Jewellery: a buyer's guide to pearls

Course Dates: 06/05/23
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: Keeley Street
Join this fascinating one-day course for a valuable insight into pearls, their cultivation and trade, and use in jewellery. Learn how to recognise the many types on the market, judge the good from the bad, spot the imitations and buy your pearl jewellery with confidence.
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Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £69.00 Concession £69.00

Course Code: VV660

Sat, day, 06 May - 06 May '23

Duration: 1 session

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This one-day course will give you a valuable insight into the trade and culturing of pearls, exploring the many different varieties of pearls available on the market including the natural and the man-made. The course will teach you to assess and select pearls, and recognise imitations. There will be many images and samples of pearls and pearl-set jewellery to view as well as practical exercises.

What will we cover?

The course will cover the farming, culturing and grading/pricing of saltwater, freshwater and rare natural pearls. The topics will include the common shapes, lustre, colours, sizes and treatments (such as dyeing) of these organic gems. You will learn how to use a loupe to inspect pearls, and discover how to appraise, value, care for and use pearls in jewellery. We will also look at the common pearl simulants found in jewellery.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- use a loupe to look at pearls
- understand how the pearl trade operates and the difference between cultured and natural, saltwater and freshwater pearls
- understand the grading and pricing of pearls and the certifying bodies
- demonstrate awareness of the different pearl simulants that are on the market
- understand how different types of pearl have been used in jewellery over the last century.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is at beginner’s level and no experience is necessary. It is ideal for people who have an interest in organic gemstones and pearl-set jewellery, and would be a good ‘refresher’ for people who work in the jewellery trade.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will take the form of a talk with many images and samples being shown to the students to illustrate the different topics. There will be plenty of time for students to ask questions. There will be detailed hand-outs for the students to take away. There is no work outside of the class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs, and you do not need to bring anything with you.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

City Lit offer a wide range of short and year-long courses in Jewellery design and making, from beginners to advanced, and for professional development.

Suitable follow-on courses may include:

VV826 - Jewellery making: all levels
VV342 - Jewellery: understanding rubies, sapphires and emeralds
VV738 - Appraising jewellery and gemstones

Your tutor will be able to advise you during the course.

Judith Crowe

Since 2003 Judith Crowe has been running 2 companies - as a gemstone dealer and for making bespoke jewellery. She has a BA Hons degree in Fine Art and from 1985 she worked as a studio manager/designer in graphic design. In 1990 she broke her back horse riding and then worked as a broadcast journalist and TV director at the BBC Disability Programmes Unit. From 1999 Judith retrained in silversmithing at City Lit and she is now teaching short courses on gemmology and jewellery at the college. She has written a book, 'The Jeweller's Directory of Gemstones', published by Quarto. Her website is

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.