Pearl Qualities- Luster

Pearl Qualities- Luster

You might be thinking about purchasing some pearls for the coming holiday season and I want to give you some guidelines for making a decision on what kind of pearls to buy and what qualities to look for in pearls.

This will be more than a one week blog, but please, email me with any questions that you have. I really want you to make an educated purchase.

There are six different qualities that you will want to look for when you buy pearls. And, there are at least four different varieties of pearls to choose from. All of these have their pros and cons.

The first and what I consider the most important quality of a pearl is its LUSTER. This is the soul of a pearl. It is the essence of the beauty and brilliance. Luster is the light that is reflected from the surface of the pearl through all of the multiple layers of the nacre that a mollusk deposits on a nucleus or an inserted piece of tissue. The higher the quality of the nacre will produce the highest quality of lustrous shine and reflection.


In this photo from the Gemological Institute of America, from top to bottom, these Japanese saltwater cultured pearls show excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor luster. The differences in the sharpness of the reflections between each adjacent strand are subtle but still noticeable.

Luster is one of the most significant pearl qualities. The luster of a pearl is much more than the luster of an object that is just reflective of the light on its surface. Luster refers to the light reflected off the internal layers of a pearl’s nacre. It’s a glow from within the pearl. The pearl’s layers of nacre is a translucent substance that is layered like bricks. Natural light travels through these layers and reflected back out in a prismatic lustrous rainbow in the best examples. The quality of the nacre is what creates the quality of the pearl’s luster.

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