Pearl Buying Guide Quizzes

Below are quizzes on some of the chapters in the Pearl Buying Guide 5th Edition. The answers are at the bottom, after the sets of chapter questions.

Chapters 1-4 / Curious Facts, Types, Shapes, Price Factors

Chapter 5 / Luster & Nacre Thickness

Chapter 6 / Judging Color

Chapter 7 / Pearl Surface Quality

Chapters 8, 9 & 10 / Size, Length, Matching, & South Sea Pearls

Chapters 11& 13 / Black Pearls & Treatments

Chapter 12 / Freshwater Pearls

Chapter 14 / Imitation Pearls

Chapter 15 / Natural Pearls

Chapter 20 / Pearl Care


Quiz on Chapters 1- 4 of the 5th Edition

Select the correct answer:

1. A mother-of-pearl bead is:

  a. as valuable as a pearl

  b. less valuable than a pearl

  c. more valuable than a pearl

  d. another name for a pearl


2. Which of the following types of pearls is most likely to be round?

  a. A cultured South Sea pearl

  b. A natural South Sea pearl

  c. An Akoya pearl with very thin nacre

  d. An Akoya pearl with very thick nacre

  c. iridescence


3. Mikimoto pearls:

 a.    a. come from a special kind of oyster trademarked by the Mikimoto company.

 b.    b. have more flaws than most pearls.

 c.   c. come in a range of qualities.

  d. are natural pearls.  


 4.  Baroque pearls:

a.  originate from Europe.

b.  have irregular shapes.

c.  are freshwater pearls.

d.  are those set in ornate mountings.


5.  Mabe assembled pearls may come from:

a.  The mabe oyster

b.  The white South Sea pearl (silver-lip) oyster

c.  The black pearl (black-lip) oyster

d.  All of the above


6.   Semi-cultured pearls:

a.   are imitation pearls.

  b.   are half natural and half cultured.

  c.   have a cultivation period which is half as long as that of a cultured pearl.

  d.   grow in oysters which are bred in a laboratory.


7.     7.  High-quality keshi pearls are noted for their:

a.     a.  high luster

  b.  unique shapes

  c.  iridescence

  d.  all of the above

True or false?

8.      8. When judging prices, consumers should try to compare pearls of the same shape and type.

   9. Cultured pearls are imitation pearls grown by man in an oyster.

10.   10. A pearl must be round to be valuable.

11.   11. Freshwater pearls are those which are cultivated in non-polluted waters.

12.   12. Valuable natural pearls have been found in North, South, and Central America .

13.   13. Cultured round pearls were first produced and marketed in the early 1900's.

14.   14. Natural pearls are produced by implanting shell beads in oysters which breed naturally.

15.   15. Nacre is the pearly substance secreted around an irritant by an oyster or mussel.

16.   16. Name at least 8 pearl price factors.


Go to Answers for Chapters 1-4


Chapter 5 Quiz / Pearl Luster and Nacre Thickness

1.   1. A jeweler says his pearls are AAA quality. You should conclude:

a. The pearls are of high quality.

b. The pearls may be of any quality.

c. The pearls are not graded properly because the highest possible grade is A+.

d.   d. The pearls have a high luster. Quality factors such as shape and color also need to be indicated.


2.   2. A large percentage of the Akoya pearls sold today:

a. have a very high luster.

b.   b. have thick or very thick nacre.

c. have thin or very thin nacre.

d. none of the above.


3.   3. You have a written appraisal that states your pearl necklace has very thick nacre. You should assume:

a. Your pearls have a nacre thickness of exactly .5 mm or more on all the pearls

b. Your pearls have a nacre thickness of approximately .5 mm or more on all pearls.

c.   c. Your pearls have a nacre thickness of approximately .5 mm or more on most pearls of the strand

d.   d. Nothing if the appraiser has not defined his/her nacre-thickness grades somewhere on the appraisal.


4.   4. Which type of lighting will make pearls look the most lustrous?

a. a bare 100-watt light bulb

b. candlelight

c. daylight on a rainy day

d. a fluorescent light covered with a translucent plastic shade


True or False?

 5. Today, cultured pearls tend to have thicker nacre than they did in the 1950's.

 6. When the judging luster of a strand, you should roll the pearls slightly on a flat, white surface.

 7. If a cultured pearl is left in an Akoya oyster for at least three years, it will have a high luster.

8. Pearls with very low luster are easy to spot because they look more like white beads than pearls.

9. There’s no point in paying $25 for a loupe when you can find brand new ones for $10.

10. If a pearl has thick nacre, it will have a high luster.


Go to Chapter 5 Answers


Chapter 6 Quiz / Pearl Color                                       Top of page   

Select the correct answer

1.   Which of the following body colors are priced the highest for an Akoya pearl?

a.   gold and silver

b.   white and light pink

c.   cream and gray

d.   cream and champagne


2.   Which of the following overtone colors is usually the most valued on an Akoya pearl?

a.   green

b.   silver

c.   gold

d.   pink


3.   3. You look in a drill hole of pearl and you see a dark pink line between the nacre and the bead nucleus, this means:

a.   a. The pearl comes from the pink-lip oyster.

b.   b. Nothing in particular. It’s an inherent characteristic of pearls with pink overtones.

c.   c. The pearl has been dyed.


4.   When judging the color of pearls, you should examine them:

a.   on a black background.

b.   on a white background.

c.   on a background the same color as their body color.

d.   hanging in the air.


5.   Which of the following can affect your perception of pearl color?

a.   a. The color of the room you are in

b. The lighting

c.   c. Alcoholic beverages

d. All of the above


Go to Chapter 6 Answers


Chapter 7 Quiz / Pearl Surface Quality

1    Which of the following is the least serious?

a.   missing nacre

b.   a crack

c.   a scratch

d.   a large discoloration


2.   Which of the following can affect the way you grade the flaws on a strand of pearls?

a.   The background the pearls are viewed against

b.   The lighting

c.   Your eyesight

d.   All of the above


3.   Which is the least serious?

a.   A bump next to a drill hole

b.   A visible discoloration on a single pearl

c.   A group of welts

d.   A cracked bead nucleus


4.   4. Flaws:

a.   Can help you prove that your pearls are real and not imitation.

b.   Can lower the price of pearls without affecting their overall beauty.

c.   Can help you distinguish your pearls from those of someone else.

d.   All of the above.


True or False?


5. When checking for blemishes on a strand, you should roll the pearls in order to see their entire surface.

6. The longer a pearl is in an oyster, the more likely it is to have flaws.

7.   7. The term “pearl blemish” only refers to flaws that are on the surface of a pearl.

8. Pearls with flaws are defective.  

9.   9. Pearls should never be examined under magnification.


Go to Chapter 7 Answers


Chapters 8, 9 and 10 Quizzes / Size, Length, Matching & South Sea Pearls

1. Which would be the hardest to match?

a.   a.  Dyed Akoya pearls with very thick nacre

b.  Dyed Akoya pearls with thin nacre

c.  Non-dyed Akoya pearls with very thick nacre

d.  Non-dyed Akoya pearls with thin nacre


2.   2. Which would be the easiest to match?

a.  9 to 9 1/2 mm Akoya pearls

b.  9 to 9 1/2 mm South Sea pearls

c.  6 to 6 1/2 mm Akoya pearls

d.  A graduated strand of South Sea pearls


3.   3. Which of the following necklace lengths is shortest?

a.  Opera

b.  Matinee

c.  Princess

d.  Rope


4.   4. Larger pearls can be cultivated in the South Seas than in Japan because:

a.  the oysters in the South Seas are exposed to more sunlight.

b.  South Sea oysters are larger than the Japanese Akoya type.

c.  there are so many tropical fish for South Sea oysters to feed on.

d.  none of the above


5.   5. Which country has produced the most South Sea pearls and mother of pearl?

a. Burma

b. Australia

c. Japan

d. The Philippines


6.   6. Which of these units of weight is heaviest?

a. 1 carat

b. 1 gram

c. 1 ounce avoirdupois

d. 1 pearl grain

e.   1 momme


7.  Which of the following weighs the least?

a.  1 carat

b.  1 gram

c.  1 ounce avoirdupois

d.  1 pearl grain

e.  1 momme


True or False?

 8.  It’s easier to match natural pearls than cultured pearls.                                                          

 9.  Mabe assembled pearls cost a lot less than South Sea pearls.

10. 10  There’s a regular rise in price as pearl size increases.

11. 11. Two matched pearls can cost a lot more than two unmatched ones.

12. 12. Since South Sea pearls are so big, there’s no need to be concerned about the thickness of their nacre.

13. The effect of size on price can vary from dealer to another.


Go to Answers for Chapters 8, 9 & 10


Quiz (Chapters 11 and 13 / Black Pearls & Treatments)            Top of page   

1.   1  Which of the following is more valued on black pearls?

a.   brown overtones

b.   green overtones

c.   gray overtones

d.   no overtones


2.   Which of the following is not used to darken the color of pearls?

a.   Irradiation

b.   Silver salt treatment

c.   Ultrasound

d.   Colored dyes


3.   The size of most natural-color black pearls is usually:

a.   less than 9 mm.

b.   between 9 and 12 mm                                                                                 

c.   between 11 and 15 mm

d.   greater than 11.5 mm


4.   A dyed-black pearl may have originally been:

a.   an off-color Akoya pearl.

b.   a light-color pearl from a black-lip oyster.

c.   an off-color pearl from an Australian silver-lip oyster.

d.   any of the above.


5.   Which of the following shapes is the least expensive for a black pearl?            

a.   round

b.   pear-shape

c.   circled

d.   oval


6.   Today most natural-color black pearls are cultivated in:

a.   Japan

b.   Baja California         

c.   French Polynesia  ( Tahiti )

d.   Australia


7.   The term “black pearl” is used by jewelry salespeople to refer to:

a.   natural-color black pearls from the black-lip oyster

b.   "blue pearls"

c.   dyed Akoya pearls

d.   all of the above


True or False?

 8.   Most black pearls are very round.

9.   Gray pearls are not considered to be black pearls.

10.  Some cultured black pearls have an inadequate nacre coating.

11.  If a pearl is black and over 11 mm in size, its color is natural.

12.  Ring-like formations are often seen on Tahitian black pearls.

13. The most reliable way of determining if the color of a black pearl is natural is to have it x-rayed by a gem lab.

14. The color of “blue pearls” is stable.

15.  There is no standardized system for classifying or valuing the color of black pearls.


Go to Answers for Chapter 11 and 13 of the 5th Edition of the Pearl Buying Guide


Chapter 12 Quiz / Freshwater Pearls

1. Most cultured freshwater pearls come from:

a. Japan

b. Korea

c.   c. China

d. USA


2. Most freshwater pearls are:

a.   a,  round

b.  circled

c.  oval

d.  baroque


3.   3. The general term for any pearl cultivated in a lake, pond or river area is:

a. tissue-nucleated pearl.

b.   b. natural sweetwater pearl

c. freshwater cultured pearl

d. b and c


4. What factor affects the price of freshwater pearls the least?

a. luster

b.   b. surface quality

c. size

d. body color


5.   5.  What determines the shape of a pearl?

a.  The type of nucleus inserted in the mollusk.

b.  The position of the nucleus in the mollusk.

c.  The length of time the pearl is in the mollusk.

d.  All of the above.


True or False?

6.   6.  There is a wide difference of opinion as to what is the best color for a freshwater pearl.

7.   7.  The price of freshwater pearls is often quoted according to their weight in grams.

8.  Iridescence and overtone colors are desirable characteristics for freshwater pearls.

9.   9.  High-quality freshwater pearls tend to cost more than high-quality saltwater pearls.


Go to Chapter 12 Answers      


Chapter 14 Quiz / Imitation Pearls  

1.   1.  A strand feels light in weight. There’s a good chance it consists of:

a.   a.  Cultured pearls with thin nacre

b.  Natural pearls

c.  Plastic imitation pearls

d.  Solid glass imitation pearls


2.   2.  Which of the following tests can prove that your pearls are not imitations?

a.   a.  The tooth test.

b.   b.  The surface magnification test

c.   c.  The overtone test

d.   d.  All of the above


3.   3.  Which is a typical characteristic of the drill holes of imitation pearls?

a.  a clear dividing line between the coating and the core of the “pearl.”

b.  a straight hole with well defined edges

c.  a thick coating of lacquer, paint, or pearl essence.

d.  none of the above


4.   4.  Which of the following is an imitation pearl?

a.  A semi-cultured pearl

b.  A Majorica pearl

c.  A faux pearl

d.  b and c

e.  a, b, and c


5.   5.  Under 10-power magnification the surface of an imitation pearl tends to:

a.  look grainy

b.   b.  show scaly maze-like patterns

c.   c.  appear striped

d.  none of the above


6.   6.  If a jeweler can't tell that the pearls you are wearing are imitation or not this means:

a.  He's a lousy jeweler.

b.  He needs to read the Pearl Buying Guide.

c.  He must have poor eyesight.

d.   d.  All of the above

e.  None of the above.


Go to Chapter 14 Answers                                                                         


Chapter 15 Quiz / Natural Pearls                                               Top of page

1.   1.  As you rotate a strand of “pearls” under a light, they blink and/or show faint stripes. This indicates the “pearls” are:

a.   imitation      a.  imitation

b.  cultured

c.   c.  natural

d.  Imitation or cultured


2.   2.  You are examining a “pearl.”  Its drill hole looks ragged and some of the coating has peeled off around it. This means the “pearl” is:

a.   imitation.                             a.  imitation

b.  cultured

c.  either imitation or cultured

d.  either cultured or natural


3.   3.  Which of the following can help a gemologist distinguish between natural and cultured pearls?

      a.  An X-ray test

a.   An X-ray test                                    b.  A refractometer test

 c.  A hardness test

d.    d.  All of the above


4.   4.  Natural pearls:

a.  tend to be very round

b.  tend to have greenish overtones

c.  tend to have smaller drill holes than cultured pearls and imitations.

d.  None of the above.


5.   5.  An appraiser tells you your pearls must be sent to another lab for an x-ray in order to determine if they are natural. The appraiser:

a.  is not very competent.

b.  has a poorly equipped lab.

c.  is trying to make extra money on unnecessary lab tests.

d.  is correct, and this does not mean that he/she is a poor appraiser.


True or False?

6.  If an antique pearl piece was made before 1900, the pearls in it are natural.

7.  Most cultured pearls tend to be slightly heavier than natural pearls.

8.  Natural pearls tend to have irregular shapes.

9.  The nacre of cultured pearls has a different chemical composition than that of natural pearls.

10. If a pearl does not blink to show stripes when it is rotated under an overhead light, then it is not cultured.


Go to Chapter 15 Answers   


Chapter 20 Quiz / Pearl Care                                          Top of page      


True or False?

1. The best way to clean pearls is to put them in an ultrasonic cleaner.

2. You should take your pearls off when you shower or go swimming.

3. Decorative gold beads strung between pearls never damage or discolor the pearls.

4. The pearl is an ideal gem for an every-day wedding ring.

5. You should put on make-up and perfume before you put on your pearls.

6. Pearls should not be worn when their string is wet.

7. It doesn’t matter if hair spray gets on your pearls because the lacquer makes them more lustrous and serves as a protective coating.

8. After wearing pearls, it's a good idea to wipe them off with a chamois.


Go to answers to Chapter 20 Quiz on Pearl Care


Answers for Chapters 1-4:

1.   1.  b

2.   2.  c

3.   3.  c

4.   4.  b

5.   5.  d

6.   6.  a

7    7.  d

8.  T

9.  F   They are not imitation pearls.

10. 10. F

11. 11. F

     12. T

     13. T

     14. F

     15. T

     16. Luster, surface quality, shape, color, size, nacre thickness/quality, treatment status, matching and pearl type. There can be a huge difference in price between a natural and cultured pearl. Saltwater pearls normally cost more than freshwater pearls; whole pearls cost more than blister and mabe pearls of the same quality. Among natural pearls, rarity of the mollusk species can be a key price factor.


Chapter 5 Quiz Answers / Pearl Luster

1.   b    1. b There’s no standardized pearl grading system, so a jeweler can assign whatever meaning he wants to a grade. Even standardized grades such as those for diamonds are misused and inflated by some salespeople. Therefore it’s best to base your judgment of a gem on what it looks like rather than on a grade assigned to it.

2.   2. c

3.   d    3. d The grading of nacre thickness is not standardized. “Very thick nacre” can have a variety of meanings depending on which appraiser or jeweler is using the term.

4. a

5. F

6. T

7.   F    7. Not necessarily. Improper cultivation techniques, disease, and pollution are a few of the factors that can lower the luster of a pearl even though it is left in an Akoya oyster for a long period of time.

8. T

9.   F    9. F A $10 loupe will generally distort what it magnifies. A 10-power, fully corrected loupe is an ideal gem magnifier. Unfortunately, it will normally cost more than $10 brand new.

10.  F  10. F Not necessarily. South Sea pearls usually have thicker nacre than Akoya pearls, yet their luster tends to be lower. The quality of the nacre is just as important as its thickness. A pearl with very thick nacre can have a very low luster.


Chapter 6 Answers / Judging Color

1. b

2.   2. d

3.   3. c

4.   4. b

5.   5. d


Chapter 7 Answers / Pearl Surface Quality

1. c

2. d

3. a

4. d.

5.   5. T

6. T

7.   F    7. F. It can also refer to internal flaws such as cracked nuclei and flaws that extend below the surface such as holes and missing nacre.  The term “surface characteristic” can also mean internal flaw when it is applied to pearls.

8.   F    8. F It’s normal for pearls to have flaws.

9.   F    9. F Even though pearl flaws are graded without magnification, a magnifier can help you compensate for poor lighting or poor eyesight. Also, knowing what pearl flaws look like under magnification can help you determine if “pearls” are imitation or not. Magnification is very helpful for detecting treatments and imitations.


Answers for Chapters 8, 9 & 10                                                    Top of page             

1.    1. c

 2. c

 3. c

4.    4. b

 5. b

 6. c

 7. d

 8. F   It’s a lot harder to match natural pearls.

 9. T

10. F    10. F  Price jumps tend to be uneven.

11. T

12. F

13. T


Answers for Chapter 11 and 13 / Black Pearl & Treatments

1.  b

2.  c

3.  b

4.   d    4.  d. But if it's less than 8 mm, it was probably an off-color Akoya pearl.

5.  c

6.  c

7.   d     7. d    Even though this book mainly uses the term “black pearl” to refer to natural-color pearls from the black-lip oyster, you should be aware that some people in the trade also use it to refer to any dark colored pearl, even “blue pearls” and dyed pearls.  Therefore, always ask salespeople to specify what they mean by “black pearl.”

8.   F

9.   F Most black pearls are gray, not black.

10. T

11.  F   11. F  Large pearls from the black-lip and silver-lip oysters are also dyed.

12. 12. T

13. 13. T

14.  F   14. F  Due to their organic pigmentation, “blue pearls” can lose color or decay if holes are drilled through them.  (See page 22 of Pearls by Shohei Shirai and the other references cited in the first section of this chapter.)

15.  15. T


Answers to Chapter 12 Quiz / Freshwater Pearls         

1.  c

2.  d

3.   c    3.  c  Sweetwater pearl is another term for freshwater pearl, but if a pearl is cultivated in a pearl farm, it’s not natural; it’s cultured.

4.   4.  d

5.  d.

6.  T

7.   7.  T

8.   8.  T

9.   9.  F   Freshwater pearls tend to cost less.


Answers to Chapter 14 Quiz on Imitation Pearls

1.   1. c

2.   b    2. b  The results of the tooth and overtone tests are good indications but they don’t provide positive proof. Some imitations feel gritty to the teeth and have overtones that vary. Thin-nacre pearls may have no overtones, and polished pearls may give a smooth tooth-test reaction.

            3. d  The coating on imitation pearls tends to be very thin, not thick.

4.   e    4. c   Majorica, faux, and semi-cultured pearls are all imitations.

5.   5. a

6.   e    6. e Even pearl specialists can be fooled by imitations, particularly when viewing pearls from a distance. In some cases, they may need to examine the pearls under magnification to determine that they are imitation.


Answers to Chapter 15 Quiz / Natural Pearls

1.   d    1. d. Imitation pearls with shell cores and translucent coatings can show stripes like those of thin-nacre cultured pearls.

2.   c.   2. c. The coating can peel off of both imitation and cultured pearls leaving their core exposed.

3. a

4. c

5. d

6.   F    6. F  When natural pearls fall out of antique pieces, they are often replaced with cultured pearls or imitations.

            7. T

7.   T    8. T

9.   9. F

10.  F   10. Cultured pearls with thick nacre or with no shell nucleus normally don't blink or show stripes. Not all cultured pearls with thin nacre display the blinking or striped effect.


Answers to Chapter 20 Quiz / Pearl Care

1. F    Pearls should never be placed in ultrasonic cleaners.


2. T,   3. F,   4. F,   5. T,    6. T,   7.  F,   8.  T  


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