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The AAA-A pearl grading system

 

This system grades pearls on a scale from AAA to A, with AAA being the highest grade, this grading scale is common to freshwater and akoya pearls only, but is accepted by many South Sea and Tahitian pearl dealers. The AAA to A grades are as follows:

  • AAA: Virtually flawless pearl. Surface luster is very high , and 95% of surface will be free from any defect.
  • AA: The surface will have a very high luster, and at least 75% of the surface will be free from any type of defect.
  • A: The lowest jewelry-grade pearl, with low surface luster and/or more than 25% of the surface showing defects.
 
Luster
Luster or shine is the indication of how well the pearl reflects the like. A good way to think of luster is like a mirror. It is a very import value factor for grading pearls.
 

 A

 AA

 AAA

 Nice light reflection,reflected image slightly fuzzy

 Very nice reflection,with good reflection

 Outstanding luster,amazing reflection and clarity

 
 
Surface Guide
Surface describes any divots, small natural scratches and other imperfections on the body of the pearl.
                                         

 A

 AA

 AAA

 More than 25% Inclusions on Surface. Perfections are visible

 75% of the pearl surface is clean.  See small imperfections.

95% of the pearl surface is clean.  Not easy to see imperfections.

 
 
Shape Guide
Pearls grow in various shapes, from barogue to perfectly round, and anywhere in between. The roundness of the pearl can be very small, however those pearls reaching the perfect roundness, also command highest price.
 

 A

 AA

 AAA

 Non-symetrical, off-round,slightly irregular

 Round to casual observer, slight off-round symmetry

 The pearls are of a near perfect round shape

 BAROQUE

 DROP

 OVAL

 Irregular shape with atypical growth

 Tear drop shape perfect for pendants and earrings

 Oval (button) shape perfect for comfortable earrings