|Today, fine pearls compete with
the finest diamonds and jewellery. Being able
to discern a true quality pearl, from one that
is just average is truly an art. A perfect pearl
is a rare find, a scant 20% of oysters raised
in a cultured environment bear marketable cultured
pearls. And of these, even fewer are selected
to qualify as Birks Pearls. Discriminating eyes
evaluate each pearl according to its size, shape,
surface, colour, lustre, nacre and match.
All other factors being equal, larger pearls are
usually more valuable. Measured in millimetres,
cultured pearls, depending on type can range in
size from smaller than 1mm to largDer than 20mm.
Within each category of cultured pearls, the rounder
the pearl the more valuable it is. Akoya cultivation
tends to produce the roundest pearls. Only 5-10%
of the Tahitian harvest is perfectly round making
these pearls very expensive. Round freshwater
pearls are relatively scarce compared to off-rounds.
This refers to the degree of imperfections. Overly
blemished pearls are discarded. In this case ‘less
is more. The fewer the irregularities, the more
valuable the pearl is.
Pearls come in an array of colours ranging from
white to black and nearly all colours in between.
Overall, no pearl colour is superior to another.
However, depending on the pearl type, certain
colours are rarer which in turn affects their
The sharper the reflection of light on the surface,
the better the lustre is. To judge lustre, imagine
the pearl is a mirror and look at how sharp the
reflections of light are on its surface. South
Sea and Tahitian pearls tend to have a softer,
more diffused lustre than Akoya pearls and are
Thickness is an important element of quality and
affects durability. The nacre should never be
so thin that the core nuclei can be seen. Thick
nacre contributes to the durability, lustre and
value of this gem.
This describes how uniform all the quality factors
are in a strand. All Birks pearl strands are carefully
and individually matched - as are pearl earrings.