Pearl pricing and grading procedures have been updated in The Guide, and Richard Drucker, who publishes the internationally recognized grading and pricing book, clarified many of the more confusing aspects of the ever-changing process at a Thursday seminar during The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas.
Drucker discussed how the grading system adapts to the changing quality of pearls, the different enhancements that are now being used, and the different types of pearls on the market.
Most importantly, Drucker reminded those in attendance that the grading systems are meant to serve as “a guide,” not an absolute rule. And he stressed that the system adheres as strictly as possible to the pricing and grading of pearls—not other aspects of selling pearls such as marketing.
“The new grading system organizes the existing grading systems by using four grading guidelines and the different pearl varieties,” Drucker said. “It equates a ranking system for quality and pricing … but no system is perfect.”
The Guide ranks most pearls as commercial, good, fine, and extra fine.
For example, The Guide ranks Japanese akoyas equally by shape, color, luster, and blemish.
For South Sea Pearls, The Guide adapted the Stuller & Paspaley grading system. “We were hesitant at first to use it, because it’s geared toward retail and marketing and we are about grading and pricing,” Drucker noted. It grades luster, shape, color, and complexion. The fine grade for these pearls is identified as extra fine, fine, good, and commercial.
The Guide rates Tahitian black pearls by shape, surface, and color.
Chinese freshwater pearls are graded by shape and overall quality (luster and matching).