where and how do I buy jewelery (pearls)

I might be getting a good Christmas bonus this year and wish I could buy my wife a pearl necklace. I haven’t a clue as to the cost or where is the best place to buy one.
Should I not bother? If I can do this, where should I go?

You can get pearls in just about any jewelery stores. The price will range from $50 to several thou depending on whether you get freshwater (which look like anything from rice crispies to slightly off-round pearls) or saltwater cultured pearls (nearly to perfectly round). Pearls can be white, pink, cream, gold or black (blueish or gray). The most popular color is a pinkish white, though golds look very nice against darker skin (and not so nice with pale skin, IMHO). The bigger the pearl, the more it will cost. The less blemishes (pits, bumps) and higher luster (shine, depth of color) the better the quality; most pearls are rated A, AA, or AAA but you can’t depend on many jewelery stores to know the grades offhand. My personal recommendation is a 16" strand of 6mm to 7mm pearls; that’s a good size pearl and is “choker-length”, a short strand (though get 18" if you wife has a thicker neck). For a later gift, you can buy a bracelet and she can chain them together to make a longer strand. Cultured pearls will be significantly more than freshwater pearls, and some freshwater pearls can look almost identical to cultured, so if your first look at cultured pearl prices makes you gasp, check out freshwater.

I’d recommend finding a local jeweler and avoiding malls. What’s most important is that it is something you (and your wife) think is beautiful and is a price range you feel comfortable with. For good cultured pearls you’re probably looking at about 1200 and up for a 6mm necklace; for freshwater, probably 100 to 800 (higher prices for ones that look closest to cultured). However, there are many, many types of pearls out there so this is a ballpark only!

Oh, and you test to see if pearls are real or glass by rubbing them against your teeth; real pearls feel a bit gritty, glass is smooth. But it is a bit gauche to mouth all the pearls in the store. :wink:

If you are so inclined, you can check with reputable pawn shops. I used to work in one and we had pearls all the time. I bought Mrs. Blue Sky a pearl necklace for about $250 that would have cost nearly three times as much at a jewelry store.

Excellent advice from both Gaudere and ** Mr. Blue Sky**.

DON’T buy a graduated pearl strand. The 6-7 mm **Gaudere recommends is about right.

We sell estate pearls for about 1/3 the price they cost new in a jewelry store.

But you have to be careful who you buy estate items from.

Don’t forget to ask about nacre - cultured pearls are beads coated with pearlystuff (also called nacre, I think). After a while, the nacre can wear away and all you get is an expensive necklace of crappy beads. The thicker the nacre, the more durable and “pearl-y” the pearl.

What ever you intend to buy, check it against the inventory at www.bluenile.com. With pearls, it’s the size and the lustre that’s important.

Look at the best pearls first , Mikimotos AAA or AA. or go to Tiffanys. You might have to go to a big city. Ask questions about pearl quality from the best stores. In pearls, lustre shows up as the contrast between where the light reflects them most and the least off the pearl. So when you look at the little ball look for the high light and look for the low light. In a good pearl there will be a big difference. The highlight is so bright in comparison. Once you have seen the best , I agree that buying estate is the way to go because pearls do not hold their value, however since they are objects of affection and not investments there is something to be said for going Mac Daddy and buying them from Tiffanys or Mikkimotto. Taking her there and buying them with her would be my idea of fun date.

Size, color, lack of flaws, lustre, thickness of nacre, orgin, and being well matched in all these things, all effect value.

I agree that 16 inch is a good but if your wife has a really beautiful long neck, choker is sexier. Marlyn Monroe and Jackie O, wore choker lenght. Pearls are not that fashionable right now and I have taken some pearls out and set it aside to make mine 141/2 with a choker chain and I wear them all the time now.

This is a delicate matter, but are you sure your wife wants pearls? As I said they are not that fashionable right now. Watch the DeBeer commercials they usually know what a girls wants.

um, amateur necklace maker here.

if you know anyone who is heavily into making jewelry/necklaces as a hobby or sideline craft, you can probably contract them to make you a good-quality necklace of whatever length you choose, complete with whatever quality/type of metal clasp you desire, hand-knotted on silk thread, for nearly half of what you’d be charged in a jewelry store.

i tend to work on the lower end quality of pearls and gemstones (simply because it’s a hobby for me right now, and the people i sell things to aren’t wanting to fork over big prices for the most part). but i have access to catalogs, gem and jewelry shows and such. from them you can buy graded pearls in “raw” strings and create whatever length/number of strands items you wish.

heck, i’ve gotten some very nice, potato-type white freshwater pearls (not perfectly round, but not bumpy enough to be classified “baroque”), maybe around 6.5-7 mm, for around $35 a strand. (this from a jewelry factory in Thailand.)

and i’d generally recommend an 18-inch necklace as a good overall length. a raw 16-inch strand (normal standard length), plus clasp and knotting between pearls, usually makes up to an 18-inch necklace. it’s long enough to show at the top of a dress or blouse, without getting caught up in any collar or slipping behind the average neckline.

unless your wife is really into chokers, of course.

oh, yeah… the rice-krispy-texture freshwater pearls are considered quite inferior nowadays. they were okay when freshwater pears first came out, because that was the best they could do at the time. but anything of that texture now is generally not thought to be worth using in anything other than multi-strand twisted necklaces, where there are so many strands, possibly of mixed stone types and pearls, that using better quality pearls would be a waste (since the quality would be unnoticeable in the twisty mix).