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Pearl Grading

Unlike diamonds, there is no universally accepted grading system for pearls. This can make choosing pearl jewellery very confusing, since different jewellers may use different scales. The problem is that so many of the qualities of pearls, such as lustre and shape, are subjective and can be seen differently by different people (sometimes deliberately so).

Perfect pearls, which are perfectly round and flawless across their entire surface are incredibly rare, and so unless you are prepared to spend a fortune, you should expect some deviation from the ideal.

AAA pearl grading

Many pearl jewellers will use a pearl grading scheme based on A, AA or AAA, however there is no set standard for any of these grades. One pearl jeweller’s AAA rating may be different from another’s. To confuse matters further, Tahitian pearls are often graded A to D.

Occasionally, pearl jewellers will try to go one better than their competition by using AAAA or AAA+ pearl jewellery grades, however this is often meaningless exaggeration and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Below is an approximate guide to the grades used by most reputable pearl jewellers:

LustreExcellent / v. goodGoodAverage
SurfaceOver 95% cleanOver 75% cleanOver 50% clean
ShapeRoundAlmost roundNear round
NacreOver 0.50mmOver 0.35mmOver 0.25mm
MatchingClosely matchedGood matchFair match

Absolute Pearls grading

At Absolute Pearls, we are aware that certain less reputable pearl jewellers have brought the grading system into disrepute by over grading their pearls and exaggerating their qualities, making the AAA system less reliable as an objective guide. However, we also appreciate that many pearl jewellery buyers still rely on the AAA grading system for choosing their pearls.

To give you the best possible information about our pearls, we combine both AAA grading and written descriptions of our pearls, so that you know exactly what you are getting. For example:

  • Pearl Lustre: High AA+
  • Pearl Overtone: Green/Blue
  • Pearl Surface: Excellent AAA

You will see on each product detail page our grading for those particular pearls.