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An Appraiser’s Perspective: Are Pearls a Sound Investment?

There are two kinds of pearls that are mostly used for jewelry: Freshwater Pearls and Saltwater Pearls.  

Freshwater pearls are those cultured from lakes. The mollusks used to culture freshwater pearls produce several pearls at the same time and tend to be smaller in size and irregularly shaped.  

Salt water pearls are those cultured from the sea (Akoya, Southsea, Tahitian) and the mollusks produce only one pearl at a time. For purposes of discussion in this blog, I shall be concentrating on Saltwater Pearls.  

Environmental Changes and Its Effect on Pearl Production

Saltwater pearls can gain value over time based on their quality, scarcity, and market demand. We also need to take into consideration the environmental state of the planet.  Global warming has affected the production and cultivation of saltwater pearls, and I have seen a decline in the number of those produced that meet the exacting standards of the jewelry industry. 

In a recent organic gem seminar I attended that was organized by the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA), Betty Sue King, one of the founding members of the Cultured Pearl Association of America and a known and respected industry expert on pearls, shared the alarming effects of global warming and its impact the pearl production industry.  The recent Hong Kong jewelry trade fair also showed an increase in pearl prices.  

Do Pearls Go Up in Value? 

High-quality saltwater pearls with excellent shine and consistency are more likely to see an increase in worth. 

Additionally, unique features like natural colors or larger sizes can add to their value. However, changes in market trends and consumer preferences may cause fluctuations in pearl values. Generally, investing in high-quality pearls can be rewarding for those who understand the market dynamics and make informed decisions.

Related: Passing Down the Legacy: Etiquette for Inheritance Jewelry

Factors Affecting Pearl Value

When assessing the value of pearls, several key factors come into play. Here are a few things to consider:


The shine and reflectivity of a pearl, known as luster, greatly influence its value. High-quality pearls exhibit a bright, mirror-like luster that enhances their beauty and desirability. Therefore, pearls with outstanding luster are more valuable due to their enhanced beauty and ability to reflect light effectively.

Surface Quality

A pearl’s surface should be smooth and free from imperfections to fetch a higher value. Flawless surfaces reflect light evenly, contributing to the pearl’s overall attractiveness.


Larger pearls are generally more valuable due to their rarity, but other factors like luster and surface quality also impact their worth. While size plays a significant role, it is not the sole determinant of a pearl’s value.


The shape of a pearl is also important in determining its value. Perfectly round pearls are most sought after, but other shapes like oval or baroque can also be appealing. Symmetry and uniformity influence value, with well-formed shapes often fetching higher prices.

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Risk Factors in Investing in Pearls

When considering investing in pearls, it’s important to be aware of several risk factors that could impact the value of your investment. Here are a few examples:

Market Fluctuations

The pearl market can change a lot due to shifts in consumer preferences and economic conditions. These changes can affect how much your pearls are worth, potentially leading to gains or losses.

Quality Variability

Pearls come in different qualities, with factors like shine and color affecting their value. Buying pearls without knowing their quality well can mean getting lower-quality ones or paying too much, which could hurt your investment.

Treatment Disclosure

Some pearls undergo treatments like dyeing or bleaching, which can affect their value. Not knowing if pearls have been treated or not can lead to uncertainty and make it harder to invest wisely.

Are Pearls Pawnable?

Unfortunately, not all pawnshops accept pearls as collateral for loan UNLESS the appraiser is trained to distinguish freshwater pearls from saltwater pearls. There is more demand for saltwater pearls compared to its freshwater counterpart.

You also need to consider that pearls are quite abundant here in the Philippines so it’s not as highly coveted in other landlocked countries abroad. These market conditions make pawning pearls here in the Philippines difficult.

Is it Worth it to Invest in Pearls?

It all boils down to preference. Saltwater pearls, especially high-quality ones with excellent luster and surface quality, can appreciate in value over time if you know where and when to sell them. However, you should be aware of risks, such as market fluctuations and variability in pearl quality.  

Personally, I invest in pearls, as they are one of my favorite gemstones, so if I encounter a piece or a set that meets my standards, I purchase them.  It helps that I also have a trusted pearl supplier whom I go to for my pearl requirements, be it for my personal consumption or for my clients.

Generally, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, seek expert advice, and consider your investment goals and risk tolerance before deciding if investing in pearls is right for you. 

Read More: Is Jewelry a Good Investment in 2023?

Discover the True Value of Pearls at Willyn Villarica Jewelry

If you’re seeking expert advice and knowledge for pearls, look no further than Willyn Villarica Jewelry. We offer a personalized approach to help you understand the true worth of pearls and make informed decisions.

Our in-house expert, Ms. Willyn Villarica, leads our dedicated team. She is a distinguished gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America and the only National Association of Jewelry Appraisers member from the Philippines. 

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to discover the beauty and significance of these charming pearls today. Take note that while we offer our services worldwide, clients are responsible for covering all travel expenses.

To learn more, book an appointment now or contact us via email at willynvillarica@willynvillaricajewelry.com. You can also message us through our Facebook (Willyn Villarica Jewelry) or Instagram (@willynvillarica_jewelry) accounts.

  • Willyn Villarica

    Willyn Villarica, a third-generation jeweler from the Philippines, brings a wealth of expertise to the world of gemology and jewelry appraisal. As a licensed Graduate Gemologist, accredited by the prestigious Gemological Institute of America, she is not only a master of her craft but also holds the distinction of being the first Filipino member of the National Associ...

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