Pearl Buying Guide: 6th Edition



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Pearls of Wisdom on how to evaluate pearls, spot fakes and detect dyed pearls. Included in this full-color guide are tips on pearl care, clasps, and creative ways to wear pearls. All types of pearls are discussed–Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea, Sea of Cortez, freshwater, abalone, scallop, conch, melo, quahog, giant clam, mabe, blister, keshi, natural, imitation, cultured.

Initially published in 1992, the Pearl Buying Guide was the first book to give consumers details on judging pearl quality and value. The 186 new color photos in this updated 6th edition show new types of pearls, clasps and jewelry styles. Current information has been provided on natural pearls, treatments, cultivation and identification techniques. 

     Although technical data is included to aid gemologists in detecting treatments and identifying pearls, the easy reading style and the 364 photos make this a customer-friendly book for both consumers and professionals, If you’re looking for an easy-to-read, illustrated and affordable pearl handbook that will help you select flattering pearls and spot fakes, the Pearl Buying Guide 6th Edition is the best choice available.

by Renée Newman

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ISBN 978-0-929975-52-8 / 6" x 9" (16.8 x 23 cm) / 153 pages

International Jewelry Publications  / $19.95 / Paperback

364 photos plus diagrams and tables


Changes in the NEW 6th Edition:

* 186 new photographs of pearls, pearl jewelry, neck pieces and pearl x-radiographs

* Updated information on pearl types, geographic sources and freshwater pearls
* Expanded chapter on natural pearls

* Expanded chapter on "Creating Unique Pearl Jewelry with Colored Gems." 

* New pearls and pearl jewelry styles 

Pearl quizzes in the previous editions are posted at


Newman’s updated edition (first published 25 years ago) brings clarity and wit to a challenging subject. As a “buying guide” of course this book focuses on what you need to know to safely buy pearls (or maybe just to admire them). The important price factors are treated in detail, with an entire chapter for each. These include luster and nacre thickness (nacre is the iridescent outer pearly coating), color, surface quality, and size and shape. The numerous types of pearls are covered in detail, including how they form and the many different oysters (and a few other mollusks) they come from.

     The difference between cultured and natural pearls is carefully explained (not that you can expect to encounter many of the latter: a 21-inch strand of natural pearls sold at Sotheby’s in 2014 for close to $3 million). Freshwater pearls, South Sea pearls, and black pearls each receive their own chapter. The critical subject of pearl color is well treated, including the important effects of lighting. Throughout the book numerous color photos illustrate every point.

     Of course any gem as valuable as pearls will invite imitations. There’s an entire chapter on how to detect them, armed with nothing more than your loupe. Another chapter shows versatile ways to wear pearls, and you’re almost certain to pick up some new ideas. There’s even a chapter on clasps. And since pearls are more delicate than most gems there are helpful hints on caring for them.

     This reviewer’s interest in pearls was sparked by the chance find, at a Chinese restaurant, of a small pearl in my Oyster and Ginger Soup. I soon realized how complex the subject of pearls can be. But Ms. Newman’s book takes away much of the mystery. If you plan to venture forth into the pearl marketplace your first purchase should be this book.

      Eric Hoffman, ASJRA Newsletter, Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts

After working in the gem and jewelry trade for over 25 years, I am happy to have Renee Newman's Pearl Buying Guide available. It is full of thorough, accurate and vital information on all aspects of the pearl market and trade breaking down the many varieties of pearls with information pertinent to the consumer at large, and the jewelry professional. Easy to read, full of illustrative photos - it is the real deal for understanding pearls as a consumer or a fine jewelry salesperson.
     Cynthia Marcusson, CEO, Cynthia Renée, Inc

"If you’re thinking of investing in pearls, invest $20 first in the "Pearl Buying Guide by Renée Newman. Even if you already own pearls, this book has good tips on care and great ideas on different ways to wear pearls."

    San Jose Mercury News

"With loads of photos to illustrate her points, Newman tells readers how to check a pearl’s luster, nacre, color, and flaws…a gem-dandy guide to picking right-price pearls."

    Boston Herald

"An interesting and easy-to-understand guide to buying, evaluating, selecting and caring for pearls and pearl jewelry. The opening chapters point out common mistakes made when buying pearls. Other chapters focus on evaluating pearl types and shapes, luster, nacre thickness, color, flaws, size, and make. Additional chapters cite differences in South Sea, black, and freshwater pearls as well as imitation, natural and cultured pearls. The closing chapters highlight the proper way to care for pearls as well as creative ways to wear them. The many photographs are valuable in illustrating the characteristics of and differences among pearls. Overall the guide is useful to all types of readers, from the professional jeweler to the average patron."

    Library Journal

Newman explains how to appraise and distinguish among all varieties of pearls. She takes potential buyers and collectors through the ins and outs of the pearl world, and her guide will best serve those looking to make a considerable investment. She explains why buyers might favor one pearl type over another and how to shop for pearls (e.g., examine the strands on a flat white surface, look at the light reflections on the pearls, etc.). A chapter on versatile ways to wear a strand of pearls offers looks reminiscent of 1920s flappers, Jackie Kennedy and Vegas showgirls. Newman also shares a brief, "unconventional" account of the pearl throughout history, written from the point of view of "The Pearl Family" ("we pearls regret the discomfort we cause to [oysters and mussels] when they are alive"). Quizzes in the back of the book will allow readers to test their knowledge, and copious color photographs enhance the workmanlike text.

     Publisher's Weekly

"Accurate, very down-to-earth and practical...The book should serve as a checklist of all the factors that should be considered in a significant pearl purchase: The pit-falls, valuation factors, chicaneries, anything that detracts from the value of all sorts of pearls from Japanese Akoya’s and South Sea giants to abalone "horns," freshwater wings and essence imitations...The book does what it sets out to do: 

it educates a buyer in need of education. The author has done a tremendous research job."

    Jewelers’ Circular Keystone

"An easily read, interesting, and helpful book on pearls...This book would be a good starting place for a jewellery clerk wanting to improve his or her salesmanship, and would even be a help for a graduate gemmologist seeking a better understanding of what to look for when examining or appraising a pearl necklace."

    The Canadian Gemmologist

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