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Pearls | What is the difference between AA and AAA quality pearls?
08-01-2011, 10:19 AM

What is the difference between AA and AAA quality pearls?

Thank you for your email.

The AA and AAA grade are part of the grading system that Mikimoto (the brand of chain stores) created.

The nomenclature for the grading system is A, A+, AA and AAA.

As you go up the the ladder in quality, the pearls become more lustrous and they are cleaner.

It is assumed that there is a correlation between luster and nacre (the skin of the pearl).

So better quality pearls such as the AAA have thicker nacre which contributes to the pearls ability to have higher luster and that deep glow that is sought after.

With Japanese Akoya cultured pearls (remember, not all Akoya pearls marketed online on the internet are "Japanese Akoya") Japan's cold water winters may contribute to a pearls higher luster as well. We cannot say if this is true from Chinese Akoya Pearls (Chakoya).

The AAA quality is going to be "very high" luster whereas the AA quality will be "high" luster.

Please remember that when grading gems, it is often a verbal description of what one sees that determines the grade.

In addition, AAA quality is clean (no surface imperfections) whereas AA may have light blemishing.

American Pearl always recommends purchasing the finest quality pearls in your price range. The thinking is that finer quality pearls are more durable (due to the thicker nacre), more beautiful as higher quality more lustrous pearls are more brilliant and they also have the best chance of improving in value.

Please also note that you may see "AA+" mentioned on the internet. As far as we know (having checked with Mikimoto several times) there is no such thing as "AA+". This is simply a way to trump up the "AA" grade so one sellers strand looks better than another. You can phone Mikimoto yourself and ask them if there is such a thing as "AA+".

I hope this helps!
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