Each pearl harvested is as individual as a fingerprint, making it essential to establish quality grading standards. As the Originator of Cultured Pearls, Mikimoto maintains the strictest standards. Here are the five factors we use to assess quality - keep them in mind when you are buying pearls:
Luster is the amount of light a pearl reflects... both from its surface glow and its inner light, a deep mirror-like reflection. The better the nacre quality of the pearl, the more superior its luster. Only the highest quality pearls with the most luminous luster carry the Mikimoto name.
Subtle blemishes and tiny marks are part of a pearl's natural texture and proof of its genuine origin. These blemishes result from sea particles that drift into the oyster and brush against the pearl as it forms. Fewer surface imperfections denote a higher quality, more valuable pearl.
Of the many shapes available, perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. With Mikimoto South Sea pearls, unique shapes like button, tear drop, oval and baroque are also favored.
Pearls vary widely in color, based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colors range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and
pink rosé are among the most popular Akoya colors; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While color choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich color that is evenly distributed throughout the pearl.
While size does not affect the quality of cultured pearls, it does affect the price. Large pearls are more difficult to cultivate because oysters often reject the large implanted nucleus; their rarity creates
higher value. Pearls are measured in diameter increments of millimeters (mm). The classic Akoya pearl generally ranges from 3mm to 10mm. South Sea pearls begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 18mm.