This is Why You Shouldn't Sell Your Pearls

Last updated: January 14, 2020

Are you thinking of selling pearls that you inherited, received as a gift, or no longer wear? Before you head to eBay or another online marketplace, here are five reasons why selling your pearls may not be a good idea:

1. You’ll receive less than you think

Unfortunately, pearls are the category of jewelry that is least in demand on the resale market today. As a result, used strands of pearls sell for very little. That may change in the future so you may decide instead to enjoy them now rather than cashing in when the value is low. Graduated strands of traditional Akoyas, with pearls that go from large to small, are less in fashion today and so are particularly inexpensive on the resale market.

2. You can layer them

Instead of selling your pearls, why not try wearing them in new ways? Layer them with chains or beads or leather cords to add a rock and roll edge. Wear them with a moto jacket and jeans. There’s a reason why Lady Gaga and Rihanna often wear pearls: their traditional feminine image makes them the perfect contrast for avant garde fashion.

3. You can restring them

If your pearls are too traditional for you, even layered, try restringing them with beads or mixed with colorful freshwater pearls.  It’s a completely new way to wear pearls. Visit a local bead shop and you’ll be amazed at the options

4. You can set them in edgy jewelry designs

Create a new custom design like an eternity band, bangle or hoops and you may fall in love with your pearls all over again.

5. Pearls always return to fashion

You may not want to wear your pearls today but you may feel differently in a few years as fashion and your style changes.  It will be much more expensive to replace them in the future than you’ll receive if you sell them. And pearls have been a treasured heirloom for centuries.  You may have children who will appreciate their beauty in the future.

How to Value Pearls

There are a few very important factors when it comes to value: lustre, surface quality, shape, and size. Pearls can vary greatly in each of these qualities depending on where they come from, how old they are, and what kind of water they were sourced from. 

Lustre: The lustre of a pearl is the shiny, glowing quality that it produces when reflecting light.  The more evenly distributed each layer of nacre, the more attractive the shine that will emanate from the pearl.

Surface Quality: The more flawless the surface of the pearl, the higher value it will be. While cultured pearls tend to have fewer blemishes than natural pearls, the quality can still vary, yielding faultless pearls a much higher value.

Shape: Although cultured pearls are typically created using a perfectly sphere-shaped irritant, it is still very difficult to produce a perfectly symmetrical, spherical pearl. Typically, less than 10% of pearls harvested will be perfectly round so their rarity makes them more valuable. Today irregularly shaped baroque pearls are also in demand.

Size: Similar to gems, the size of a pearl can significantly determine its value. Most cultured pearls range in between 6 cm to 7.5 cm. Pearls that are larger than this can increase in price exponentially.

Origin: Today freshwater pearls can be grown in a white color and round shape similar to Akoya pearls that are saltwater pearls from a different oyster. Akoya pearls generally have a more reflective lustre and so are more valuable.  South Sea pearls, including golden, white and multicolor Tahitian pearls, are available in larger sizes and so are the most valuable pearls of all.

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