How to find your pearl jewellery personality? It’s about being authentic and choosing something you would truly love to wear – but the right pearl size will make your choice unique.
Although choosing the right pearl size largely comes down to personal preference, there are several things you may want to consider before making your final decision.
From the kind of jewellery you’re looking for to your style, age and budget, below we break down some of the key ways to find the best pearl size for you. We’ll also cover the most popular sizes by pearl type, as well as some helpful tips to bear in mind when narrowing your search.
Different pearl sizes by type
Pearl size depends on a number of factors. This includes growing time in the water, the type of mollusc the pearl is nurtured in and the size of the nucleus used to form it. However, each type of pearl does have an average size, measured in mm:
- Seed pearls –1-3 mm (often added to jewellery for detail)
- Akoya pearls –3-8mm (can reach up to 10mm)
- Freshwater pearls –2-9mm (can reach up to 15 mm)
- Tahitian pearls –8-15mm (can reach up to 18mm)
- South Sea pearls –9-16mm (can reach up to 20mm)
How to choose the right pearl size for you
By jewellery style
The most common pearl size to feature in classic pearl necklaces and earrings is around 7-8mm. This is partly because Freshwater pearls are the most popular on the market and this is their average size. However, it’s also because single strand pearl necklaces, made up of 7-8mm pearls, are highly wearable for a variety of occasions. They are ageless and noticeable, without being overpowering.
If you like statement jewellery, you’ll love necklaces and bracelets featuring pearls of 9-10mm plus, which draw the eye to the pearl’s natural lustre. Meanwhile, 6-7mm pearls offer a more subtle and minimalistic look, for those seeking a simple addition to their everyday outfits.
For pearl stud earrings, 7-7.5mm pearls will sit centrally on the lobe without looking heavy or falling forward. However, pearl drop earrings tend to boast multiple pearls or larger pearl sizes - the gentle sway of the pearls suspended from your ears evokes an elegant and sultry style.
7-8mm pearls also make stunning focal points for pearl rings, while seed pearls and gemstones may also be used to add sparkle. Pearl rings are still quite an unusual ring choice, with most people opting for solid gold or diamonds - which is why we love them. Pearl rings are a chic addition to your jewellery personality.
Top tip:For pearl bracelets and rings, always consider practicality as well as style. If your chosen piece features large pearls, it may not be suitable for daily wear as the pearls could get scratched – for example, when typing at your desk. In this case, it would be best to stick to a simpler, small pearl design.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wearing pearl jewellery. However, choosing pearl size by age can be a good starting point if you’re not sure which will suit you best. Broadly speaking, we’d suggest the following age brackets:
- 3 to 6.5mm – children and teens up to 16 years old
- 5 to 7mm– aged 16-25
- 7 to 7.5mm – aged 18-35 (will suit older too)
- 5 to 8mm– aged 25-45 (will suit older too)
- 8 to 9mm – aged 35+ (may suit younger, depending on style)
- 9 to 10mm+– aged 40+ (may suit younger, depending on style)
The reasoning behind these recommendations is that small pearls are more subtle and therefore suit smaller frames, while larger, “power strands” ooze confidence, grace and project a sense of importance. Small pearl sizes therefore tend to suit younger clients best, and large pearls complement successful career focused more mature clients.
Top tip: chunky pearl necklaces help to camouflage wrinkles at the base of the neck.
Mid-sized pearls, on the other hand, are very versatile and will complement all ages. This makes them a staple piece in any jewellery box and as such, great graduation, birthday, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day gifts.
If you’re aged 20-30 and looking for your first pearls, a Freshwater pearl necklace featuring 7-8mm pearls in a neutral colour like white, pink, black or grey, could be ideal. You won’t outgrow this pearl size as quickly as smaller pearls. Plus, as you get older, or move up in your career, you can always progress to larger pearls to reflect that.
By value and occasion
The final factors to consider when browsing different pearl sizes is when you plan to wear the pearls and your budget. These go hand in hand because the larger the pearl, the more expensive it will normally be - due to the time and care needed to grow the pearl.
South Sea and Tahitian pearls are some of the biggest, rarest and most valuable pearl types in the world. Meanwhile Freshwater pearls are smaller and more readily available, making them more affordable. Because of this, a more casual set of small or mid-sized pearls is ideal for everyday wear, and larger pearls are usually saved for formal events and parties - due to their worth and their lustrous finish.
If you’re in need of a set of pearls for all eventualities, a pearl size of 7-8mm provides the perfect middle ground between understated and elaborate. These pearls can be dressed up or down, worn to work, on a weekend or out for dinner, and they’ll always look effortlessly chic. Plus, there are many pearl types available in this size bracket.
Top tip: When buying Tahitian or South Sea pearls, choosing a graduated or single pearl necklace will help to keep costs down. This is because pearls over 10mm are much harder to source and colour match, which increases their price tag significantly.
However, South Sea and Tahitian pearls do hold their value over time if looked after, making them a perfect investment piece for a big birthday or wedding anniversary.
Find the perfect pearl size for you at CD Pearls
At Coleman Douglas pearls, we have a vast collection of different pearl sizes to choose from. From small Akoya pearls to mid-size Freshwater pearls and large South Sea and Tahitians, we have something to suit every age and budget.
Still unsure which pearl size to choose? Book a 1:1 consultation with one of our pearl experts and we’ll help you pick the perfect pearls for your frame and style.
Alternatively, our bespoke jewellery service enables you to develop your own design and select the pearls you want to include. Simply enquire online to learn more.