Pearl Grading & Education

What You Need to Know About Pearl Grading

The most important thing for any buyer of pearls to be aware of is that there is no universally accepted grading system for pearls. However, the GIA, the world’s foremost authority on gem education and grading, has a system in place that The Pearl Company strictly adheres to. It is this system that is us used by premium luxury store retailers such as Mikimoto. The highest rating possible is AAA and you can rest assured that all Ultimate AAA Akoya pearl strands from The Pearl Company meet or exceed the GIA’s AAA guideline.

Unfortunately, since not all retailers use this system or adhere to it, a AAA rating at one retailer may be comparable to a GIA AA rating. Therefore, it’s critical that you as a consumer understand the components that comprise the rating and how to evaluate them.

While only Akoya pearls are rated with the GIA’s AAA rating system, the same six factors are used to evaluate and rate all pearls. We will discuss the rating of other pearl varieties in another section.

A Deeper Dive into the Six Pearl Grading Factors.


Pearls come in a wide variety of shapes, all beautiful in their own right and each one preferred for a different aesthetic or style. But the most coveted and sought after are the perfectly round. They are the classic shape worn by women of distinction and are a timeless treasure. Perfectly round pearls are also the most valuable, not just because they are the most sought after. Perfectly round pearls are natural miracles as they are the rarest occurring shape and account for less than 5% of all pearls harvested each year.


When they say doesn’t matter, they’re not talking about pearls. The bigger the pearl the more valuable it is. A bigger pearl is the result of a longer gestation period. Given all the weather elements their host mollusks are subjected to while housing the developing pearl, getting them to survive for a longer time frame without being destroyed is no easy task.


We attribute a pearl’s mirror like, reflective quality or its shine, to its luster.


All pearls have an iridescent coating to them. That coating is called Nacre and its thickness varies from pearl to pearl. Since it’s this Nacre that protects the pearl, the thicker it is, the more valuable it is. In essence Nacre is the pearl’s armor so the stronger it is the longer your pearl will last and hold its value.



The most desired surface is a clean surface. What that means is that the surface feels and looks completely smooth with possible minor irregularities that are undetectable to the naked eye or to the touch.