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Buying inexpensive pearls


#1

Hi everyone, I am working on a project involving pearls, which I
have never used before. I am a student so I am looking for the most
inexpensive pearls possible, still getting good quality. Anyone have
any resources? Specifically, I need:

26–4mm black, half-drilled pearls (I’m sure tahitian pearls would
be way too costly)

1–8/9mm white, round half-drilled pearl

Thanks,
Vanessa


#2
I am looking for the most inexpensive pearls possible, still
getting good quality 

I would suggest the best thing is for you to go to a large gem show
and look at the incredible variety that is available. “Good
quality” is expensive, but inexpensive pearls can still look pretty
good if you select them carefully. You can’t really see what you’re
getting if you order from a print or on-line catalog.

Tas


#3

Try http://www.jewelrythings.com

Steve Guyot


#4
  I am looking for the most inexpensive pearls possible, still
getting good quality I would suggest the best thing is for you to
go to a large gem show and look at the incredible variety that is
available.  "Good quality" is expensive, but inexpensive pearls can
still look pretty good if you select them carefully.  You can't
really see what you're getting if you order from a print or on-line
catalog. 

Absolutely! I’m not an expert, but I’ve had what GIA gives you on
pearls in the regular GG program – which is about a day of
discussion and show-and-tell (well, okay, maybe it was more than
that) – and then I’ve shopped lots of shows. There is no reason I
feel I need really top-grade pearls (not to mention I can’t afford
them), but of the 7 quality aspects (see
http://www.gia.edu/newsroom/3720/5727/public_interest_articles_detail
s.cfm for what they are / how they define them), size is pretty much
determined by your application, and often shape is too – though
maybe you can bend a little – and I can usually bend on regularity
of shape (baroques usually have better orient anyway), often on
surface quality depending on where they’re to be used, sometimes on
luster a little, but color – no way do I want ‘ivory’ pearls! Most
catalogs will let you choose among their grades, like A-B-C-D or
whatever, but not among what specific quality factors you’ll bend on
and what you won’t. I’ve been really disappointed in some B-grade
pearls I ordered, which were very nice regular-shaped, bright,
smooth oval-rice pearls, that were just very definitely not white.

But that’s me – other people have other priorities – a friend took
me along to JC Penney when they did their ‘100 inches of pearls for
$99.00’ sale, and we looked at a bunch of different strands, and I
showed her the variations – all were about the same grade, but some
were whiter, but the reflection (from a point-source light) was
fuzzy, while others had a nice bright luster, but more yellowish, or
good luster and color but less uniformly round, or whatever. The
sales child (okay, maybe was older than high school, but not much)
was avidly listening and looking, she’d had NO jewelry training to
work the jewelry counter, of course. My friend though ivory was
fine, she wanted the luster and the regular shape. (Her big
question – is this a good deal? – I answered by saying, would you
pay $16.00 a 16"-strand for these at a show? and do you want them
all?)

If you have no experience shopping for pearls, I’d say just go and
look. Look at each vendor’s wares, and look at the hanks
side-by-side, and you’ll begin to see why this one is $3/strand and
that one is $7/strand, and this other one is $23/strand. Then look
at other vendors, the same way. If there are 3 or more vendors with
pearls, you’ll begin to get a good education – but never be able to
remember which-was-what exactly. I always have to judge quality
side-by-side, which is difficult to do between vendors unless you
buy some to take along with you, or you make up your own card of
samples to take with you to compare/contrast.

Just remember, you judge relative quality and price side-by-side,
but then choose what you can afford, and look at it by itself –
won’t look half so bad once there’s not a better-quality strand
right next to it. Might look pretty darn good, then.

To find shows near you, check the calendar sections of the web sites
for Lapidary Journal and Rock & Gem Magazines –
http://www.lapidaryjournal.com/cal1.cfm
http://www.rockngem.com/showdates/showdates.shtml

(any other calendars online?)

If there aren’t any near enough soon enough, let me know as
specifically as you can what you need and I can check my ‘Stash’ –
which is not infinite, but way more extensive than is good for me.

Anyone have any other pearl-shopping tips (not that I plan on buying
any more till mine are used, but they know my name and they call
me…)?

And anyone interested in some very nice ivory-colored cultured rice
pearls?

– Harriet