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  1. #1

    Default Golden South Sea pearl - rough surface, has this pearl been treated?

    Hi fellow pearl lovers,

    First time poster on this forum, but I have been reading heavily for awhile. I am already a big fan of Tahitians, and am now starting my love affair with GSS.

    I recently purchased some 10mm round GSS diamond stud earrings from a new-to-me vendor, who seemed to be reputable. The pearls were sold as natural and untreated.

    In inspecting the pearls, I noticed that one of them felt a bit rough. Via loupe inspection, I can see some type of artifact on the surface of the entire pearl. It appears almost scaly, or possibly like many tiny flattened bubbles.

    Is it some kind of coating? Or can this occur naturally? My guess is the former, but I'd appreciate more expert opinions.

    I am still in the return period. Natural / untreated is important to me.

    Appreciate any feedback...

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    That looks like treatment, not a coating. I've not heard of coated gold South Seas, but that pearls looks treated.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Did you receive a certificate with them that stated they were natural color and not treated in any way?

  4. #4
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    That is fascinating.

    I'm curious, do you see this when you look at the pearl with a 10x loupe? I'm not sure what magnification this photo is.

    I've looked at my GSS with a loupe and don't see any formations quite like those, although there are other surface irregularities. Are those just in that spot or do you see more of them on the pearls?

    Edit: Just saw Jeremy's post. He's the expert.

  5. #5

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    Thanks Jeremy and Pearl Dreams.

    Jeremy - Any guesses on what the treatment would be for? Color? No, there was no certificate, but the sale info says natural and untreated.

    Pearl Dreams - The effect is all over that entire pearl (but seemingly not on the other). BTW, I did not see it on the first loupe attempt. It seems to be right on the very surface so I had loupe in and out a bit before I saw it. The photo I shared is taken with my smart phone through the loupe. It was a tricky shot to take!

    I am going to return the earrings. I will let the vendor know what I've found.

    - IHP

  6. #6
    Pearl Journalist Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert GemGeek's Avatar
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    Excellent photo. Even on my cell phone I can see the formations clearly. WelcomE to Pearl Guide.
    GemGeek
    The World Is My Oyster!

  7. #7
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Returning sounds like a good idea.

  8. #8
    Second-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member perlas's Avatar
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    I've seen that look before but chipped on some areas. Looks like coating to me, IMO, with areas that have seem to have "bubbled up". Never seen coating in South Seas though but have seen them in freshwater pearls. The damaged coating I saw has the same look as that in your photo.

    This site discusses lacquer and polymer coating used to treat pearls.

    http://www.jewellerytechnology.com/e..._on_Pearls.php
    ______Perlas
    o-o-o E Unio Plurum o-o-o

  9. #9

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    Thanks Perlas! Very interesting site.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    I can't tell from a single pearl if it has been color treated, but it looks like a chemical heat treatment to me.

  11. #11
    Second-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member kalmen22's Avatar
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    Curious why would one use chemical heat treatment? What does it do?

  12. #12
    Second-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member kalmen22's Avatar
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    Just read the link Pearlas provided. There is a heat and cool treatment mentioned. Would that be the heat treatment?

  13. #13

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    Side question - is it correct to assume that the trusted vendors (eg: PearlParadise, PurePearls, POJ, etc) sell only untreated GSS pearls? I see that these vendors' websites mention selling only GSS pearls with natural color, but I'm not clear if that also means free of all other types of treatment (?)

    Sorry if this is already discussed elsewhere, I did not find it.

    - IHP

  14. #14
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    My understanding is that GSS do not need any treatments (unlike akoya and freshwater pearls) and that they just need to be cleaned to remove organic matter from the oysters they are harvested from. This is what I would expect from any reputable vendor.

    On Pearl Paradise's education page about GSS there is this information:

    "Golden South Sea pearls are among the largest, most valuable pearls produced today. They are grown in the gold-lip variety of the Pinctada maxima, South Sea pearl oyster. Their warm, golden tones are completely natural, and no treatments are needed to enjoy the beauty of these luxurious gems."
    https://www.pearlparadise.com/pages/...ea-information

    I have not read all the information pages of the other vendors but would expect the same quality of them-- natural GSS colors, no coatings.

    I've also seen the specific statement on Tahitianpearls.biz that their GSS colors are natural.

    I don't know about other vendors.

  15. #15

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    If we assume that the pearl in my photo *is* in fact treated, it may not be for color. According to the helpful site posted by perlas, it may be a treatment to enhance luster (which can involve chemicals and/or heat). I'm not sure. According to that article, such treatments can make the nacre more brittle.

    In any case, I only want GSS pearls that are untreated.

    I am returning the earrings, and the vendor is being very professional about it. So far so good.

    Definitely I'm learning a ton from this experience, and I'm very glad I have a loupe at home! I'm more confident about making my next GSS purchase and knowing what to look out for. So glad to have found this forum!

    - IHP

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