What is Pearl Grading
Pearl grading is a system which decides the degree of quality of pearl and pearl jewellery.
But the most important thing to understand is no industry recognized standards exist. Pearl grading system is mess, standards vary from place to place, seller to seller,industry to industry farmer to farmer. Unlike diamond grading, there is no standardized grading system for pearls. Every company in the world that grades and sells pearls is using a system that they themselves devised and created. Every system is subjective and every system is unique. It is therefore impossible to compare grades and grading systems from one vendor or producer to another.
There Are Two Major Pearl Grading Scales
Two major grading scales are in fairly widespread use: the AAA-A scale and the A-D scale. These are the most accepted scales and considered standard by nearly all reputable pearl dealers, both retail and wholesale. Even these scales can become misleading, however, as there is no agreed set of standards. In other words, grading is subjective and one grade will vary from another when comparing different producers or vendors.
Biggest concern regarding A-AAA vs A-AAAA or AAA+ or AAAAA grading scales is that instead of making pearl grading standards as easy as possible to understand, it actually creates a ton of confusion. So be careful! If you see a strange grade like AAAA+, then buyer beware.
Here’s how that works: Instead of having AAA representing the “best” pearl grade, the quadruple AAAA is used to represent AAA grade pearls, and the AAA actually represents the AA+ grade, with subsequent downgrades in pearl quality all the way down the line.
The AAA-A Scale
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 with South Sea and Tahitian pearls as well.
The A-D Scale (or Tahitian Scale)
This system grades pearls on a scale from A to D, with A being the highest grade. This is the system used in French Polynesia (based on a government standard there) to grade Tahitian pearls, and South Sea pearls only. It is therefore sometimes referred to as the “Tahitian system.” While this system is standard in producing countries, other markets will still utilize AAA-A.
It is important to note that the above grading system can be interchanged with the AAA-A system