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Are pearls really that valuable?

July 22,2023

This is a good question. Many people when purchasing jewelry always hope to have a more appropriate grasp of the price, and are afraid of being deceived. Although teachers have written this in detail, I will still discuss it from my own shallow perspective.

Thanks to the farming technology, you now have the opportunity to own the so-called "expensive" Pearls. If you go to the Forbidden City and take a look, those pearls from the past, excluding the natural aspect, even in a brand new era, cannot be compared in quality to the ones you spend a little money to buy today.


1. Are pearls really valuable?

(1) Say two very expensive pearls

If you know pearls from freshwater pearls, you will never think that pearls will be so precious, especially when you see the "Queen Marie Antoinette's Old Pearl" auctioned by Sotheby's in Geneva in 2018, the transaction price is 36427000 Swiss francs, which is more than 200 million yuan at the exchange rate of 7. Another  pearl necklace  is 2295000 Swiss francs, almost 16 million yuan. The reason why pearls have such irregular shapes and high prices is not only due to their historical significance and artistic value, but also due to the scarcity of wild large-sized pearls, to the extent that before the 16th century, pearls were almost exclusively owned by top royal families.

In a batch of raw materials, the standard number of round pearls accounts for less than 5% of the total production, while the truly flawless pearls account for less than 3% of the total production, and the pearls with strong light account for less than 10% of the total production. Therefore, among the pearls cultivated artificially, the pearls with strong light, round and flawless are all selected from thousands of miles, and the rare are the most precious


Another pearl story about "Bloody Mary" and "Virgin Queen" even influenced the rise and fall of European hegemony to some extent.

A pearl called "la Peregrina" wanderer was found by a slave on the coast of Isla Santa Margarita Island in Panama in the middle of the 16th century. The pearl was handed over to Pedro, the Spanish colonial officer in Panama, and then transported back to Spain.

In the era when Spain crazily forced precious Emerald from the New World, pearls were even higher than Emerald and were the leaders of jewelry. Later, King Philip II of Spain gave this pearl to Queen Mary I of England as an engagement gift, to the extent that Queen Mary was deeply fascinated by King Philip and the pearls he gave her. In every subsequent portrait of Queen Mary, this pearl can be seen, sometimes as a brooch or sometimes as a necklace.


Also unable to extricate herself from wandering, there is the Queen's half sister Elizabeth. What is interesting about the story is that Elizabeth said that Philip fell in love with him from the first time he met her, and Philip was also noncommittal (during the marriage between Mary and Philip, Philip sent her a Great Diamond). Perhaps this is true, perhaps it is the King of Spain who is planning to attach himself to the next Queen of England. Later, after Mary's death, Wanderer Pearl returned to Spain, and Philip sent a diplomatic envoy to propose to Elizabeth.

Perhaps it was because there was no Wanderer Pearl in this proposal, or perhaps it was because Elizabeth had seen too many failed marriages and did not agree to Philip, and later launched a pirate war against Spain.

In 1969, Richard Burton bought the rover for 370000 dollars and gave it to Elizabeth Taylor as a Valentine's Day gift. In December 2011, Christie's sold the rover pearl necklace with Ruby and diamond for 11.8 million dollars


(2) The type of pearl affects the price

In modern times, the price of pearls is largely determined by their variety. Wild pearls from the past are like today's conch pearls, which cannot be obtained through artificial breeding and are precious.

Among the varieties that can be cultured artificially, the price of seawater pearl is generally higher than that of  freshwater pearl, followed by Nanyang white pearl, Nanyang golden pearl, Tahiti, AKOYA, Zhenduoma, and freshwater pearl.

Of course, sometimes large and high-quality freshwater beads are not cheaper than AKOYA, and the final pricing standard depends on their true value.

(3) Is the price of pearls in the question reasonable?

In unifying pearl varieties, regardless of differences in quality, for end consumers, their purchasing channels are one of the important factors determining prices.

There is naturally a price difference between buying a similar Nanyang white pearl in a Yukimoto specialty store and in the hands of some professionals. Similarly, there are also differences between wholesale and retail.

The pricing of pearls has its rationality, and the high cost behind brand operation also constitutes the value of the product.


2. How is the price of pearls determined?

Price is determined by value, and pearls are no exception


In the 16th century and before, absolute Scarcity determined the unattainable price.

Today, the main factors affecting prices include the difficulty and yield of breeding varieties (scarcity), the quality and size of pearls (appearance), the brand value and service of sellers (channels), and one-time purchase volume (large customer treatment). The price purchased by a buyer largely depends on their purchasing power and professionalism. If there is no knowledge of pearls and no time to understand channels, purchasing at a large brand counter is also a good choice, which not only ensures quality but also saves time.

So the influencing factors of price are multidimensional, just take what you need.

3. What kind of people like to wear pearls? And how to choose?


I think pearls are the most popular and widely accepted type of jewelry, with a wide range of varieties and prices that almost meet the aesthetic demands of all women. Cheap ones can buy small size freshwater pearls, while expensive ones can buy large size seawater pearls. Regardless of the budget, you can find the one that suits you. Excluding a few yuan and dozens of yuan worth of freshwater beads, there are some simple ideas:


1. Generally speaking, the gloss period and glossiness of freshwater pearls are inferior to those of seawater pearls, but the advantage is that the price is relatively cheap, especially for large-sized pearl chains with a diameter of 10mm or more, which are much more affordable than seawater pearls. Ordinary people choose a string of large-sized freshwater pearls to wear, which is a good choice for taste but not too hot. It is much more beautiful to wear as a gift for aunts and mothers than small-sized pearls with strange shapes.

2. The most entry-level product in Seawater Pearl is AKOYA, suitable for daily delicacies, with simple and complex styles that look good. When it comes to price, considering that each person has different roles and channels, and the quality of pearls is different, each person can freely choose according to their own situation, combined with different risks and opportunity costs. (Additionally, Nanzhu is also an entry-level seawater pearl, but its market acceptance is not as high as that of Japanese pearls)

3. Among the white pearls, Nanyang white pearls are generally the most expensive, with a relatively large size and a natural temperament with good pearl luster. If the budget is sufficient,This variety is still recommended for white pearls.

4. The beauty of Tahiti black pearl lies in its color, and the price of green tone or purple tone will be higher. Everyone will decide according to their own color sense and preference and the pearls that can be selected.

5. In addition to luster, color is an important factor in the price of Nanyang gold beads, and rich gold is more expensive than light gold.

6. Some varieties such as Marbet pearls and Baroque pearls have significant price fluctuations, with some pearls having good and large luster, making them a cost-effective choice. Of course, there are also recent cut pearls, Edison (available in purple, pink, etc.), and so on, which can be chosen according to preference.

7. In actual selection, I personally believe that pearl luster is the most important. The beauty of pearls lies in their luster, followed by their size. The least important thing is to pursue precise circles, as no one holds a caliper to check whether the pearls are round. The degree of defects depends on the actual situation, and minor defects are acceptable within budget limits. This, like all jewelry selection, is a multidimensional issue that comprehensively considers size, price, roundness, gloss, flaws, and channels. If conditions permit, then pursue perfection.

8. If it comes to styles, the entry-level version is earrings and bead strings, and the size can be selected based on age, body shape, and personal preferences.

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