How to Buy Black Pearls

How to Buy Black Pearls

BLACK PEARLS came on the European market around 1845 and were not highly esteemed right away. They got their first fashion boost when they were taken up by Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III.

Portrait of the Empress Eugenie (1826-1920)

Portrait of the Empress Eugenie (1826-1920)

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SIZE is not necessarily a marker of quality-- a large black pearl (13 millimeters and up) could lack luster or have surface scars--but it does contribute to value because large pearls are so rare. Large black pearls with superb luster and surface quality are at the very top of the pyramid.

"BlACK PEARL" is a misnomer. The gems actually come in a spectrum of colors from telephone black to silver gray. The hue called "fly wing" in French and "peacock" in English for its greenish iridescence is often the most highly valued.

HUMBLE ORIGINS As exotic as they are, most black pearls have a plebian nucleus-- a tiny bit of inserted shell from a pigtoe mussel, a native of the Mississippi River.

THERE IS NO UNIVERSALLY agreed upon system for grading black pearls (or any other kind) as there is for diamonds, which is why relying on a trusted brand is key. Three solid names: Mikimoto, Assael International, and Paspaley Pearls.

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL. Salvador Assael popularized black pearls in America in the 1970s. The company he founded, Assael International, remains one of the world's top dealers in pearls.

Learn more how to buy black pearls.

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