From your teen to senior years. Pearls are a luxurious gem to decorate nearly any jewelry.

Although they are traditionally found in wild oysters, many jewelers today sell pearls grown in controlled water environments.

Regardless of the pearl’s origins, there are certain features to examine before investing in a necklace, bracelet or earrings.

Pearl Selection 101

Shaping your Pearl

Simple pearl jewelry typically consists of round gems, but it’s not the only shape available for eclectic collectors.

If you want a certified wild pearl that is almost perfectly round, you’ll pay a premium for the gem.

They are extremely rare because it’s a natural growing process that doesn’t necessarily result in a perfect pearl.

A pearl jewelry ring, for instance, will be less expensive if it’s a man-made type in freshwater lakes.

You can also look for better deals and a unique look by opting for drop or oval pearls.

The best jewelry made out of real pearl has a personality that is unique to itself.

Surface Imperfections

Even the most vintage pearl jewelry should have little surface imperfections. Whether the gems are wild or man-made, pockets or scratches across the pearl diminishes its value.

If you buy real pearl jewelry from a friend, look over all the pearls’ surfaces to verify there’s no damage.

When pearls aren’t properly cared for, unsightly marks do occur across the surface. Any pearls purchased from a retailer should be looked at carefully too as you negotiate a sale price.

Obvious surface imperfections are cause for a discount.

Shiny Appearance

Be sure to use a strong light around potential pearl purchases to see them shine brilliantly.

Pearls are graded on their shininess where AAA is best and A is dull. Simple pearl jewelry should have a strong luster because these gems are often the star of the setting.

Be aware of coatings applied to lackluster pearls, however. These coatings make the pearl look like a AAA grade, but it slowly breaks down.

You’ll notice the obvious dullness in a matter of a few months, depending on the jewelry’s frequency of use.

Professional Drilling

You could have perfect pink pearl jewelry, but a misstep during drilling can damage the gems’ values.

Take a look at the drilling holes when purchasing strung pearls in necklaces, bracelets and anklets.

The hole should have a clean cut directly in the center of the pearl. Any cracks or off-center holes are cause for concern.

The pearl could break down further as the hole cracks and tears with use during wear. Insist on a centered drill hole for the entire jewelry piece.

Examine Necklaces and Bracelets

It may appear simple to examine a pearl jewelry ring, but strung pearls require so much more evaluation.

Aside from the drilled holes, step back and look at the pearls as a group. It’s impossible to have completely uniform pearl sizes, but they should be close to the same size.

Their color should also be even, giving the impression that the pearls are all from the same oyster.

From pink pearl jewelry to vintage pearl jewelry, your gem choices are nearly endless as you shop around.

Don’t be frazzled by any jewelers or sellers asking you to make a decision on a piece. Hold the pearl up to the light and examine it at all angles.

What makes pearls the best jewelry material is the fact that they last a lifetime. It is no wonder that you want every single piece of your pearl to be as perfect as possible.

Image credit: amboo who?