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Welcome To PearlHolic Custom Made Pearl Jewelry Store!

Pearl Grading

Pearl Grading

Probably the single most important thing to understand when learning about Pearl Grading in order to make an educated purchase decision is this: it is impossible to compare grades and grading systems from one company to another.

Unlike diamond grading, there is no standardized grading system for pearls. Every company in the world that grades and sells pearls is using a system that they themselves devised and created. Every system is subjective and every system is unique. We know with certainty, for example, that our AA+ graded akoya pearls have better luster, surface and color than another online sellers' AAAA pearls exhibit. This is the unfortunate result of no standardized, universal grading system.

The French Polynesian government has created a system of grading for exporting Tahitian pearls and we tailor our A-AAA grading to match their system as all our Tahitian pearls were legally exported from Tahiti and have gone through this grading process.

The following sections will give you guidance through our grading system to help you make a more informed purchase decision.

Please note, PearlHolic.com does not subscribe to superfluous grades such as AAA+ and AAAA. These are not industry accepted grades.

Cultured Freshwater Pearl Grading

Pearl GradeDescription
Freshadama™

Freshadama-grade pearls are loose-grade pearls, or pearls that have been selected individually prior to drilling and polishing for their exceptional quality characteristics. These pearls are typically sold wholesale as single pearls and pairs, undrilled. Freshadama™ strands are composed of these pearls; drilled and matched by us.

 

  • Highest grade of freshwater pearl
  • Exhibit intense luster and deeply reflective orient
  • Round
  • Clean surface
  • Top .01% of freshwater pearls produced today
  • Excellent matching
  • Highest non-loose pearl grade available in the market
  • Exhibit excellent luster
  • Round to the eye
  • Clean surface
  • Top 1% of freshwater pearls produced today
  • Excellent matching
  • Highest grade of freshwater pearl
  • Near round, appear perfect round from a yard away
  • 90-100% Clean Surface
  • Top 5% of freshwater pearls produced today
  • Excellent to good matching
  • Exhibit good to average luster
  • Near round to off-round
  • 80-100% Clean Surface
  • Top 10% of freshwater pearls produced today
  • Good to moderate matching
  • Exhibit average to low luster
  • Near round to off-round
  • 70-100% Clean Surface
  • Top 20% of freshwater pearls produced today
  • Good to moderate matching
  • Exhibit average to no luster
  • Near round to off-round
  • Moderate to heavy blemishing

Cultured Akoya Pearl Grading

Pearl GradeDescription
Hanadama

Hanadama is the Japanese word for spherical flower and is the grade assigned to akoya pearls considered "extra fine" by a pearl grading laboratory in Japan. One important thing to note is that there is a range of quality that is considered hanadama. For example, our AAA could easily pass certification. We guarantee our hanadama to be the finest available as we only submit the finest to be certified.

Each hanadama-grade strand of akoya pearls must be accompanied by an individual, numbered certificate from the Pearl Science Laboratory of Japan to be sold as "hanadama grade."

 

  • Surface exhibits minimal to no visible blemishes*
  • Shape is perfect round
  • Luster is very strong
  • Pearl exhibits mirror reflection
  • Nacre determined by optical fiber to be greater than 0.4 mm per radius
  • Excellent matching
  • 95-100% of pearl's surface is free of visible blemishes
  • Shape is perfect round
  • Luster is strong to very strong
  • Pearl exhibits sharp reflection
  • Nacre is visibly thick
  • Excellent matching
  • 90-100% of pearl's surface is free of visible blemishes
  • Shape is perfect round
  • Luster is good to strong
  • Pearl exhibits good to sharp reflection
  • Nacre is visibly thick
  • Matching is good to excellent
  • 80-100% of pearl's surface is free of visible blemishes
  • Shape is perfect round
  • Luster is good to medium
  • Pearl exhibits good to medium reflection
  • Nacre depth is medium
  • Matching is good to excellent
  • 70-100% of pearl's surface is free of visible blemishes
  • Shape is round to near round
  • Luster is poor to medium (chalky appearance)
  • Pearl exhibits good to medium reflection
  • Nacre depth is thin
  • Matching is fair to excellent
*The Pearl Science Laboratory follows the laws set forth by the FTC that it is considered unfair to describe cultured pearls as "flawless" because no pearls can pass perfect examination under a 10x magnfication. Although you can't see it, the surface of a pearl is textured. For that reason, all certificates will state "very slight" in the blemishing category.

Cultured Tahitian Pearl Grading

  • Gem Grade Flawless pearl with excellent luster
  • Pearl exhibits no inclusions or imperfections prior to setting or drilling
  • Flawless on at least 90% of pearl's surface
  • Only 10% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Only a single deep inclusion allowable
  • Pearl should drill or set clean to virtually clean
  • Luster is very high
  • Flawless on at least 80% of pearl's surface
  • Only 20% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Only one or two deep inclusions allowable
  • Pearl should drill or set clean to nearly clean
  • Luster is high to very high
  • Flawless on at least 70% of pearl's surface
  • Only 30% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Pearl should drill or set nearly clean
  • Luster is high to very high
  • Flawless on at least 40% of pearl's surface
  • Up to 60% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Deep inclusions are limited to 10% of pearl's surface
  • Luster is medium to very high
  • At least 60% of pearl's surface will exhibit flaws
  • Deep inclusions and/or white spots within inclusions on up to 20% of pearl's surface
  • Luster is poor to very high
*Cultured Tahitian pearls that do not fall into a category above, or do not meet the minimum nacre depth requirements of 0.8 mm per radius, do not pass the mandatory examination of the Ministere de la Perliculture of Tahiti. Those pearls are refused for export and destroyed.

Cultured South Sea Pearl Grading

A-D GradingA-AAA US GradingDescription
  • Gem Grade Flawless pearl with excellent luster
  • Pearl exhibits no inclusions or imperfections prior to setting or drilling
  • Flawless on at least 90% of pearl's surface
  • Only 10% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Only a single deep inclusion allowable
  • Pearl should drill or set clean to virtually clean
  • Luster very high to excellent*
  • Flawless on at least 80% of pearl's surface
  • Only 20% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Only one or two deep inclusions allowable
  • Pearl should drill or set clean to nearly clean
  • Luster is high to very high*
  • Flawless on at least 70% of pearl's surface
  • Only 30% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Only one or two deep inclusions allowable
  • Pearl should drill or set nearly clean
  • Luster is high to very high*
  • Flawless on at least 40% of pearl's surface
  • Up to 60% of pearl's surface may exhibit slight, concentrated imperfections
  • Deep inclusions are limited to 10% of pearl's surface
  • Luster is medium to very high*
  • At least 60% of pearl's surface will exhibit flaws
  • Deep inclusions and/or white spots within inclusions on up to 20% of pearl's surface
  • Luster is poor to very high*
*South Sea pearls are known for their warm, satiny luster which does not typically exhibit the same reflective qualities of other cultured pearls.

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