View Full Version : Pearl ID
01-17-2010, 11:39 AM
I was handed a strand of pearls yesterday and asked to ID them. I only had a few minutes, and no loupe with me.
This strand was purchased in Greece (I think) for about $1200 usd, and sold to the consumer as Tahitian black pearls.
100% these are not natural color black pearls. They are the color of irradiated CFW's. But what is throwing me off is their shape, they are very round, very symmetrical, with a very clean surface.
I am certain these are an organic matter, not Mallocans etc. I'm beginning to suspect these are irradiated shell beads.
I have seen shell beads made to immitate south sea goldens, but have never seen them processed to immitate black pearls or irradiated CFWs.
So that's my question to y'all, has anyone seen this before?
01-17-2010, 02:00 PM
I am not sure what you meant by shell beads. I have seen shell pearls imitated to be Tahitian black pearls sold at farmer's market on Kauai. Vendor told me they are shell pearls. Although the strand was a pastel one, not the dark multicolor imitation. They are much lighter in weight than cultured pearls though.
01-17-2010, 02:28 PM
By shell beads I mean mother of pearl shell cut and drilled. Could be the same as the shell pearls you mentioned. However, these had heft, they had the weight of pearls.
9mm, very round, very clean. It just doesn't make sense to take a clean CFW and irradiate it. While turning them over in the sunlight, I could see what appears to be 'banding' beneath the color surface. Similar to the banding seen in MOP.
Thanks for your input.
01-17-2010, 11:52 PM
I'm curious, as we have had discussions here about ways to handle situations like this, what did you say? Were you able to suggest an appointment so you could get a better look at the "pearls"?
01-18-2010, 02:54 PM
This couple was quite earnest in their request for my opinion. You could see it in their eyes, they knew something wasn't quite right about the necklace. So I felt I had an obligation to be straight with them, and I was.
It wasn't an easy conversation to have, but a necessary one. I showed them the strands of Tahitians that I had, and explained color and luster and how to tell the difference.
It was so obvious that these were not a natural colored black pearl, and I still feel terrible for them - they were ripped off, and this damages all our reputations. But I guess I handled that well, as they came back the next day and made a large purchase.
When asked, I tell. If I'm not asked, I don't tell. Example: "I just bought these in an antique shop, can you tell me if they're real pearls" When asked like this, I'll tell them. But if someone says "I just got these, and love them, what do you think?" Then I'll say "How nice, good for you" and leave it at that. I try to gauge what they're really asking.
If someone asks me what I think their pearls are worth, then I'll suggest an appraisal appointment, and tell them how much that would cost and what's involved. Just a way to weed out those who want affirmation on their purchase, and those who really want an appraisal.
How do you handle such delicate questions?
01-18-2010, 03:59 PM
Isn't 'tahitian black pearls' a favourite description on ebay for dyed to look like black tahitians so the description isnt black pearls from tahiti it is tahitian-black-coloured pearls
01-18-2010, 09:04 PM
That is standard ebay language. Tahitian Black is the color they are dyed. It has fooled thousands.
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