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  1. #1
    pierrettedE
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    Default Cultured Pearl Quality Standards of Japan

    howdy,

    I've just been wondering what exactly are the Cultured Pearl Quality Standards of Japan? Are they adopted by the JPEA only? Are they comprehensive and useful? Would it make sense to use these standards worldwide to help with grading cultured pearls? Do the standards only apply to Akoyas?

    Pierrette d'Entremont

    All I have form the 'tag system' is: (there have got to be more details.?.)

    Nacre Thickness
    All pearls will be inspected for thickness of nacre. Pearls with nacre so thin that the core nuclei can be seen through the nacre will be rejected.

    Luster and Clarity
    Pearls with low luster will be rejected. Pearls that are strongly permeated by calcite and organic matter, resulting in muddy gray, brown or blue colors, will be rejected.

    Surface Blemishes
    Pearls that exhibit excessive amounts of blemishes, such as bumps, pits and scratches, will be rejected.

    Nacre Damage
    Pearls that exhibit visible cracks in the nacre or on the nuclei will be rejected. Pearls that display any signs of nacre peeling or chipping will be rejected.

    Processing
    Pearls exhibiting signs of damage from bleaching or dyeing or which are judged to unstable in terms of permanency of appearance and quality, will be rejected. Pearls which display characteristics of uneven dye methods or over-dyeing resulting in excess dye residue on the surface of the pearl, will be rejected.
    Last edited by pierrettedE; 10-12-2005 at 10:24 PM. Reason: addition

  2. #2

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    These standards are for pearls that are exported out of Japan. It is actually a privatized quality check that is a continuation of the inspections that were done by the Japanese Government Inspection Office from 1952 to 1998. It does seem that the definitions that are presented by JPEA are a little vague but one thing they do not mention in there is that all pearls that are submitted are evaluated against a set of Master Pearls that are kept in their office in Kobe.
    Last edited by Pearls_by_Angela_Carol; 02-18-2006 at 10:52 PM.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    I think it is important to mention that even pearls we would consider to be of low quality can pass the JPEA. I have always thought of it as insurance for inexperienced buyers.
    Anyway, as the Chinese are now becoming the driving force in Akoya pearls, they should come up with a standard system and enforce it. As the term "Japanese Akoya Pearls" is no longer a honest definition of pearl origin, International standards should be set in place.
    http://www.pearl-guide.com/forum/sho...=1252#post1252
    Last edited by jshepherd; 10-18-2005 at 11:19 PM.

  4. #4

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    I believe that it is also important to differentiate this "quality standard" from actual pearl grading. This is in no way meant to be a grading system. Just as the French Polynesian Government has quality standards to make sure that the Tahitian Pearls that are exported from that area meet a minimum standard, this "Quality Standard" is meant to serve the same purpose for pearls exported from Japan.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Except that it is required for export in Tahiti - not in Japan. If this were a required step I think it would make a larger difference. I have never thought the additional expenditure was worthwhile - we let our quality speak for itself.

  6. #6
    Kenji
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    Sometime it is the guarantee for the consumer but mostly for the buyer. Remember that most buyers only buy a few pieces and do not know pearls very well. These buyers want to make sure that the pearls are good and so that they can sell them well when they take them home.
    In response to the private message that Carrie sent to me; No, the certification does not mean they are Japanese pearls. So to say "certified Japanese pearls" is incorrect. They are only certifying the quality. It is not possible to certify Japanese or Chinese because the pearls are the same.

  7. #7
    pierrettedE
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    hello Jeremy, Kenji, Angela,

    I appreciate your responses greatly. Pearl quality (and grading) standards are obviously still a subject of great debate and, i think, increasing customer concern. Moreover, as a bench jeweller with a special interest in cultured pearls, I am finding it increasingly frustrating to educate the number of confused and unhappy customers that I serve.

    In my little part of the world, the Canadian Maritimes, pearls that are of Pearlparadise quality (i'm using your products because they are the most familiar to me, aside from Mikimoto and that's a farther stretch) are completely unheard of.

    More often than not, I get mature women coming in with a yellow strand of commercial quality akoyas that they want admired and appraised. These are often new, bought for $300-$700 at one of our many local chain stores and are gifts from their husbands. I just can't give appraisals any more. Often they are older stock that haven't been turned over in a while... That just doesn't happen with most other fine jewelry pieces.

    The lack of a proper, even basic grading system seems to be hurting many end consumers. Many of these people are buying from "trusted" sources and just will not buy online or travel 500 miles to buy a nice strand of pearls. In fact, the large majority of these people are not aware that they are being ripped off [I'm even using that term loosely because many mom-and-pop jewelry stores are still in 70s and are also uneducated about pearls].

    I think that somehow, some way, some one is going to have to get international commitees together and come up with at least basic quality grading systems for cultured pearls. Freshwater, Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian. Phew, not a small task! A truck-load of master boards? Maybe some sort of ipod halogram program ;/

    Pierrette

  8. #8
    purepearls
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    Pierrette,
    You hit the nail on the head! I agree that there needs to be a universal grading standard. Many customers do not know high quality from low quality pearls and have no clue what they are buying. This is why I think it is so important for customers to educate themselves when buying fine jewelry. All too often, jewelers are not familiar with today's pearls and are unable to offer accurate information about the pearls consumers are asking about. Until a universal standard is created (don't hold your breath), it's up to us to educate the consumers!