Pearl Buyers Guide

Pearls are one the most highly valued organic gems in the world. They are a symbol of purity and modesty and that's what makes them so popular.

They can either be natural or cultured. Pearls are grown on farms, where oysters are cared for until they develop their own beautiful pearl. Most people are aware of the cream-white pearls that were made popular by Audrey Hepburn in 1961, but pearls naturally come in a tremendous variety of colours.

Shiels jewellery features different types of pearls, from ivory freshwater pearls, to brightly-coloured peacock green pearls. Our classic pearl necklaces are an all-time favourite, but we also have plenty more jewellery pieces that feature your favourite type of pearl.

To help you choose the best pearl jewellery for you, we've created a guide to help you along the way.

Buyer's Guide


Pearls differ in colour, size and shape based on the variety of the mollusc, growing conditions, harvesting techniques and other factors.

Akoya, Cortez, Mabe, South Sea and Tahitian pearls are some of the most popular varieties, each of which has its own set of qualities. Akoya pearls are typically white or cream, but they can also be grey or black. Cortez pearls are available in a range of colours, including a shimmering black pearl. Mabe pearls possess a very high lustre, while South Sea pearls are among the largest cultured pearls and can be white, cream or Gold. Tahitian pearls are naturally grey, silver or black. The most sought-after Tahitian pearl is black with peacock green overtones.

How to buy pearl jewellery

When buying your pearl jewellery, there are a few things you should keep in mind:


Lustre is the sharpness and intensity of reflections on the pearl's surface. This is the most important feature of a pearl.

When you buy pearl jewellery, look at the reflection of images on the pearl's surface. The closer to a mirror image you see, the better the lustre. Pearls with fine lustre also seem to glow warmly from within.


Similar to diamonds, the size of the pearls used in any piece of jewellery is important for both aesthetic and financial reasons. The larger the pearl, the greater the cost, so remember to balance the size of the pearl with the expected cost.


When searching for pearl jewellery, look at how well matched the pearls are when combined in one piece of jewellery. With many subtleties in colour, shape and finish, even a slight difference can create an unbalanced look.

Ensure that you look for pearls that are similar in shape, size and colour but keep in mind that those more closely matched will be more expensive but reflect a higher quality of craftsmanship.

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