mottling, or as we call it, skin, can appear almost as small wrinkles or wavering in the surface skin of the pearl. Although, molting is technically not considered a flaw. This is because it usually indicates thick nacre. However, excessive skin can distract from the overall beauty and is sometimes a negative against a pearls grading.

When grading pearls, which does not directly relate to the exact quality of a pearl, flaws are unacceptable in Gem Grade pearls. Gem Grade pearls, the highest quality pearls Kyllonen offers, are considered flawless - 0 dents, 0 pits, 0 imperfections. A pearl of this kind is extremely high in quality. Even our AA+ show very few flaws as we only carry the top-quality pearls available. Be sure to look out for any surface flaws when shopping for high-quality pearls.

Additional Pearl Quality Factors


While flaw and luster are extremely significant when deciding on a pearl’s quality, there are other factors that go into a final decision of a pearl's quality. From color to size, pearl quality is not a limited field.

Here are a few more factors that are crucial for understanding pearl quality:


Depending on the pearl type, color is of more importance. For example, color is extremely important when deciding the quality of Tahitian or Black pearls. Since Tahitian pearls have a green hue, the higher the saturation of green, the better quality the pearl. On the contrary, high-quality freshwater pearls feature a full-body striking white color but do come in a variety of different colors. Overall if the pearl has very high saturation, the pearl will be higher quality.


Pearls come in a variety of shapes and some are rarer than others. The highest valued pearls have a perfectly round shape. It’s important to note that every shape of pearl can be graded using a grading system such as Gem-AA+ however, they may have a different value. Lesser valued pearls can come in all different shapes such as:

  • Semi-round
  • Button
  • Drop
  • Circle
  • Baroque


Matching mostly applies to strands, bracelets, and earrings. Matching is the measure of how well the pearls in a jewelry piece match each other. Are the pearls on the strand of the same luster? Are the two pearls in a pair of earrings the same size? Do the pearls within a bracelet strand have the same saturation? Matching pearls makes better quality jewelry.

These are just a few of the many, many factors that go into understanding pearl quality. Truly being fluent in pearl quality takes years and years of studying. Luckily Kyllonen Luxury has done just that. Hopefully, by now you have a more concrete understanding of pearl quality. Keep all this in mind when you buy your next piece of pearl jewelry!