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Looking for Akoya studs

stracci2000

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 26, 2007
Messages
4,397
I have my mother's studs, but they are not good quality.

So I want to get a good pair.
My requirements are:
White Akoya
7-7.5mm
AAA
Budget is under $200

I have looked at:

Pearl Source ....$117, after 15% discount
Pearls of Joy....$152 after 15% discount
Premium Pearl ...$90
American Pearl...$135 after 15% discount
Pearl Paradise...$175
Pearl Outlet....$125

So of these vendors, who can I trust to give me the best quality for the best price? Are all AAAs the same?

And also, I read that American Pearl claims their AAAs are better than Hanadamas. Can this be true?
I don't know what to do.
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
21,096
Sadly... Everyone's AAA probably will be different!! Heck, some vendors might even have significant gradation within their own AAA grade. No grading standards, no ubiquitous independent assessment or policing authorities :???:

Some vendors might have AAA that are better than their Hanadamas because their AAA are just that awesome.
Some vendors might have AAA that are better than their Hanadamas because their AAA are good, and their Hanadamas are bottom of the barrel stuff that just barely scraped the cert.
The *best* way to buy will be photos!!

I've bought from a few of these vendors.

Pearl Paradise - Consistently great experiences. Don't just click "buy" off the site, have a rep look at options. They're great about sending photos, and if you explain what you're looking for in your pearls (your priorities and what you're more willing to compromise on) they'll preselect for you.

American Pearl - Nice pearls, fair pricing. If the website says "this is the X you will receive", that may not be true - they oversell pretty routinely - but they're quick to find replacements of genuine like kind and quality. BUT. Their QC is dreadful, so there's guaranteed to be some problem with your order if you don't buy in-person, and when you phone in about this problem their customer service is... just thoroughly, irksomely incompetent. After 3/3 frustrating attempts to purchase from them I will neither try again nor recommend. Collection line massively overpriced.

The Pearl Source - Nice pearls. Leon can get a bit carried away with hyping his pearls up - he was quick to tell me that something I was looking for "was impossible", which certainly wasn't true - it just wasn't available off-the-shelf. If I didn't have years of happiness with Pearl Paradise I'd filter the input and buy from them again no problem.

If you're looking for quality above all else - can I throw another vendor into the mix? Andrew Moline runs a small operation - he posts on PS as @amoline. He specializes in akoya, and his akoya are true gem quality by any objective measures. I'm honestly not sure where he falls in terms of price for this size - his specialty goods are priced fairly for what they are, but that fair price is going to be higher than most websites. Worth sending a note. https://www.instagram.com/molinepearls/
 
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molinePDG

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
47
I appreciate the kind comments about me and the pearls I work with :)

Just as a small note that this account is me as trade here on PS. amoline is the pre-trade me :)

I obviously can't comment on any other vendors goods, but I will indeed say to simply ask any vendor you want to consider about how they grade pearls. There's no industry standard, so anyone can make up whatever they want for A, AA, AAAAAA+++omg quality.

Edit for some more info below:

Ask for lots of photos, and make sure that you can talk to a real person who knows about pearls to discuss what your needs and desires are as compared to your budget.

In general, for true best quality pearls, sometimes these have to be searched for and ordered in, because the true top quality isn't something that many vendors like to simply stock anymore.

Finally, consider what type of finding you get with your pearl. With the price of gold so high, there's big variation in the quality of stud finding that a vendor can choose to use for their pearls.
 
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stracci2000

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 26, 2007
Messages
4,397
Sadly... Everyone's AAA probably will be different!! Heck, some vendors might even have significant gradation within their own AAA grade. No grading standards, no ubiquitous independent assessment or policing authorities :???:

Some vendors might have AAA that are better than their Hanadamas because their AAA are just that awesome.
Some vendors might have AAA that are better than their Hanadamas because their AAA are good, and their Hanadamas are bottom of the barrel stuff that just barely scraped the cert.
The *best* way to buy will be photos!!

I've bought from a few of these vendors.

Pearl Paradise - Consistently great experiences. Don't just click "buy" off the site, have a rep look at options. They're great about sending photos, and if you explain what you're looking for in your pearls (your priorities and what you're more willing to compromise on) they'll preselect for you.

American Pearl - Nice pearls, fair pricing. If the website says "this is the X you will receive", that may not be true - they oversell pretty routinely - but they're quick to find replacements of genuine like kind and quality. BUT. Their QC is dreadful, so there's guaranteed to be some problem with your order if you don't buy in-person, and when you phone in about this problem their customer service is... just thoroughly, irksomely incompetent. After 3/3 frustrating attempts to purchase from them I will neither try again nor recommend. Collection line massively overpriced.

The Pearl Source - Nice pearls. Leon can get a bit carried away with hyping his pearls up - he was quick to tell me that something I was looking for "was impossible", which certainly wasn't true - it just wasn't available off-the-shelf. If I didn't have years of happiness with Pearl Paradise I'd filter the input and buy from them again no problem.

If you're looking for quality above all else - can I throw another vendor into the mix? Andrew Moline runs a small operation - he posts on PS as @amoline. He specializes in akoya, and his akoya are true gem quality by any objective measures. I'm honestly not sure where he falls in terms of price for this size - his specialty goods are priced fairly for what they are, but that fair price is going to be higher than most websites. Worth sending a note. https://www.instagram.com/molinepearls/
Thank you for all the detailed information, especially about AAAs.
I need to go back through my list of vendors and scrutinize them a little more.
I have a hodge podge collection of akoyas, all shapes and sizes, strands, pendants, rings, etc.
But none are really great pearls. It's time for some great pearls!
 

stracci2000

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 26, 2007
Messages
4,397
There's no industry standard, so anyone can make up whatever they want for A, AA, AAAAAA+++omg quality.
Yikes! This is worrisome.
BTW, your pearls are divine!
 

seaurchin

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
1,310
I'd go with Pearl Paradise because they have a large selection of pearls, great reputation and generous return policy. I've bought many items from them through the years. Of course they are not the only good pearl vendor out there but they are definitely a solid bet. The price difference could well be a case of "you get what you pay for." Good luck!

 
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