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  1. #1

    Default Inherited Opera Length Pearl Necklace from Japan

    My mother had a "wealthy" great uncle who gave this opera length pearl necklace to her decades ago. I was told it was very valuable because it was natural not cultured but I have no idea if that is true. I have the original box and case which inside has some Japanese characters (but I don't read Japanese so I do not know what it says) although the box itself says "WAKO" in gold. I hesitate to send it to anyone to have appraised and or x-rayed without some
    inkling if it warrants doing so. I'm not trying to sell it but if it is really valuable I would like to know for personal and perhaps insurance reasons. Does anyone have any idea of what it may be worth and if I really should get it appraised?
    It measures 48 inches long and has a keeper as well as the clasp. Any insight is greatly appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    I cannot offer any expertise, but I can comment on the beautiful setting for the clasp and "keeper"...they are gorgeous. Is the metal stamped with a makers mark or a metal mark?

  3. #3
    Inactive Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Normally, I don't comment on cultured pearls unless they're questioned as natural.

    These do not present as natural.

    Wako is a high-end department store in the Ginza District of Tokyo.

    A division of Seiko, they started selling cultured pearls in 1959.

    At first glance they appeared too uniform and lack typical pearl overtones, leading me to think artificial, but after a little research and revisiting the images I'm inclined to think they may be well matched, premium vintage akoyas.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the detailed reply and research! They feel like real pearls (not smooth when pulled light across teeth as some have suggested). What is the easiest way to get a general appraisal? Once again thank you!

  5. #5
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Morita, I am not a big fan of the tooth test as sometimes people seem to find pearls a bit rough when rubbed against the teeth (suggesting they are real), but slippery when rubbed against one another (indicating imitation).

    Before you pay for an appraisal, try rubbing one pearl gently against another in the same strand. Slippery = imitation. Slight resistance = real nacre. Under a 10x loupe, real nacre looks very smooth while imitation looks rougher. (Real nacre looks smooth but feels rough; imitation looks rough but feels smooth.)

    They do have very nice luster in your photos. Whatever they are, they are really pretty!

  6. #6

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    Ok I took your suggestion and although I do not have a loupe they are not smooth slippery when gently rubbed against each other and there seems to be a slight friction or "roughness". Thank you! I don't wear them often but there is some sentimental value although looking at other web sites opera length akoya pearls don't seem to have much value over $600 (although some of the retail prices are a much higher price as expected with all jewelry). So at this point I don't know if am appraisal is really warranted other than curiosity.

  7. #7
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Vintage akoyas have thicker nacre generally than akoyas produced today, as the shells were left in the water longer. And the thicker nacre made them more lustrous.

    While pearls don't seem to hold their value for resale purposes-- some exceptions being pearls of historic value or brand name (Mikimoto in particular)-- I can't imagine you'd be able to replace your strand with pearls of similar quality for for $600. "Replacement value" will be appraised higher than "resale value". And of course, in terms of sentimental /family value, they are irreplaceable.

    If you tend to get your jewelry appraised for insurance purposes, then you may want to have these appraised as well.

    But if you ask me, your real risk is losing the strand if the silk breaks. Pearls need to be restrung periodically, more often if worn often. Skin oils, dirt and moisture wear out the silk over time. If they have not been restrung they are probably due to be.

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