What are the Best Pearls to Buy?

With a heritage of working with pearls for over 50 years, one of the most frequent questions that we are asked at Winterson is what are the best pearls to buy. In this article we look at the most popular types of pearls and some tips to consider.

The classic pearl

The most popular image of the pearl is the classic round white pearl, draped in long elegant flowing strands, worn as a pretty stud earring or as a symbolic piece of jewellery for a new bride.

Akoya Pearl Jewellery Sets

Image: Classic Akoya Pearl Jewellery Set

These styles will always be fashionable and versatile, but there are many other wonderful colours, sizes and shapes of pearls to buy. Before making a decision, it can be worthwhile exploring a little more about this beautiful gem.

Types of pearls

There are four main types of cultured pearl, including Freshwater pearls and three types of saltwater pearl known as Akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls.

Their size can range from as little as 1.5mm in diameter to as much as 20mm in diameter, with round, drop, oval and asymmetric baroque shapes. Their natural colours can include creamy whites, pastel shades of pink, peach and apricot, cooler hues of silver, grey, blue, purple and black and the warm opulence of gold.

Pearl shapes

Image: Freshwater and Saltwater Pearl Shapes

Each pearl will also have been carefully cultured in a mussel or oyster for between 6 months and 3 years and their quality, uniqueness and rarity will increase their value. The difference in price between a small pearl with poor lustre and a perfectly round, excellent lustre pearl can be significant.

Is there a best pearl to buy?

There really is no straightforward answer as to 'what are the best pearls to buy' or 'what are the best pearls in the world'. If you are thinking of purchasing or wearing a piece of pearl jewellery, our advice would be to always consider the grading of the pearl, particularly its lustre, and how the design of the jewellery complements the pearl.

Pearl grading

Choose a piece of pearl jewellery that has been graded by an expert. There are several different grading systems used across the industry. We use the GIA Pearl Description System to describe the pearls in our jewellery, as this is one of the best known and reputable.

We also contract an independent organisation called Feefo to ask all our customers for their genuine feedback on each purchase from Winterson. This feedback is unedited by us and is published on our and Feefo's websites, acting as a marker of the quality you can expect from a Winterson pearl.

Do be careful when no information about a pearl is presented or when a pearl is described as being of AAAA quality.

The importance of lustre

Lustre is a grading factor that is used to describe how a pearl reflects light from its surface. This is one of a pearl's best qualities and is quite unlike any other gem. The best pearls to buy should have lustre that is sharp and mirror-like, catching the light and the eye.

Best Pearls to Buy

Image 1: Freshwater Drop Pearl and Diamond Pendant in White Gold
Image 2: White Gold Diamond Leverback And Akoya Pearl Earrings

One of our favourite pearls is the classic Akoya pearl, which is admired for its stunning lustre, as shown above with our Leverback earrings.

Beautiful jewellery design

Our third recommendation would be to choose a design that shows off the best features of the pearl. For example, we love the way that our Luna Rose Tahitian Pearl and Sapphire Ring, pictured above, contrasts the round shape and unusual aubergine colour of the Tahitian pearl with the rectangular shape and candy colour of the pink sapphire gem.

Using colourful gemstones to draw out the pearl’s myriad overtones is one technique that we use at Winterson. You can read more about our design inspirations and how we work with colour here.

If you have any questions about the best pearls to buy, our jewellery or our website, our Customer Care team would be happy to help you. Or learn more about the different Types of Pearls in our Guide to Buying Pearls here.