Keshi Pearls Defined
A keshi pearl is a non-beaded pearl formed by accident as a by-product of a pearl culturing operation.
How Keshi Pearls Are Formed
Keshi pearls are formed when the oyster rejects and spits out the implanted nucleus before the culturing process is complete, or the implanted mantle tissue fractures and forms separate pearl sacs without nuclei. These pearl sacs eventually produce pearls without a nucleus.
Very fine Tahitian keshi pearls, courtesy of PearlParadise.com.
Keshi Pearls Can Be Salt Or Freshwater
Keshi may form in either saltwater or freshwater pearls. They are generally small in size and, because there was no nucleus to guide the ultimate shaping of the pearl, their shapes vary widely. Keshi come in a wide variety of colors, and tend to have high luster and even rare orient. This is due to their solid-nacre composition.
Keshi Pearls Are Known For Their Luster
Because the oyster has expelled the implanted nucleus of the pearl, the resulting keshi pearl is 100% nacre. This gives it an especially lustrous and shimmering surface quality. Most keshi, in fact, have a greater luster than even the highest quality cultured pearls.
Freshwater keshi pearls exhibiting very fine luster, courtesy of PearlsofJoy.com.
Keshi Pearls Are Not Considered Natural Pearls
The fact that keshi pearls are solid nacre does not, however, give them the classification of natural pearls. This is because keshi are a bi-product of the culturing process, and not a natural occurrence.
Keshi Pearls Are Now A Very Rare Find
Keshi pearls, especially Tahitian and South Sea keshis, were once quite the bargain, yet beautiful and unique pieces. Today, Keshi pearls are much more rare. This is because Tahitian and South Sea pearl farms are now x-raying oysters to determine whether or not the nucleus has been expelled. When a nucleus-free oyster is found they are then re-nucleated before a keshi has time to form. This practice has made keshi pearls much more of a rare find than they once used to be. The word keshi means "poppy seed" in Japanese, and these pearls are often also referred to as "poppy seed pearls."
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