Matching Pearls for a Pearl Necklace

One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of making beautiful pearl jewellery, such as a pearl necklace, is to match the pearls together.

The highest value necklaces will consist of gem quality pearls that have a uniformity throughout the whole necklace. The harmony of a contemporary pearl necklace made of dark grey Tahitian pearls, for example, will be much enhanced if the lustre, colour and size of the pearls are considered.

Matching is also important with other types of jewellery such as pearl earrings. Small variations of colour in two golden South Sea pearls could create balance or a distracting imbalance in the overall look of the jewellery.

In order to match pearls, sometimes tens of thousands of loose pearls will need to be sorted. If the pearls are rare, or if a necklace requires many pearls, this puzzle becomes increasingly difficult. For this reason, it is no surprise that excellent matching of pearl jewellery, especially for rare luxury pearls, requires patience, a large inventory and skill.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which led the way in establishing a classification system for diamonds, defines Matching as one of seven key criteria for grading the quality of pearl jewellery. According to this leading gemological institution, pearls are graded according to size, shape, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality and finally matching.

To classify how well pearls are matched, an expert will assess the consistency of each GIA grading factor across each and every pearl before grading the Matching of the jewellery as:

  1. Excellent – Pearls are uniform in appearance and drilled on-centre
  2. Very Good – Pearls have very minor variations in uniformity
  3. Good – Pearls have minor variations in uniformity
  4. Fair – Pearls have noticeable variations in uniformity
  5. Poor – Pearls have very noticeable variations in uniformity
  6. N/A – Jewellery has a single pearl

As well as having many years of experience with pearls, the team at Winterson is trained in pearl grading by the GIA. Matching is one of the value factors that describes the pearl jewellery at Winterson. If you would like to know more about the quality of our pearls, or how we grade them, please do contact us.