Though fashion styles change over time, pearls remain a fundamental component of many jewelry enthusiast’s wardrobes, from classic strands to contemporary designs.

In selecting the best pearl beads for your beaded necklace or bracelet design, one should use the same criteria one would when buying fine jewelry. There are five physical factors that determine this, the first sign of the quality of a pearl being luster. Higher quality pearls possess a deep, warm glow that gives a jewelry design the richest look. A pearl should be checked for scratches, cracks, spots, bumps, or other blemishes on the surface. Cultured freshwater pearls for jewelry making are available in a variety of shapes, like round, oval, baroque, keshi, button, and biwa. Traditional colors include white, cream, rose, gold, blue-gray, and black; cultivated pearls come in almost any shape or color, but care must be kept in mind when purchasing pearl beads that have been dyed, as the color is liable to fading or rubbing off of the surface. Like most gems, the bigger the pearl, the more expensive. However, for a cheaper alternative, many worthwhile synthetic options exist today.

Like any fine jewelry, pearls require special care. To avoid scratching the surface, avoid placing pearl jewelry next to objects with sharp edges, like other jewelry. Ideally, you should use a silk pouch, or an isolated, separate compartment in your jewelry box to contain it, but pearls require the moisture in the air to maintain their luster, so airtight storage is not recommended. Pearls don’t require anything other than a dry or damp soft cloth to fully clean. However, any acidic substance will damage your pearls, so if they’ve been exposed to perfume, wash them using a bar of soap and water, as to not discolor them. The classic method is to string pearls on silk thread with a knot between each in order to prevent rubbing and to keep each one secure should the thread break. Depending on how much you wear your pearls, you will likely need to restring and reknot your pearls every couple of years.

These factors are all very important to understand when buying pearls. Because each pearl harvested is completely different and very individual, it is essential to follow good quality grading standards to obtain the best match for your needs.