For Consumers: Resolving Complaints About A Member
We are passionate about protecting the confidence of consumers within the pearl industry.
We expect all of our members to comply with our Code of Ethics at all times whilst trading. If you do have a complaint about a member, please try to resolve it directly with them in the first instance. We take all complaints raised about our members very seriously. Whilst we do not get directly involved in consumer disputes, should you wish to highlight a complaint to The British Pearl Association about the member, please use the contact us form on this website. We will review the complaint and if the Committee deem appropriate, Membership to the Association may be withdrawn.
For Consumers: About Pearl Jewellery
The items of jewellery which our members design, are crafted with a passion for quality and aesthetic design. Please remember that most of the materials they use to make jewellery are natural and have been harvested from the seas (pearls, shell, coral etc) or mined from the earth’s (gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, gemstones and minerals). They are natural materials which means that they will come with natural imperfections and irregularities. Ask your jewellery designer about how to maintain its condition.
Easy Consumer Guide to Buying Pearls
Confidence for the consumer when buying pearls is key at the British Pearl Association.
We want to offer some of our knowledge about how to grade a pearl. First, there is no official grading system,( like there is with diamonds,) but it is generally accepted though that the following 7 qualities determine the value or quality of a pearl.
The Size of a pearl
The larger the pearl, the more rare it is. For example, a large akoya pearl is rarer and more valuable than a smaller akoya pearl.
The mollusc that produces the South Sea pearl is larger than the mollusc that produces the Japanese saltwater cultured pearl. One of the largest, natural pearls ever found was a 17.4 mm (33.14 carat) round pearl produced by the gold lip oyster or Pinctada maxima. It was estimated that this huge pearl would have taken approximately 10 years to grow. It was valued at £250,000! Wow!
The shape of a pearl
A round pearl is the most difficult to grow or culture- hence why the more spherical a pearl is, the rarer and more valuable it is.
Spherical pearls are often the most difficult to grow or culture. However, there are some incredibly valuable and expensive non- spherical pearls and these are often highly prized and sought after just as much.
The “Peregrina” , a pear shaped pearl , is widely considered to be one of the most important pearls in the world with a history dating back 550 years.
Colour of a pearl
The value of the colour of a pearl will depend on supply and demand, and on fashion. For example, recently pink pearls have been very much in favour with the rich and famous and consequently prices have increased.
The Lustre of a pearl
This is what gives the pearl its’ iridescence and shine. Pearls with a high lustre will have very high reflection quality, shine and brightness.
Surface quality of a pearl
The surface quality of a pearl reflects the pearl’s value. A pearl with few blemishes, marks, spots and scratches are the most valuable. However, it must be remembered that pearls are organic gems and most pearls are not perfect.
This wonderful photo of pearls on coral is courtesy of our expert member Jewellery Imaging
The quality of the nacre
The thicker the nacre around the pearl, the more durable and long lasting the pearl is considered to be.
Even matching of a pearl
In creating a piece of pearl jewellery for it to be considered valuable, the designer should try and match the pearls with the same qualities.
We want you to be able to buy with confidence and trust in our members’ professional, honesty, integrity and ethical standards. Always look for a member of the BPA. If you are a consumer and still in doubt or need clarification about the quality of a pearl, your pearl jewellery or the provenance of a pearl, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and our pearl expert Adriano Genisi will be happy to help.
For pearl analysis or identification contact the AnchorCert Gem Lab www.anchorcertgemlab.com
A word of Caution
If you are buying pearls from an unknown source on the internet (not a member of the BPA) be careful about what you are buying. Basically if the price seems to good to be true, then it probably is! Some pearls are misrepresented (knowingly or unknowingly) and non-disclosure of treatments is not best practice and contrary to the interests of consumers. For example, pearls are sometimes described as “natural” ,when they are in fact “cultured pearls” or “Tahitian” pearls when they are in fact “dyed black” pearls and not Tahitian in origin.