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Pearl Grading

pearl grading

pearl sizing

Understanding pearl grading is crucial in order to purchase the highest quality pearls at the best possible value. While other gems such as diamonds have standardized grading systems that allow uniformity in the consumer market, unfortunately the pearl industry has not adopted a universal grading system.

This sometimes results in confused customers who find it hard to make an "apple-to-apples" comparison when looking at pearl jewelry on multiple websites. Laguna Pearl follows the most commonly accepted pearl grading system, which is the AAAA quality system. Please scroll down below to view our grading tables for each pearl type.

It is important to note that often times grading is subjective and consumers might be told that they are getting "AAAA Quality" pearls, when in fact the pearls are of lesser quality. This is the reason why it is CRUCIAL to work with companies who have solid reputations in their industries, as well as ample reviews from similar customers such as yourself.

Please feel free to thoroughly review our Testimonials page, as well as our independent reviews on Trust Pilot and our A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau. At Laguna Pearl, our reputation and credibility speaks for itself. Simply put, we pride ourselves on offering the highest quality pearl jewelry at the most affordable prices.

It is important to note that often times grading is subjective and consumers might be told that they are getting "AAAA Quality" pearls, when in fact the pearls are of lesser quality. This is the reason why it is CRUCIAL to work with companies who have solid reputations in their industries, as well as ample reviews from similar customers such as yourself.

freshwater
japanese akoya
tahitian south sea
white & golden south sea
freshwater
japanese akoya
tahitian south sea
white & golden south sea
freshwater

Freshwater pearls typically range in size from 6mm to 12mm, though occasionally some larger sizes can be found. Freshwater pearls below 7mm are considered small in size. 7mm through 9mm are generally the more popular sizes selected for necklaces, while anything above 10mm is considered to be more rare and valuable, especially in the higher qualities. Typically the larger the freshwater pearl the more difficult it is to find a round, lustrous pearl in that size. This is especially the case in pearls over 10mm in size.

A AA AAA AAAA
Information Low Quality Freshwater representing tde bottom 60% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl) Medium-Grade Freshwater representing top 20% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl) High-Grade Freshwater representing tde top 10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores. High-Grade Freshwater representing tde top 10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
Surface Heavy Blemishing witd only 50% or less clean surface. Minor to medium blemishing witd a 70-80% clean surface. Minor Blemishing witd at least 90% of tde pearl surface clean. Very Minor to no blemishing witd at least 95% of tde pearl surface clean.
Luster Poor Medium High Very High
Shape Off Round Off Round Near Round to Round Round
Information
A
Low Quality Freshwater representing tde bottom 60% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl)
AA
Medium-Grade Freshwater representing top 20% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl)
AAA
High-Grade Freshwater representing the top 10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
AAAA
High-Grade Freshwater representing the top 10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
Surface
A
Heavy Blemishing with only 50% or less clean surface.
AA
Minor to medium blemishing with a 70-80% clean surface.
AAA
Minor Blemishing with at least 90% of the pearl surface clean.
AAAA
Very Minor to no blemishing with at least 95% of the pearl surface clean.
Luster
A
Poor
AA
Medium
AAA
High
AAAA
Very High
Shape
A
Off Round
AA
Off Round
AAA
Near Round to Round
AAAA
Round
japanese akoya

Akoya pearls range in size from as small as 4.0mm to as large as 10.0mm. Akoya pearls below 7.0mm in size are considered to be below-average in size. Necklaces ranging from 7.0mm to 8.0mm are generally more popular, while anything above 8.0mm is considered to be more rare and valuable, especially in higher qualities. Laguna Pearl is proud to offer one of the most extensive akoya pearl collections on the internet. Furthermore, we are one of the only companies to have akoya pearl necklaces that are sized at 9.5- 10.0mm in size, which are among the rarest akoya pearls in the world!

A AA AA+ AAA HANADAMA
Information Low Quality Akoya representing the bottom 50% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl) Medium-Grade Akoya representing top 60% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl) High-Grade Akoya representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores. High-Grade Akoya representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores. GEM Quality Akoya representing the highest 1% of a pearl harvest. Accompanied by numbered certificate by the Pearl Science Laboratory of Japan.
Surface Heavy Blemishing with only 50% or less clean surface. Minor to medium blemishing witd a 70-80% clean surface. Minor Blemishing witd at least 90% of tde pearl surface clean. Very Minor to no blemishing witd at least 95% of tde pearl surface clean. 99% or cleaner pearl surface with either very minor to no blemishes visible.
Luster Poor Medium High Very High Superior
Nacre Thin Medium Thick Very Thick Very Thick
Shape Round/Off Round Round Perfectly Round Perfectly Round Perfectly Round
Information
A
Low Quality Akoya representing the bottom 50% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl)
AA
Medium-Grade Akoya representing top 60% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl)
AA+
High-Grade Akoya representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
AAA
High-Grade Akoya representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
HANADAMA
GEM Quality Akoya representing the highest 1% of a pearl harvest. Accompanied by numbered certificate by the Pearl Science Laboratory of Japan.
Surface
A
Heavy Blemishing with only 50% or less clean surface.
AA
Minor to medium blemishing witd a 70-80% clean surface.
AA+
Minor Blemishing witd at least 90% of tde pearl surface clean.
AAA
Very Minor to no blemishing witd at least 95% of tde pearl surface clean.
HANADAMA
99% or cleaner pearl surface with either very minor to no blemishes visible.
Luster
A
Poor
AA
Medium
AA+
High
AAA
Very High
HANADAMA
Superior
Nacre
A
Thin
AA
Medium
AA+
Thick
AAA
Very Thick
HANADAMA
Very Thick
Shape
A
Round/Off Round
AA
Round
AA+
Perfectly Round
AAA
Perfectly Round
HANADAMA
Perfectly Round
tahitian

Tahitian pearls generally range in size from as small as 8mm to as large as 16mm. Pearls below 10mm are typically considered small in size. 10mm until 12mm are generally the more popular sizes selected for necklaces, while anything above 13mm is considered to be larger, rarer, and much more valuable (especially in the higher qualities like AAA Quality). Tahitian pearl necklaces often graduate in size, we offer both graduated (i.e., 10-12mm or 11-13mm strands) and non-graduated (i.e., 9-10mm and 10-11mm strands) pearl necklaces. None of our graduated necklaces graduate by more than 3 millimeters. They graduate slowly and evenly in size from the smallest-size pearls in the back to the largest in the front of the necklace.

A AA AAA AAAA
Information Low-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the bottom 40% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl) Medium-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the top 60% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl High-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores. High-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the top 2% of a pearl harvest.
Surface Pearls having flaws on at least 60% of the pearl surface, with 20% containing deep imperfections. Flawless pearl on 40% if its surface, with the remaining 50% having minor imperfections and 10% containing deep flaws. Flawless pearl on at least 80-85% of its surface, with the remaining 15-20% containing only minor imperfections with one or two deep imperfections. Flawless pearl on at least 95% of the pearl surface, with 5% having slight concentrated imperfections.
Luster Poor Medium High Very High
Information
A
Low-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the bottom 40% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl)
AA
Medium-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the top 60% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl
AAA
High-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
AAAA
High-Grade Tahitian pearls representing the top 2% of a pearl harvest.
Surface
A
Pearls having flaws on at least 60% of the pearl surface, with 20% containing deep imperfections.
AA
Flawless pearl on 40% if its surface, with the remaining 50% having minor imperfections and 10% containing deep flaws.
AAA
Flawless pearl on at least 80-85% of its surface, with the remaining 15-20% containing only minor imperfections with one or two deep imperfections.
AAAA
Flawless pearl on at least 95% of the pearl surface, with 5% having slight concentrated imperfections.
Luster
A
Poor
AA
Medium
AAA
High
AAAA
Very High
white & golden south sea

South Sea pearls dominate among pearl types when it comes to size, and are generally found between 9mm and 15mm, though some pearls can be found as large as 20mm. These larger and extremely rare pearls are very valuable, especially in the higher qualities. Pearls below 10mm are typically considered small in size. 10mm until 12mm are generally the more popular sizes selected for necklaces, while anything above 13mm is considered to be larger, rarer, and more valuable. South Sea pearl necklaces often graduate in size, though Laguna Pearl offers both graduated and non-graduated pearl necklaces.

A AA AAA AAAA
Information Low-Grade South Sea pearls representing the bottom 40% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl) Medium-Grade South Sea pearls representing the top 60% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl High-Grade South Sea pearls representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores. High-Grade South Sea pearls representing the top 2% of a pearl harvest.
Surface Pearls having flaws on at least 60% of the pearl surface, with 20% containing deep imperfections. Flawless pearl on 40% if its surface, with the remaining 50% having minor imperfections and 10% containing deep flaws. Flawless pearl on at least 80-85% of its surface, with the remaining 15-20% containing only minor imperfections with one or two deep imperfections. Flawless pearl on at least 95% of the pearl surface, with 5% having slight concentrated imperfections.
Luster Poor Medium High Very High
Information
A
Low-Grade South Sea pearls representing the bottom 40% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl)
AA
Medium-Grade South Sea pearls representing the top 60% of Harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at Laguna Pearl
AAA
High-Grade South Sea pearls representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in Fine Jewelry Stores.
AAAA
High-Grade South Sea pearls representing the top 2% of a pearl harvest.
Surface
A
Pearls having flaws on at least 60% of the pearl surface, with 20% containing deep imperfections.
AA
Flawless pearl on 40% if its surface, with the remaining 50% having minor imperfections and 10% containing deep flaws.
AAA
Flawless pearl on at least 80-85% of its surface, with the remaining 15-20% containing only minor imperfections with one or two deep imperfections.
AAAA
Flawless pearl on at least 95% of the pearl surface, with 5% having slight concentrated imperfections.
Luster
A
Poor
AA
Medium
AAA
High
AAAA
Very High
Understanding Pearl Nacre

Nacre thickness is an important factor when measuring a pearl's quality. Laguna Pearl is committed to offering pearls that consist of very thick nacre coatings. In truth, most governments set a minimum nacre thickness to prevent low quality pearls from being exported from the country. Furthermore, all pearls are x-rayed and evaluated prior to export to ensure that they meet the strict nacre standards of their particular region. Therefore, all pearls on the retail market have already been approved by this standard. All pearls used by Laguna Pearl have undergone these inspections to ensure that they are of the highest quality.

Reasons you`ll love us

Choose from a variety of the finest designer clasps with double safety mechanisms

Solid 14K or 18K gold posts with high quality secure backings

Solid 14K or 18K gold posts with high quality secure backings

Solid 14K or 18K gold posts with high quality secure backings

Our pearls are imported directly from their country of origin, to uphold the highest pearl quality standards

Our pearls are imported directly from their country of origin, to uphold the highest pearl quality standards

Explore
pearl types

Read our brief summaries below to educate yourself regarding the origin, value, size and quality of each pearl type.

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pearl sizing

The largest pearl sizing is available through South Sea pearls, where the largest and highest quality pearls are available

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pearl shapes

Pearls are typically assigned to four categories in the sorting process: Round/Semi-Round, Drop, Baroque, and Circle Baroque.

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