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Pearl Guide

Pearl Guide

Pearls celebrate the elegance of simplicity. At Walker & Hall, we have extensive expertise in the sourcing of the very best pearls from around the world. We are proud of our long tradition in providing the highest quality pearl jewellery to New Zealanders and visitors to our country.

Pearls for all occasions

Pearls are surrounded by rich cultural and historical traditions. They've long been symbols of love and purity. The pearl is the gemstone for the month of June and the gem for the third and 30th anniversaries. Pearls are a meaningful gift representing classic beauty, wisdom & growth.

The perfect item to celebrate all number of occasions; and the fashion accessory by which a person can build a collection that allows them to express their individual style in so many ways.

At Walker & Hall, we recognise the power of the pearl - its strong demand as the perfect symbol and appreciation in so many occasions. An Akoya pearl bracelet for a graduation, diamond and freshwater pearl drop for a wedding gift or a stunning South Sea pearl necklace for 30 years of marriage.

The diversity of pearl jewellery is wonderful, with an almost limitless selection of beauty and value. Always in fashion, right for any occasion, our pearl collections range from classically traditional to elegant and contemporary.

What is a pearl?

As products of living animals, pearls are unique gems. In size, shape and even colour, pearls exist in a stunning diversity of forms. Pearls are gems that form inside a living seawater or freshwater mollusc, commonly known as oysters or mussels. The evolutionary history of these creatures date back some 530 million with approximately 100,000 species alive today.

Naturally occurring pearls were once found all around the world, however they have become very rare due to overfishing and pollution, they are now only found in approximately one of every 10,000 molluscs.

Pearls come in an incredible number of sizes, shapes and colours. This is due to the unique conditions under which pearls form, environmental influences and often human ingenuity all play a part in creating the diversity we see in pearls today.

Walker & Hall offer a wide range of pearls for any occasion; from the accessible freshwater pearls, the classic Akoya to the opulent South Sea varieties.

South Sea Pearl Strand

South Sea Pearls

Spectacular sizes and a seductive allure are hallmarks of these rare and valuable pearls. The South Sea pearls come in many stunning colours - from classic white and cream to silver grey, green, blue and peacock. There is also the unique and beautifully vibrant, golden pearl. Walker & Hall are the South Sea pearl experts and we offer a wide variety of colours, shapes and styles.

Model wearing Akoya Pearl Bracelet

Akoya Pearls

These quality pearls are well known for their excellent lustre and will wonderfully complement any outfit. We recommend this pearl type as the ideal choice for classic stud earrings or a stunning matched strand bracelet or necklace. Our Akoya pearl studs are the perfect everyday classic. Choose the perfect size from subtle to statement.

Akoya Pearl Stud Size Guide
Model wearing Baroque Pearl Necklace

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls offer beauty and sentiment at a reasonable price. They make the perfect gift at weddings, graduations or christenings. We have a wonderful collection of freshwater pearl pendants and earrings in both traditional and the latest fashion designs.

Vintage Pearl Ring

Vintage Pearls

Walker & Hall offers a range of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modern & Post-Modern collectable pearl jewellery for every occasion. As these are one-off pieces, they are always changing, so be sure to view our latest selection online or at one of our stores.

History of the Pearl

Treasures from the earth's rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, pearls have always embodied the power and life-sustaining nature of water.

The natural pearl is quite likely the earliest gem used for adornment. Our ancestors foraged seashores and riverbeds collecting mother-of-pearl shells for ceremony and exchange. When a rare pearl was found, it became a sacred possession.

Ancient Persians associated pearls with tears of the gods. Ancient Greeks believed they were created by moonlight on the water. To ancient Chinese, they guaranteed protection from fire. For Europeans, pearls symbolised modesty, chastity, and purity, and are still considered gems for brides.

While natural pearls remain very rare, pearls today are no longer the sole property of royalty and the wealthy. Thanks to advances in modern culturing techniques in the 1930s, pearls have become one of the most accessible gems worldwide.

Pearl Restringing

Our professional pearl stringer can restring your pearls to ensure their safety and security. Pearls can be dropped off at any Walker & Hall store.

Matching Pearls

Pearls have many varying factors in their appearance, this makes matching a hard but very important feature of pearl jewellery, specifically strands, earrings and multi pearl pieces. Most pearl jewellery is matched perfectly in colour, size, lustre, shape and surface. However some pearl jewellery takes advantage of mixing colours, shapes and sizes.

Walker & Hall have many great examples of matching pearls for perfect consistency as well as more diverse styles as fashion changes. For example, the graduated necklace which starts smaller at the back and grows in size towards the front. The Baroque pearl strand which is usually a multitude of of shapes, sizes and colours. There is also the Harlequin strand, inspired by a harlequin's costume, and has pearls alternating in colours or with an ombré effect.

The Value of Pearls

There are six factors that affect the value of cultured pearls are;
Surface, Size, Shape, Nacre, Colour & Lustre


The rough exterior or surface
As pearls are the product of a biological process, their surface often shows minor imperfections. This includes the surface quality, spotting, blemishing and cleanliness. It's the cultured pearl equivalent of clarity.

Almost all pearls have some surface characteristics and the pearl is loosely graded depending on the size, number, location and visibility of the blemishes.

The fewer surface imperfections the more valuable the pearl becomes. Light blemishes however can have a natural appeal for some, such as in baroque shapes.

Size & Shape

Pearls come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and are measured in millimetres. Although most people think of pearls as round, it is much more common for pearls to be irregularly shaped, while perfectly spherical pearls are rare. In black pearls only 5% are formed perfectly round.

As a mollusc is more likely to reject a large pearl, fine quality large pearls are reasonably rare and command premium prices.


Coats of Quality
This is the quality and thickness of the pearls nacre coating. Nacre thickness depends on the length of time the pearl spends in the mollusc. Good quality pearls will have 1 millimetre of nacre, lower qualities, however, may have 0.5 millimetre or less.

One clue to thin nacre is 'blinking', the pearls in a necklace flicker lighter and darker as they're rotated under a bright light.


Not just pearly white
Pearls occur naturally in a spectacular array of colours, ranging from white to gold, peacock and black. Colours depend on both the species of the mollusc that produced the pearl and the environment in which it lived within.

A pearls colour can have up to three separate components, these are: basic body colour, a blush like overtone - translucence, iridescent orient. Orient is a mixture of colours shimmering just below the pearls surface. This is a relatively rare effect and is often seen most in baroque pearls. It is caused by light breaking up as it passes through layers in the nacre.


A distinctive glow
One of the distinctive features of a pearl, lustre refers to the shine of a pearl and is its most endearing feature.

Because a pearl's surface is spherical, it acts as a convex mirror, reflecting light from the layers of nacre. These act like tiny prisms so that the light appears to emanate from within the pearl itself.

Lustre ultimately depends on the size, transparency and arrangement of the nacre, which is in turn influenced by the growing conditions of the pearl, particularly water temperature. Lustre is a critical beauty element for every pearl and the higher the lustre the better it will mirror the colour on which it rests. For these reasons, very high lustre pearls are always the most sort after.

This item is available by Special Order. Please enquire for pricing and ordering details.