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Pearl farmers and pearl dealers often trade pearls wholesale amongst themselves. It is this trade that brought forth a standard and definitive pearl grading system for grading the surfaces of Tahitian Pearls. This wholesale grading system follows the A Quality, B Quality, C Quality and D Quality nomenclature. Please note this system correlates to the Japanese Akoya Cultured Pearl Grading System of TRUE AAA, AA, A+ and A that you might have learned about and recognized as the definitive grading system, by the finest stores in the world. "A Quality" pearls are the most valuable with, D Quality the least valuable. Please see below for exact definitions. The use of the TRUE AAA, AA, A+ and A grading system which was popularized by Mikimoto can also be used to describe the luster of South Sea and Tahitian pearls where TRUE AAA Quality correlates to "A Quality" in the Tahitian Pearl and South Sea Pearl wholesale grading system, "AA Quality" correlates to "B Quality", "A+ Quality" correlates to "C Quality", etc... An educated consumer who is shopping for truly fine quality pearls should understand that there are particular grading systems suited for each oyster and the pearls it produces. So if you are shopping for Tahitian Pearls, Find out what the quality of the surface of the pearls are using the A, B, C and D nomenclature.
A Quality—A pearl of superior quality comprising no surface defects or at most some impairments that are confined to less than 10% of its surface.
B Quality—A pearl exhibiting a good luster with some defects visible to the naked eye and distributed over less than one third of the surface.
C Quality—A pearl showing several visible defects, distributed over more than one third and less than two thirds of the surface and exhibiting an average luster.
D Quality—A pearl showing numerous visible defects, distributed over two thirds of the surface and exhibiting poor luster.