I'm new to this forum and decided to join after constant Google research kept on returning me here! I have a couple of South Sea pearl pendants, mainly drop shapes and one round. I bought them from reputable jewellery stores in person.
How do you know the size of the pearl nuclei and is this important? At their 'fattest' point, my pearls range from about 10.5mm to around 15mm.
Is it a case of the bigger the pearl, the bigger the nuclei? Or was the pearl kept inside the oyster for a longer time before harvest?
Also, after reading horror stories of hollow/watery pearls with nuclei at the bottom, which shattered, should I be worried about this? My pearls seem heavy enough and are nice teardrop shapes. I bought them already made in jewellery.
Based on this info, you shouldn't worry that the nacre is too thin. Generally speaking, yes, the bigger the nucleus, the bigger the pearl. Also, I've dropped lots of pearls, and never had one shatter; pearls are pretty tough!
We do have a few forum members who could speak to what size beads are used.
South Sea Pearl Nuclei come in quite a range of sizes.
Mikey can explain that. The thickness variations of nacre are not only a result of the pearl remaining in the shell for a longer time.
Considder a family you know with four or five kids that have grown. The kids will be all different sizes and shapes even though they come from the same parents.
South Sea Pearls are just like that, every shell has different individual capabilities.
Each farmer has his or her sizes they start with.
Say you start with a nuclei of 8mm in a virgin shell. When harvested two years later the pearl should be 2 to 3 mm bigger. If it's a healthy pearl it will be replaced with a nuclei the same size as the pearl and the two years later 2 to 3 mm bigger again.
At best we get four pearls in the life of a South Sea Pearl Shell (Pinctada Maxima). If we get a forth pearl, its not usually a gem grade and more likely a lower grade as Pearl Shell like us humans do deteriorate with age.
What I've explained is the basic op's for South Sea Pearl Farming.
Bron and I are actually useing three year cycles. Stay tuned for results but don't wait up at night for them. This Gig takes time and we are both deteriorating.
Once again, welcome to the slow world of pearl growing.
Rusty & Bronwyn Tully
Torres Pearls Pty Ltd
It is really hard to tell you the size of the nucleus. You could get an xray or try the laser light trick. I think Rusty had as good an answer as you can expect. Generally, the larger the nucleus the larger the pearl. However, some oyster are more generous then others when laying down nacre, so there are no hard and fast answers. Like people, some are more tickled about their jobs then others. Some oysters are bored with the entire prospect. They don't really care much and will even reject the nuclei. Bad attitude. While others are so excited about the idea of making you a pearl they over do it and go all baroque. Others just spin the nuclei around for fun creating a circled pearl. I think it mostly depends on their mood and individual work ethic. (years of scientific research revealed here) I don't think I would worry too much about having a hollow SS pearl. Given the size and shape you describe they must have been very artistic oysters. Lucky you!
purveyor of pearls
Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
Mikkeyy..maybe pearl farmers should plan some sort of in house entertainment for the oysters - farmers play music to their cows after all. Perhaps you pearl farmers could experiment - a red nose and undersea juggling next time you are around a certain set of nets (you would have to keep careful records of which were entertained how)
I love to talk about oysters as though they were little critters, and they do provide their own entertainment- because they all "sing" together in a choir! But maybe they would like a soloist, once in a while, to teach them new tunes. The jugglers might do the trick, too, that is, inspire creativity.
Thanks everybody for your responses, and to R&B and Mikeyy for their human analogies!
R&B, when you talk about rolling a pearl around to check for no colour changes, meaning a good amount of nacre, do you mean I need to look for changes in the surface colour of the pearl? What is the difference between this and a pearl's overtone?