How to Buy Pearls, The Biggest Trend of the Year

Glamour magazine said it best, “Pearl Jewelry is the accessory you’ll be seeing everywhere this fall.” And we are. From catwalks to red carpets, from the big to the small screen, on It Girls, politicians, style gurus and more, pearls are thriving in the limelight. Elle magazine touts pearls and shell jewelry that “celebrate the ocean’s bounty” as “2019’s most pervasive jewelry trend of the year.” And with gift giving season fast approaching, shoppers are sure to have pearls top of mind. So, here are some helpful quick tips on how to buy pearls, the biggest trend of the year.

THE IT Factor – Quality = Luster, Surface, Size and Shape

the it factor
Clockwise from Upper Left –White South Sea Round Pearl, Assael Natural Conch Pearl and South Sea Pearl Earrings, Assael Classic South Sea Pearl Necklace, Tahitian Baroque Pearl, Japanese Akoya Pearl, Round South Sea Golden Pearl, Round Eggplant Tahitian Pearl

Most jewelry shoppers are familiar with the 4 C’s for buying a diamond, but pearls also have important measures of quality. Let’s start with luster as that is the tell-tale sign of a high-quality gem pearl. Luster is the combination of surface brilliance and deep-seated glow. The higher the luster and the more dimensional the pearl, the more valuable it is. Nacre is the organic substance that makes up the pearl, creating the luster. Nacre is wrapped layer after layer over the years in a natural process by the oyster/mollusk while producing the pearl. The more nacre, the more luster the pearl will have. And the cleaner the surface of the pearl, the more that luster can be enjoyed. Smooth pearls are also more valuable, so look for pearls with a clean surface, lacking any disfiguring spots, bumps or cracks. According to Jewelers of America, “your reflection should be seen on the surface of a cultured pearl.”

Then examine the size and shape of the pearls. Because cultured pearls grow in a natural process inside oysters and mollusks, their shape can be difficult to control. Perfectly round pearls are much rarer and therefore more valuable. But many pearl lovers are also fans of the natural shapes of non-round or “baroque” pearls. In terms of size, pearls are typically measured by diameter in millimeters. The size not only determines value, it is also an indicator of how long the pearl was growing inside the oyster. Larger pearls take longer to grow and therefore claim a higher price. When purchasing pearls for yourself or your loved one, ask about and pay close attention to the luster, size, shape and surface of the pearls.

EARRINGS FIRST – Perfect for Gifting

Earrings first
Clockwise from Upper Left – Assael Tahitian Pearl Drop Earrings with Pear Shaped Aquamarines, Assael Double Baroque Pearl Earrings on model, Jason Wu Runway September 2019 NYFW, Assael One-of-a-Kind Earrings with 4 Fiji Pearls and Elongated Bi-Color Tourmalines worn by the beautiful @gemologue Liza Urla, Akoya “Geometrix studs by Sean Gilson for Assael, Assael Double Drop South Sea Pearl Earrings

According to Peggy Grosz, seasoned jewelry veteran and Vice President of Assael, earrings make a magnificent jewelry gift because women need more variety of earrings than any other category of fine jewelry. Earrings are next to the face, making them as personable and changeable as hairstyles, moods and expressions. When shopping for pearl earrings, select a size of pearl that fits the personality and or facial structure of the wearer. Petit face shapes like round and heart-shaped faces will look better with smaller pearls, while longer face shapes like oval and rectangular might look nicer with baroque or pear-shaped pearl drops. Also, remember to carefully examine the luster and surface of the pearl. Smooth pearls with high luster reflect light onto the face, adding a little extra glow to her radiant smile.

Be sure to examine the backs of the earrings, as well. Clip backs (with or without posts) help secure the pearl and hold it in place. A well-made earring will often have a left and right, designed to balance the look and beautifully frame the face.

GO BAROQUE – Organic One-of-a-Kinds

Go Baroque
Clockwise from Upper Left – Large Assael South Sea Baroque Pearl and Lavender Spinel Choker, Olori Kind Elegushi in @banksbmpro makeup and baroque pearls, @whowhatwear, Assael South Sea Baroque Pearl Cocktail Ring

Baroque or irregularly shaped pearls are popping up everywhere these days. WhoWhatWear touts baroques as “perfectly imperfect pearls” in the number 2 spot on their list of the biggest jewelry trends of the year. When buying baroque pearls, look for the shape that pleases you most while paying attention to the luster and surface. The organic shape of baroque pearls makes each one unique, a natural one-of-a-kind, making them a gift as singular as she is. Assael baroques are some of the most lustrous, mirror-like surfaces on the market. The curves of these pearls let light dance off surfaces in a wonderful iridescent display of color.

SENSUOUS STRANDS – Seductively Simple

Sensusous Strands
Clockwise from Upper Left – Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior and a choker length pearl necklace, @vintageousclassic Zigfield Follies star Lousie Brooks in a super long strand of pearls, Assael Opera Length Akoya Pearl Necklace with 18K white gold clasp, Guest attending In Conversation with Michael Kors Oct 2019, Akoya Pearl Opera Length Strand

There is nothing more versatile than a simple pearl strand. Pearls can be worn with designer denim, a little black dress or a business suit, earning them the new moniker “power pearls.” A strand of high-quality cultured pearls is easily one of the most wearable pieces in a woman’s fine jewelry wardrobe. When shopping for a strand, make sure the pearls do not bunch or twist and that the silk cord matches the pearl color as closely as possible. The knots tied in between the pearls should be uniformly shaped and unnoticeable, snug against both sides of every pearl. Pearl choker necklaces add a lot of light to the face, while longer opera length strands add a sense of drama to suits, sweaters and dresses.

Vogue listed pearls as number 2 in the 7 biggest jewelry trends of the Fall 2019 season. So whether you choose Akoya, South Sea, Golden, Tahitian, or Fiji pearls, you can rest assured that you will be on trend. When selected carefully, a gift of pearls to yourself or to a loved one makes a meaningful and lasting statement that will continue to bring joy for many years to come. Remember the measures of quality and shop with confidence. To see some beautiful examples of modern pearl designs, visit Assael.com or follow on Instagram @assaelpearls.