The Best Pearl Necklaces

A woman wearing a large sun hat and a pearl necklace.

Buying Guide for Pearl Necklaces

A man clasps a pearl necklace around a young woman's neck as she smiles.

Why buy a pearl necklace?

As we mentioned in the introduction, pearls are a classic choice. Whether you’re heading to a casual event or a formal affair, you can’t go wrong with a simple string of pearls around your neck. They can make even the most relaxed jeans and a tee look like you put effort into your outfit. Meanwhile, they’re also timeless and never go out of style.

What should you consider when shopping for a pearl necklace?

  • Material: In most cases, the material will refer to whether those pearls are simulated or cultured. Cultured means that the pearl was created by an actual shellfish rather than created in a factory Unsurprisingly, cultured pearls (both freshwater and seawater) will always cost more than imitation ones. But if you’re shopping on a budget or want a larger pearl, opting for imitation will provide more bang for your buck.
  • Color: When you say “pearl,” most people think of the classic white or ivory-hued bead. But pearls come in various colors, both for cultured and simulated options. With cultured pearls, the most common colors include black (which is actually grayish or greenish), pink, lavender, and even gold.
  • Size: Pearls come in a wide range of sizes. Understand that imitation pearls will come in any size, including giant or oversized shapes. For cultured pearls, you can expect to find them anywhere from 2 to 18 millimeters in diameter. Most pearl necklaces will usually feature pearls that are around 7 millimeters in diameter, and this tends to be a classic size that works for most occasions.
  • Shape: Again, most people associate pearls with a round shape, but it’s possible to find them in a wide range of configurations. While round pearls tend to be more expensive, you can also find irregular shapes, pear, and even oval pearls.
  • Appearance: Along with size, appearance matters, too. Usually, this refers to the surface texture and luster. Consider that a pearl is a gemstone, so it’s not unusual to see a few imperfections. But the fewer obvious imperfections, the more expensive a cultured pearl will be. Likewise, a high luster (shine) will be preferred over one that’s dull.

How should you care for your pearls?

Pearls can look fabulous for several decades when well cared for. After you wear your pearls, wipe them with a clean and soft cloth. You can wipe them with a damp cloth and let them fully air-dry before storing them flat in your jewelry box. However, you don’t want to shower in them or wear them 24/7. Excess moisture from water or your skin’s oils can damage them, so keeping them dry and clean is important.

Our Picks for the Best Pearl Necklaces

Pros: Not everyone has a love affair with pearls. For some people, they can feel too “old world.” If this sounds familiar, then you’ll appreciate this single pendant pearl necklace set on an 18-karat gold chain. Choose from rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold. And with a 9- to 10-millimeter cultured freshwater pearl and an 18-inch chain, this will work for casual and fancy affairs.

Cons: While this pick is a happy medium for people that aren’t huge pearl fans, common complaints we did notice centered around the chain. While functional, many noted that it was thin.

Bottom Line: Incorporate pearls without feeling like you’re sitting in a stuffy country club with this simple drop pendant necklace design. With three gold finishes to choose from, there’s something for everyone here.

 

Pros: If you’ve always felt that pearl necklaces are too stuffy, you’ll appreciate this modern twist on the classic pearl choker. This two-piece set of pearl chokers comes with a cute crystal accent. The necklace measures 15.7 inches and has an adjustable 2.7-inch chain closure.

Cons: While cute, these are not cultured pearls. So, if you have your heart set on snagging a pair of real pearls, you’ll want to keep shopping. Additionally, the accents are not real gold or even plated .925 sterling silver. So, if you have sensitive skin you might want to think twice.

Bottom Line: If you’re shopping for a wallet-friendly yet modern approach to a string of pearls, this is a solid choice. However, if you have your heart set on real pearls or are concerned about skin sensitivities, you’ll want to keep shopping.

 

Pros: For those who aren’t serious pearl fans, faux is just as good as cultured. This multi-strand faux pearl necklace from Grace Jun is a fun approach for people obsessed with statement jewelry. You’ll get five rows of pearls in varying lengths and diameters. Better still, there are multiple colors available. And with a very wallet-friendly price, you can stock up if you prefer.

Cons: Some people may turn their nose up at the fact that these aren’t cultured pearls. Still, we did note that some shoppers were unhappy with the weight of this necklace. Unsurprisingly, five strands of pearls can be a lot of weight, so adjust your expectations.

Bottom Line: For those who want a statement necklace, this fun faux pearl necklace with five strands is a great way to make an entrance. While that might add a bit of weight, the fantastic price makes this a fun option for stocking up.

 

Pros: Are you the type who rarely wears jewelry? If so, the idea of a traditional string of pearls might seem like an unnecessary splurge, especially for cultured pearls. If you’re a true minimalist, this simple corded choker featuring a single cultured pearl that measures 11 to 11.5 millimeters in diameter might be a great alternative.

Cons: For better or worse, pearls are usually considered a statement gemstone that’s associated with money, class, and your position in society. When paired with this simple cord necklace, it might not make a lot of sense. Meanwhile, some people may be dismayed that the pearls—while cultured—have been bleached to look white.

Bottom Line: If you’re a minimalist or simply a fan of more functional jewelry, this simple corded choker with a single cultured pearl might be a hit.

 

Pros: If you’re just getting started with wearing pearls, it makes sense to opt for the classic string of pearls. This pick from The Pearl Source is exactly what you need. You’ll love that you can choose your necklace length as well as pearl diameter. Lengths range from 16 to 51 inches, and you can get diameters from 6.5 to 11 millimeters. And there’s a clasp with a double mechanism to prevent your necklace from coming undone unexpectedly.

Cons: In most cases, the only drawback with this necklace will be the price. It’s one of the most expensive options in our round-up because it’s offered by a trusted leader in pearls.

Bottom Line: If you’re shopping for a genuine pearl necklace, you can’t go wrong with this option from The Pearl Source. With a range of options regarding length and pearl diameter, it will work for a wide range of jewelry fans. Just be sure your wallet is prepared.

Final Thoughts

Even if you’re not a huge pearl fan, you know that a pearl necklace is a statement piece of jewelry designed to last. In many cases, along with being timeless, it can become a family heirloom that’s passed down between the generations. If you’re focused on longevity, then cultured pearls are your best bet. Meanwhile, if you simply like to be on-trend and incorporate pearls, faux pearls are a solid option. We have a selection of both to choose from.

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