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Whether you are planning for a freshwater pearl necklace, studs, or rings, the most important is to understand the pearl's grades, as it determines the quality and value of a pearl.

A good understanding of grades will help you make an informed decision and choose pearls that meet your requirements. Let’s talk about the freshwater pearl grading system.

But, before that a brief discussion on …

Factors that decide Freshwater Pearls Grade:

Freshwater pearls grade is based on some of their qualities like luster, surface, size, shape, nacre thickness and surface quality. Let’s check them in detail.

Luster: The shiny reflection of a freshwater pearl is due to its luster. This feature depends on the amount of light reflected and ultimately decides its value. Excellent luster means high-quality pearls with bright and shining surfaces.

Size: The larger the size of the pearl, the more expensive it gets. The size of freshwater pearls usually can range from 4 MM to 12 MM.In some cases, 16 MM is also noticed. Large-size pearls are valued more and are rare too.

Shape: Perfectly round-shaped pearls are rare and valued more. Besides round, oval, near round, drop or button and more shapes are also cultivated in freshwater pearls.

Color: The color of freshwater pearls can be white, lavender, peach, and pink, having an overtone of rose, silver and cream. Some freshwater pearls lack orient, and overtone, and are valued less.

Surface Quality: Value and durability of pearls is affected by blemishes on it’s surface. These can appear in the form of wrinkles and pits, and affect overall look of the pearl. Pearls with clear blemishes are considered of low-quality.

Nacre Quality: Nacre thickness determines the value of freshwater pearl. High-quality freshwater pearls usually have thicker nacre.

A-AAA Grading System For Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are graded on the basis of the A-AAA Grading System, with A-AAA grade representing the finest quality pearls and A grade pearls considered of lowest commercial value.

A-AAA Freshwater Pearl Grade

These freshwater pearls are almost perfectly round in shape. A little deviation of less than 5% from the spherical shape is seen in some cases. They boast a brilliant luster with no surface blemishes, and exhibit consistent tone, shape, and color. These are highest quality freshwater pearls.

AAA Freshwater Pearl Grade

These category pearls have great luster with minor blemishes between 5-10%. Usually they are circular or oval in shape and their color, tone, size and shape show little variations.

AA Freshwater Pearl Grade

80% of these freshwater pearl’s surface is blemish-free, few spots are visible. These category pearls have a fair luster with moderate reflection. A slight imperfection in shape is noticed and they are off-round. Good to fair matching; may find variation in color, tone, luster, shape or size.

A Quality Freshwater Grade

Less than 50% of these freshwater pearl’s surface is blemish free, spots are easily visible. These category pearls have a dull luster with a low rate of reflection. They are visibly off-round in shape.

For a Quick Comparison

Criteria A-AAA Quality Grade AAA Quality Grade AA Quality Grade A Quality Grade
Luster Excellent luster. Very good luster. Good luster. Fair quality luster.
Surface Quality Flawless surface. Slight blemishes on the surface. Noticeable blemishes. Easily Noticeable imperfections.
Shape Mainly round in shape. Slightly off-round shape. Off-round shape. Off-round shape.
Overall Quality Exceptional quality pearls Very good overall quality Good overall quality Overall quality is fair.

Comparison of Different Grades

Whenever comparing pearls, to decide between highest and lowest is not that tough. However when it comes to choosing between A-AAA, one may find themselves stuck between balancing beauty and budget. Both of these grades feature excellent luster, beautiful, even color saturation and overtones, excellent matching throughout and look fine when worn.

But there are a few differences that can be considered like, A-AAA pearls have a sharper and brighter luster, and are perfectly round in shape, when closely inspected. Although from a distance they appear to be just round. While luster of AAA grade pearls is not that crisp and they may appear to be off-round shape when closely inspected.

A-AAA pearls have a little smoother surface with fewer imperfections in comparison to AAA pearls. This smoother surface enhances their overall appearance. On the other hand AAA pearls may show small flaws on their surface,, but they are affordable. Ultimately, the choice between A-AAA and AAA pearls will entirely depend on your personal preferences and budget.

Tips for Selecting High-Quality Freshwater Pearls

Here are few important tips that can help you in the journey of selecting freshwater pearls. Check them out.

Check their Authenticity: A variety of tests like tooth test, uniformity test and rub test can help in differentiating real pearls from fake.

Consider Luster: The highly reflective luster of the pearls makes them highly valuable. Pearls with chalky or dull appearance should be avoided. This is the most important feature that should be considered.

Avoid Pearls with blemishes: Blemishes affect the quality of pearls as discussed, so they should be avoided.

Choose Perfect Round Pearls: Perfect round shaped pearls are considered of the best quality. Don’t compromise here.

Check their Weight: Fake pearls are lighter than genuine ones.

Check Holes: Obvious and larger holes are quite evident in fake pearls, so avoid them if you notice such pearls.

Wrapping Up:

Freshwater pearls known for their lustrous elegance are often chosen for different jewelry pieces. These beautiful pearls can be assessed on the basis of different factors like luster, color, shape, nacre thickness, surface quality, and pearl matching. A-AAA Pearl Grading System is commonly used for grading. A-AAA system grades AAA pearls as high-quality gems and A grade as lowest. Selecting the right Freshwater pearl involves understanding its grade, comparing grades, considering budget, shape, and size, and purchasing from a reputable jeweler.


  1. What stone pairs well with Freshwater Pearls?

    Freshwater pearls have their own allure and they look too beautiful when crafted on white, yellow gold or sterling silver. Emerald, sapphire, and diamonds, all these gemstones create amazing jewelry pieces when paired with freshwater pearls.

  2. What is the difference between Pearls And Freshwater Pearls?

    Only the environment in which these pearls are made, is the difference that can be considered between pearls and freshwater pearls. they are either natural or cultured or can either be made in freshwater or seawater.

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