Which Pearl Size is Right for You

The Bigger the Better? Which Pearl Size is Right for You?

“Pearls are always appropriate.” – Jackie Kennedy


Although they never went out of style, pearls are currently enjoying an increase in popularity.

But when it comes to choosing the right pearl, does size matter?

The answer is, of course it does!

But perhaps not in the way you think. Different sized pearls can alter the entire look of a piece, complement different styles, and suit different people. In fact, it is a lot more complicated than the bigger the better!

While there is no one-size-fits-all system, reading this guide will help you figure out which pearl size is perfect for you.


What are the Different Sizes?

Pearls come in a wide range of sizes, and there is no single agreed upon size grading system.

Generally speaking, Tahitian pearls are relatively large, starting at 8mm in diameter. The exception is Tahitian keshi pearls, that start as small as 1mm. Keshi pearls are most often in natural, baroque shapes.

Eight to 9mm Tahitian pearls are the most popular size and are the most common while 10mm grab more attention. While sizes can be found even over 20mm, in general anything over 12mm is rare. You’ll have to search far and wide to find anything over 15 or 16mm.


Age, Body Shape, and Style

It’s suggested that petite women should wear smaller pearls and those who are plus size should stick to the larger ones. But if these suggestions don’t suit you, forget about them. There are no real rules when it comes to pearls – the main rule is that you should wear the size of pearl that you like!

Think of Jackie Kennedy, a petite woman whose love of large pearl necklaces was iconic and constant throughout her life. And although older women can generally carry larger pearls easily, some mature women suit dainty little pearls beautifully. Large pearls on a younger woman can be a powerful fashion statement.

Although ultimately the decision is yours, it’s worth considering how it will fit in with your own general style and body shape.


What Piece of Jewelry are You Buying?

“ A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.” – Coco Chanel


The size of pearl you choose also hinges a lot on what piece of jewelry it is for.

When it comes to studs, 8 to 9mm are perfect for day to day on just about everyone. Pearls with a larger diameter can weigh the earlobe down on some people and may require special backs to make them sit straight (here’s a link to some with good reviews: https://levears.com/). And while traditional pearl studs sit in the middle of the earlobe, a wonderfully large, round Tahitian pearl hanging off the earlobe can be very beautiful. You’ll need medium to large lobes to carry off anything over 10mm!

For necklaces, you can basically go with any size you feel suits your style best. The smaller the pearl, the daintier and more delicate the necklace will look. The larger the pearl, the more striking the effect will be.

Larger pearls also have a more contemporary feel to the more traditional, smaller pearls. It’s often recommended that younger women go for smaller pearls, while older women choose ones on the larger end. Yet it’s really more to do with style. Smaller pearls convey a more feminine, understated and girlish look, while larger pearls are highly glamorous and perfect for people who want to command attention.

When it comes to rings, a pearl that’s smaller than 8mm will get swallowed up and be hard to see, unless it’s surrounded by a ring of smaller pearls or stones. In general, larger pearls work well on rings. Anything 10.5mm and above will be a statement piece.

You may also want to consider the size of your hand, as a too-small pearl can make a large hand look even larger, and a too-large pearl can make a petite hand look childlike. Again though, the best size for you depends on your own particular taste and style.



Of course, budget will also be a factor when choosing your pearl size.

All else being equal, the larger the pearl, the more expensive it will be. If you find a very large pearl at a low price, it’s more than likely fake. Due to the time it takes for pearls to culture, bigger pearls will almost always be pricier.

Luckily, when it comes to Tahitian pearls you’re already getting a large pearl at the low end of the size spectrum (8 to 9mm). Price goes up significantly over 10mm as the pearls themselves are more rare, especially in the higher grades.

Tahitian keshi pearls can be the best choice if you’re on a budget. These are generally around 4 to 8mm and their unusual shapes make for very unique jewelry with a young, bohemian flair to classic and dainty.


Your Choice

If you are already looking at Tahitian pearls, our guess is that dainty, girlish jewelry is not for you. Tahitian pearls generally range from 8-14mm, and their striking, gorgeously layered colors make for statement pieces that are still the height of elegance. Tahitian pearls are for the modern woman who wants a classic piece of jewelry with a twist. Although they are larger, there are still a wide range of sizes to choose from.

We hope this has helped you understand more about pearl sizes and to figure out what size is right for you. There are a few factors to keep in mind, but in the end, the choice is all yours!


-- Melony Forcier