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Advice on selling a cultured pearl necklace to a jeweller/auction house

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  • Advice on selling a cultured pearl necklace to a jeweller/auction house

    I am after some advice on selling a pearl necklace which I inherited from my grandmother in 2007. I wish to sell the necklace for the best price possible and am wondering whether to sell it to a quality jeweller or go the auction route. Either way, I am in the process of having the necklace valued for insurance purposes in order to obtain a certificate outlining the necklace's type of pearls, number, condition , age etc. etc.

    The necklace has 91 cultured pearls (believed to be cultured) with a glass inset clasp. The clasp is hallmarked on the back and glass stones on the front. Age of the necklace at this stage is unknown.

    Ideally, would I get a better price at auction if I had some sort of documentation i.e. from a jeweller ?? As any original documentation that came with the pearl necklace has been lost.

    Would a test from a laboratory be better ?? i.e. an x-ray that would show if they were definitely either cultured or real pearls ??

    I am a pearl novice and any advice/hints would be greatly appreciated.

    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    Hi Amy and welcome,

    A very common confusion for people not familiar with pearls is the terminology. Cultured pearl are real pearls only they are helped along in their creation by man. Natural pearls are also called wild pearls. They occur in the wild without any interference by man at all. Fake pearls have never seen the sea

    You need to find out if these pearls are real pearls. If yes, then there is the question about whether they are cultured or natural. If they are cultured, they would most likely be either akoya (salt water pearls) or freshwater pearls. I am not enough of an expert to have an oppinion but others will come along. I do have a few things for you to do that will help determine what you have.

    The first thing you can do is try to rub two of the pearls gently against each other. Real pearls should feel slightly gritty and fake pearls very smooth. People will also be asking you the size of the pearls. Is there any kind of information about when your grandmother aquired these? Did you or perhaps your mother see her wear them?

    - Karin


    • #3
      When you say the clasp is hallmarked, do you mean it has been assayed and stamped as precious metal by a national assay office such as the London Assay office, which is part of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and has been checking metal quality since C13...or do you mean it has a trademark?
      Especially if the stones are glass....?
      Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021


      • #4
        Hi Amy, welcome!
        A very interesting necklace and thank you for the good photos. What metal is the clasp, if you can tell? Is it possible to take a photo of the hallmark? The variety of rounded, baroque shapes would most likely indicate vintage, cultured akoya pearls., but do not rule out much more rare natural pearls. What is the length of the necklace and the approx. size of the pearls? Are there any family stories about the necklace? Are you sure the stones in the clasp are glass?



        • #5
          Hi all,
          thanks for all your advice/information so far.

          Hi Wendy,
          the clasp is marked on the back with a 4 digit number and a few letters. It looks like it has been engraved. A jeweller recently told me the stones were glass but I might be getting a second opinion on that one.

          Hi Pattye,
          yes I love this necklace for the unusual shape of the pearls. The necklace is 16 inches long (41cm) and the largest pearl is 6 - 7mm ranging to the smallest pearl at 3 - 4mm. I think the clasp is brass. There are no family stories about the necklace unfortunately as I never did get the chance to ask my grandmother about any of the pieces. I just inherited the pieces from her.


          • #6
            I managed to take a photo of the markings on the back of the brass clasp. If anyone recognizes the maker, please share. The number is 2638. Cheers.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              Cool necklace. I would agree with Pattye that it is most likely a vintage cultured akoya pearl necklace. The second pearl in the closeup looks like the bead has been exposed. Have a closer look. You can find comparable sales on eBay by searching closed sales. Definitely have someone look at the clasp. Can you get a closeup of the front of the clasp? Diamonds can be surmised by sharp facet junctions, leading to a closer look by a professional, or at least it might rule out glass. Thanks.