How to Buy Pearls Online

Find out how to buy pearls without getting scammed

If you’re looking to invest in precious jewellery, pearls should be your first option.The ultimate symbol of love, beauty, class, and luxury — they have adorned the ears, wrists and necklines of civilizations across the globe for countless centuries. In fact, they have been discovered as far back as 450 BC, which means that the appeal of pearls is one of the most enduring in the history of jewellery!

While pearls were traditionally worn by royalty, they now reign supreme among the majority of the population. In modern-day times, this elegant gem has been designated the birthstone of June and makes a thoughtful gift for those with Gemini or Cancer star signs. It is also commonly gifted to brides-to-be due to its connotations of purity and innocence, and it represents a couple’s milestone 30th wedding anniversary.

You’re likely to be familiar with their distinctive glow and sumptuously smooth texture, but perhaps you’re not so sure what a pearl actually is and where it comes from. Keep reading to discover more about these lustrous gems and how to buy pearls online.

What Are Pearls?

Pearls are the only gemstones in the world that come from a living being. Often referred to as the “gems of the sea”, they are formed in molluscs such as oysters and mussels. This fascinating process occurs when a foreign particle such as food, sand or bacteria enters its shell and the creature protects itself by covering it with layers of nacre. Over time, these layers of nacre create a masterpiece: a glistening pearl.

So, now we know how they are formed, where do pearls come from? Most freshwater pearls on the market come from mussels in China, whereas saltwater pearls are usually found in oysters located off the coast of Japan, French Polynesia and Australia. If you’re eager to get your hands on the oldest gemstone in the world, make sure to read the following guide on how to buy pearls so that you get the most for your money.

STEP 1: Get to Know Your Pearls

We’ve already covered the basics, but there’s more you need to know before you dive deep into a sea of pearls. First of all, there’s a difference between natural and cultured pearls: Grown in the wild without human intervention, natural pearls are incredibly rare and they often come in irregular shapes with unique markings, whereas cultured pearls are harvested on pearl farms and tend to come in a uniform bead shape. You can probably guess which of the two is more expensive, right?

Even though cultured pearls generally cost less than natural ones, they’re still highly sought-after by avid jewellery shoppers — they’re still real pearls, after all. With this in mind, there are 4 main types of pearls to consider when carrying out your search:

Freshwater Pearls

These are the most common type of pearl and are therefore relatively inexpensive. They come in an array of colours, including pink, white and other pastel shades.

Akoya Pearls

If you had to envisage the perfect pearl, it would be found in this variety. Considered an upgrade from freshwater pearls, they often come impeccably round and white.

Tahitian Pearls

This variety comes in dark shades like green, blue, brown, and grey — all of which are equal in price. According to Diamond Rocks, the bestselling shade is green peacock.

South Sea Pearls

Either white or golden, these are the biggest and most valuable of all pearl types. It is typical for them to be found up to 17mm, and the deeper the gold, the more valuable they are.

STEP 2: Find a Reputable Retailer

Now you’re an expert in pearls, you can start looking for jewellers. It’s important to investigate a brand before investing in its product. You can get a good idea of its reputation through customer reviews, but this isn’t always possible if the retailer has only just moved online.

In the absence of reviews, check out the quality of their website and customer service, as well as ask members of staff about their level of expertise.

STEP 3: Study the Product Photos

It’s time to put your newly acquired pearl knowledge to the test. Look at the shape, colour and lustre — can you match it up to the above descriptions of the pearl varieties? You also need to ensure it doesn’t have any blemishes or dark spots. If you see discolouration or other imperfections on the surface, move on to the next product.

STEP 4: Look for a Certification

You’ve tracked down some beautiful pearl jewellery and you can’t seem to find anything wrong with it. There’s just one problem — the pearls are fake.

If you’re wondering how to tell if pearls are real, you’ll need to check that they come with a certificate that guarantees their authenticity. This will tell you the type of pearl, whether it is natural or cultured, as well as its size, shape, weight, colour and length.

STEP 5: Check the Return Policy

Reputable retailer, check. Flawless photographs, check. Certificate, check. But what if your pearls arrive and they’re not what they are in the photos? Don’t forget to investigate your chosen seller’s warranty and return policies in order to reduce your risk of being stuck with a product that is damaged or doesn’t meet your expectations.

Buying Pearls Online is Simple

If you’re prepared to carry out the research with the help of this guide, you can finally find that classic pearl necklace you’ve always dreamed of! You can also head over to Pearl Gallery — the UK’s leading pearl importer that specializes in exquisite cultured pearls.