BLOG SERIES: How to shop for pearls
Part 1 – No universal grading makes it hard to shop for pearls
As a jewelry and online shopping enthusiast, I understand the struggle consumers go through when purchasing products online, specifically quality jewelry. The biggest issue I see problems with is in the area of pearls. Currently there is no universal grading system enforced, leaving it open for pearl retailers to base their grading scale off of their own personal choosing, which generally relates to a company’s inventory. A small company’s “AAA” pearl may be the exact same pearl that a large company, with an inventory size to match, would give a “AA” grade. Or one company might have access to seven pearl farms, whereas another might only have access to one pearl farm. It is all relative to each company’s experience, pearl access, and professional integrity.
There are people knowledgeable in pearls trying to push grading scales they have implemented, but these pearl experts are almost always trying to sell their own pearls as well; so naturally any of these grading scales is going to favor their own company’s pearl access and stock. That is why until there is a grading system universally enforced for all types of pearls, I think consumers should be proactive about their pearl purchases and educate themselves about what defines a high quality pearl and judge by their own visual consideration; instead of relying on a company (who’s only goal is to sell pearls) to tell them they are purchasing a pearl of high quality. Of course they will say it’s high quality…they want to sell you pearls!
With so many companies selling pearls online, to be competitive most companies offer at least a 30 day return policy with no questions asked. This allows consumers to purchase a piece of pearl jewelry just to examine in person and decide for themselves if it is a quality purchase they wish to keep. In fact, it is probably easier to make the best pearl purchase online INSTEAD of in person at a store, as most jewelry stores would not allow you a 30-day full return policy with no questions asked.
Pearls are something that almost everyone has, values, or wants; yet the average person knows little to nothing about the realm of pearls. Having worked with pearls for years, I am going to spend the next few weeks writing a series of blogs describing what you should look for when buying pearls. Then you can be confident when you make a pearl purchase, that you are getting the quality and aesthetics you want for the best price.