Hi everyone. I came across an article today that mentioned something about luster treatment in freshwater pearls. Do all freshwater pearls go through this treatment, or only the ones that have been bleached?
Luster treatment is nearly universal with freshwater pearls, yes.
Bleaching and luster treatments are two different things. The luster treatment usually consists of a hot-cold, hot-cold. Very similar to the maeshori luster treatment used on akoya and South Sea pearls to a large extent.
what if the pearls were a different color, other that white? Is there a way to tell if the treatment has taken place? Does it involve chemicals?
or is it just a hot and cold water soaking? Will it wear off? Does it affect value?
does this only occur with low quality pearls?
Any pearls that have been drilled and matched in China have gone through it. Sure there are those few pearls that someone may select out prior to treatment - this is how we created the naturally brown and gold strand, as well as the untreated baroques a few months back.
Anything else has been treated - without exception. The treatment is accepted and it increases the value of even high-grade pearls. So it is done - universally.
The hot cold treatment tightens the skin of the pearl by dehydrating it. This increases the luster. Treatments to freshwater in China are rarely permanent, and the pearls will almost always change to some extent.
Are you talking about pearls that are only on strands?
No, I am talking about everything. Unless you have pearls that have been selected prior to the third stage of processing, they have gone through this treatment - no matter what the seller says. Chances are they do not know either. Why do these "untreated" pearls not make it to the market? After treatment the luster is better and the value is higher.
Senior Guide Member
Originally Posted by jshepherd
It is always so interesting reading your posts, so I am always glad whenI see you on. I am really looking forward to your alumni tour review.
About the treatments to freshwater, how much change can we expect as the treatments wear off? I have only purchased freshwaters from you and Terry, and am wondering what to expect. Even though I feel like I have been on this forum forever, it has only been since February, and all my purchases dating from then.
It is really going to vary with each piece, so it is hard to say definitively. The white strands are typically the ones that any change becomes most noticeable on. They seem to be the most susceptible to over-treatment. Have you ever seen the whites that become chalky looking? That is a classic sign. In an over-treated strand this can happen within 3 months. In a properly treated strand, a strand coming from a factory that is not working towards the largest, fastest ROI (few and far between), the changes may hardly be noticeable.
This is why care of the pearls is also so important. If the pearls are cared for properly, while they will have slight variations over time, they should last a long, long time.
Senior Guide Member
I don't think I have ever seen chalky looking pearls in person, just in some bad internet photos from some shady companies.
Now, I have seen some freshwaters here in Japan that seemed like seed pearls. They were fashioned into a multi-strand torsade, and it was an exquisite aged-ivory color. The jeweler told me they wouldn't hold that color long because they were freshwater. Of course I wondered if they were dyed, but he didn't know. But he was showing me the strand as an example of Chinese freshwaters because it was they only ones he had. Not a huge shock in small town Japan. Lots of Akoyas, lots of Tahitians, but that was mainly it.
The reason I bring this up is the color question. In very tiny pearls, would white pearls tend to show a yellowing with age? Or is this more due to treaments wearing off? Or could it have just been a translation problem? I guess he could have been referring to the luster, but I know he said the color would change. Any thoughts are great.
If Pearl Paradise was to carry an untreated line, i.e., not just in private sale, I am sure some customers, me included, would be willing and happy to pay a premium for it. This is based on a desire to have pearls as they are and also from my own little experience. For example, I bought three untreated freshwater baroque necklaces. The highest price/value one has plump shape and very good luster right from the beginning. I think the medium price one had comparatively less luster back in May (it was still very good, just that I have several strands to compare with). By now, the luster of that necklace has actually improved, and I don't think I am imagining it. Good untreated pearls just get better with time.
Thanks again for those freshwater baroques. I really love them.
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