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Next to diamonds, pearls are a girls best friend. The history of pearls is a long one, remaining strong today. For this reason, many brides will wear a strand or two of pearls at her wedding. This is also the reason that she will embellish her veil, gown, and accessories with what - pearls.

In the world today, several hundreds of types of pearls are available for the choosing. Each of these pearls fall within four major categories to include:

Akoya This is also more commonly called the Japanese Pearl. The Akoya pearl is your classic white pearl that is priced affordably. Strands are usually 16 inches long and the pearls measure from 7 to 7 1/2-millimeters in size. For a single strand of Akoya pearls, you can expect to pay from $1,000 to $1,500. Additionally, this type of pearl is available in several colors from silvery white to blue-gray to pure white. Interestingly, the Akoya pearl makes up 75% of all the pearls in the world.

Freshwater This type of pearl is the most affordable and usually is found in asymmetrical shapes. Freshwater pearls also come in a number of colors that include black and white and they can be dyed. Grown in mussels in lakes and rivers, a 16-inch strand of five twists will cost about $150.

Tahitian Black Pearl - Even though this pearl is called black, it actually comes in several colors that range from a silvery gray color to deep black.

South Sea White Pearl Just like the Tahitian Black Pearl, the South Sea White Pearl is also found in Indonesia, Australia, and the Philippines. This pearl has a beautiful, satin-like color of white as well as cream, silvery white, and a very rare color of gold.

If the pearls are of good quality, they will last for generations. You want to make sure they are kept alcohol free, which means not spraying perfumes on while wearing the pearls. Additionally, store them away from hard stones off by themselves. To keep them lasting, you should have them restrung about every two years to avoid breakage.

Pearls are one gem not rated by any industry-wide grading system. Therefore, you need to know a few things before buying pearls so you buy quality at a fair price.

Do all the pearls match well? Remember, natural pearls will not all match and although they may be close in size, they will not be perfect. Therefore, if all the pearls on the strand areidentical, they are not real.

Look for flaws on the surface. Imperfections are common so do not be worried by small flaws but avoid large pits or blemishes, especially near the hold drilled, as they can become larger over time.

Do the pearls look slightly pink, which is not a bad thing but will tell you if you can expect to pay more money. The most popular pearls include rose, which is one of the highest in price.

Look at the pearls to see if they are semi-round, drop-shaped, baroque, or a perfect orb. Pearls that are the roundest are the most valuable. However, half pearls, which are called mabes, are very popular in that they are larger and do not cost as much as perfect pearls.

Most important of all, you want the pearl to be lustrous where it looks as though the brightness is radiating from within.

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