Confusions in Pearl Grading-Tahitian Pearls

Confusions in Pearl Grading-Tahitian Pearls

Learn more about pearl grading so you can make a more informed decision in your pearl purchases. 

#1 MOST IMPORTANT- There is no way to compare grades from one company to another. All grading systems are subjective s withand all are devised by each company themselves. There is just no standardized or universal grading system.

Tahitian Pearls have their own system of grading. Traditionallly, Tahitian Pearls are graded in an ABC range which is equivalent to the AAA+ to A+ in Freshwater and Akoya Pearls grading. This is where a lot of the confusion starts. 

First, the absolute pinnacle of pearl quality is the Gem Grade pearl. It is flawless with outstanding luster and no imperfections.


90% flawless and perhaps an inclusion which can be drilled and set to appear clean. Very high luster.


80% flawless with only 1 or 2 inclusions that can be set to appear clean. Very high luster.


70% flawless with only 1 or 2 deep inclusions  with luster that is high to very high


40% flawless with deep inclusions of not more than 10% of the surface. Luster is medium to high.


60% of the surface will be flawed with deep inclusions. Luster is poor to medium.

Tahitian Pearls must have a depth of nacre of at least .8mm to legally be exported. The rest are destroyed to preserve the integrity of the Tahitian Pearl market by the Ministere de la Perliculture of Tahiti.

I have seen pearls that are clearly not of the exportable level. These are black market Tahitians and illegal. Like all black market items, they are of no value and ruin the good faith of the Tahitian pearl culture. Be very aware!

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