A Brief History of Pearls: Quality Factor Two: Surface

  A brief history of pearls


Surface quality is important to pearl graders. Aside from luster, it's the most important aspect of a pearl's value.

What is a Pearl's Surface Quality?

The term surface quality refers to the number and types of flaws that appear on the outside of a pearl. A pearl with a smooth, even surface will usually be more valuable than one with flaws.

A pearl's surface quality is usually evaluated on a scale that ranges from "Clean" to "Heavily blemished."

It's important to note that a pearl may be harvested with an excellent surface quality, but due to mistakes during processing or drilling, it can become damaged.

Types of Blemishes on Pearls

Some blemishes on pearls are damaging, and others are considered non-damaging. Non-damaging blemishes, which do not worsen over time, can include:

  • Spots
  • Bumps
  • Pits
  • Circles
  • Wrinkles

Damaging blemishes do become worse over time. Typically, damaging blemishes are those that tend to become larger, such as cracks and chips that occur near a pearl's drill holes.

Clean Pearl Surfaces and Value

In most cases, a pearl with a clean surface is more valuable than one with a blemished surface. However, pearls are very rarely flawless. Those with natural imperfections can be beautiful and valuable.

How pearls form in oysters
How pearls are harvested
How pearls brought to market
Know your Akoya pearls
Akoya Pearl Cultivation
Akoya Pearl Harvesting
Akoya Pearl Processing
Akoya Pearl Evaluation
Quality Factor One: Luster
Luster of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Two: Surface
Surface of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Three: Shape
Shape of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Four: Color
Color of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Five: Size
Size of Akoya Pearls
Know your South Sea pearls
South Sea Pearl Cultivation
South Sea Pearl Harvesting
South Sea Pearl Processing
South Sea Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of South Sea Pearls
Surface of South Sea Pearls
Shape of South Sea Pearls
Color of South Sea Pearls
Size of South Sea Pearls
Know your Tahitian pearls
Tahitian Pearl Cultivation
Tahitian Pearl Harvesting
Tahitian Pearl Processing
Tahitian Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of Tahitian Pearls
Surface of Tahitian Pearls
Shape of Tahitian Pearls
Color of Tahitian Pearls
Size of Tahitian Pearls
Gift Giving Occasions

  Previous   Next