Pearl Grading

Understanding pearl grading is crucial in order to purchase the highest quality pearls at the best possible value. While other gems such as diamonds have standardized grading systems that allow uniformity in the consumer market, unfortunately the pearl industry has not adopted a universal grading system. This sometimes results in confused customers who find it hard to make an "apple-to-apples" comparison when looking at pearl jewelry on multiple websites. HELAS follows the most commonly accepted pearl grading system, which is the AAAA quality system. Please scroll down below to view our grading tables for each pearl type. It is important to note that often times grading is subjective and consumers might be told that they are getting "AAAA Quality" pearls, when in fact the pearls are of lesser quality. This is the reason why it is crucial to work with companies who have solid reputations in their industries, as well as ample reviews from similar customers such as yourself.

Akoya pearls range in size from as small as 4.0mm to as large as 10.0mm. Akoya pearls below 7.0mm in size are considered to be below-average in size. Necklaces ranging from 7.0mm to 8.0mm are generally more popular, while anything above 8.0mm is considered to be more rare and valuable, especially in higher qualities. HELAS is proud to offer one of the most extensive Akoya pearl collections on the internet. 

InformationLow Quality Akoya representing the bottom 50% of pearl harvest. (Not Sold at HELAS)Medium-Grade Akoya representing top 60% of harvest. Commonly found at jewelry stores and major department stores. (Not Sold at HELAS)High-Grade Akoya representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in fine jewelry stores.High-Grade Akoya representing the top 5-10% of a pearl harvest. Found in fine jewelry stores.GEM Quality Akoya representing the highest 1% of a pearl harvest. Accompanied by numbered certificate by the Pearl Science Laboratory of Japan.
Surface Heavy blemishing with only 50% or less clean surface.Minor to medium blemishing witd a 70-80% clean surface.Minor blemishing with at least 90% of the pearl surface clean.Very minor to no blemishing with at least 95% of the pearl surface clean.99% or cleaner pearl surface with either very minor to no blemishes visible.
LusterPoorMedium HighVery High Superior
NacreThinMedium ThickVery Thick Very Thick
ShapeRound/Off Round RoundPerfectly Round Perfectly Round Perfectly Round

Understanding Pearl Nacre

Nacre thickness is an important factor when measuring a pearl's quality. HELAS is committed to offering pearls that consist of very thick nacre coatings. In truth, most governments set a minimum nacre thickness to prevent low quality pearls from being exported from the country. Furthermore, all pearls are x-rayed and evaluated prior to export to ensure that they meet the strict nacre standards of their particular region. Therefore, all pearls on the retail market have already been approved by this standard. All pearls used by HELAS have undergone these inspections to ensure that they are of the highest quality.