4 of the World’s Most Expensive Pearls (Are They Worth It?)

Diamonds, emeralds, and birthstones are lovely additions to any piece of jewelry, but there is something about the elegance of a pearl that is hard to match. There are numerous options available when it comes time to purchase a pearl and you may be wondering if it’s worth the expense to purchase the most expensive styles over the less expensive, cultured pieces.

The most expensive pearls are going to range in price from $50 to $200,000. This is because the value of a pearl is going to be determined based on its type, size, color, shape, luster, and quality. Further, natural pearls will fetch the highest prices compared to cultured ones since a naturally occurring pearl has more demand and less available product.

When deciding whether or not the world’s most expensive pearls are a worthwhile purchase, you should know that each pearl has a wide range of possible prices that are determined based upon the gemstone’s luster, size, shape, and color. Keep reading to learn more about these factors and to see which pearls are given the highest value.  

World’s Most Expensive Pearls

1. South Sea Pearls – $100,000

South Sea Pearls are the most valuable pearl and have a price range from $1,000 to $100,000. Part of the reason these pearls are considered so valuable is due to their rare nature.

They are simultaneously the largest gemstone on the market and offer the most variety.

Pearl size

As far as pearl sizes go, the south sea pearl comes in some of the largest available sizes. With a range of 8 mm to 20 mm, these pearls average a 12 mm size.

On rare occasions, south sea pearls larger than 20 mm have been found. These fetch the highest prices due to how uncommon they are!

Pearl color

Known for their silvery-white color, south sea pearls are beloved for their natural color ranges that complement any style.

The deepest golden color of these pearls is referred to as a 24 karat due to its resemblance to gold. Pearls of this hue fetch the highest prices.

Pearl shape

The south sea pearl is often seen in a classic or baroque shape. Classic shapes feature the traditional roundness seen in may pearl string necklaces and stud earrings. Any pearl shape that does not appear symmetrical and round is referred to as baroque.

Pearl luster

Renowned for its depth and tone, the south sea pearl offers a lot of luster! A pearl’s luster is graded on a scale of Grade A to Grade D, with Grade A’s representing the highest luster content.

Very few south sea pearls offer a Grade A luster rating, which means those that do will fetch the highest prices.

While the south sea pearl is both the most expensive and popular pearl on the market, you can easily find pieces that are affordable to your budget. If the perfectly symmetrical pieces are out of your price range, consider opting for a baroque set of pendant earrings.

Although round shapes are ideal for studs, a pendant design is perfectly suited for the natural indentations of baroque pearls.

Tahitian Pearls (up to $25,000)

Consider a Tahitian pearl for a more exotic look. Featuring dark, moody colors, these pearls are a stunning focal point for any piece of jewelry.

Pearl size

Tahitian pearls are some of the largest pearls in the world and are most often seen in a range of 8 mm to 18 mm in size. However, the size of Tahitian pearls is not the only factor that contributes to their beauty.

Pearl Color

Featuring a breathtaking iridescent color scheme, these pearls offer an exotic and stunning appearance. The Tahitian pearl is available in a multitude of colors, including dark gray, dark green, dark purple/blue, and white.

While white is the most popular color, you should look for shimmer and undertone for the highest-valued pieces.

Pearl shape

The classic round shape of pearls is quite hard to come by in the Tahitian variety. For this reason, you should expect to pay the highest prices when purchasing the round versions of these gemstones.

Pearl luster

Pearl luster is graded on a scale of “Excellent” to “Poor”. The higher the Tahitian pearl’s luster, the higher the value overall.

For excellent graded pieces, you should look for pearls that have sharp reflections and bright and distinct displays.

Akoya Pearls (up to $10,000)

The classic pearl. Featuring symmetrical roundness and the timeless white, these were the first pearls to ever be farmed. While they range on the smaller size of pearls, their stunning appearance is hard to beat.

Pearl size

Akoya pearls typically range in size from 1.0 mm to 9.5 mm. At their largest, you may see a rare few featured at 10.00 mm. The most popular size for these gemstones is in the 6.0 mm – 6.5 mm range.

Pearl color

When looking for the classic akoya pearl color, you should select one that features the timeless white appearance. Beyond body color of the pearl, the overtone matters as well. For overtones of rose or silver, you can expect to pay the highest prices.

While these overtones are the most expensive and popular, you should note that it is quite challenging to tell the overtone of the pearl once it is draped around your neck or sitting closely to your clothing.

For this reason, you should focus less on the overtone and more on the pearl that appeals the most to you.

Pearl shape

The most common shape of the akoya pearl is round, semi-round, and drop. This in part due to the way these beautiful pieces are formed.

Pearl luster

Due to its thinner coating when compared to other pearls, akoyas offer a stunning amount of luster. This pearl is known for perfection in roundness, color, and its shine.

Freshwater Pearls (up to $20,000)

While akoya pearls are produced by oysters and freshwater pearls are produced by mussels, in appearance, these pearls look almost identical. Available in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors, freshwater pearls are quite versatile and are often much less expensive than other options.

Pearl size

Freshwater pearls can range in size from 4.00 mm all the way up to 12.00 mm, with the most popular sizes resting around 6.0 mm to 7.00 mm.

Pearl color

While freshwater pearls can range in colors all the way from white to black, and with several colors in between, the most valuable color is white.

The reason is due to the rarity of pure, white freshwater pearls. As with many goods, the less product there is, the more expensive it will be.

Pearl shape

Freshwater pearls are different than other pearls in that they lack a “mother of pearl” bead nucleus. This nucleus is the template that allows pearls to form that classic round shape.

As a result, the most common shape for a freshwater pearl is the “baroque,” which means the most perfectly round of these pearls will call for the highest prices.

Pearl luster

These pearls are famous for their luster, but they also require quite a bit of maintenance. Because of the delicate nature of their coating, the shine can be diminished over time if the gemstones are not properly maintained.

Baroque Freshwater Pearls

Are the Most Expensive Pearls Worth the Price?

The price of the most expensive pearls ranges from $50 to $200,000. But you might be wondering if they’re worth it? The answer is a resounding yes!

Featuring a wide range of shapes, colors, and luster, these stunning gemstones are worth the price and are available in a range that can meet any budget’s needs.

For the highest valued pieces, you should look for ones that exhibit a high quality reflection, silver or rose overtone, and a pure white body tone.

Shape is also crucial when it comes to price as the pieces with the most perfectly round forms will call for the highest dollar values due to how rare it is to have a non-baroque shaped pearl.

Keep in mind that just because a pearl has a lower price tag does not mean it is any less beautiful or valuable. Many of the baroque shapes and non traditional colors offer eye catching design that’s perfectly suited for teardrop earrings or custom necklaces.

Final Thoughts

While pearls can have high price tags, these purchases are worthwhile. Featuring stunning body colors and subtle overtones, these gemstones offer a value well beyond their price tag.

When shopping for the perfect piece for you, try to consider which pearls will go well with your general style. If you enjoy the bold statement pieces, consider a Tahitian pearl necklace in a vibrant color. For a classic and timeless look, you may want to go with the traditional akoya pearl. In this case, look for the perfectly rounded shape, highly reflective luster, and white body color with silver overtone.

No matter which piece you select, you can’t go wrong when you purchase one of these gemstones.