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South sea keshi or reborn freshwater keshi

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  • South sea keshi or reborn freshwater keshi

    Hello all,

    I have been lurking on this forum for a while, and I think it's a wonderful resource for those interested in almost anything to do with pearls.

    This is my first post, and I would be grateful for any opinions.

    I am interested in a big south sea keshi necklace, and I found this one:

    My question is, how can one tell the difference between a genuine SS keshi pearl (which may be hollow), and CFWS reborn (or second growth) keshis?

    I think these are more probably reborn keshis, because of the concave/ridged shape of the pearls, the large size (which is more usual in CFWS reborn keshis), the threading method using filament (instead of knotted silk or power pro), and the 925 clasp (keshis this size retail for 4 figures), although I understand that these indicators are not definitive.

    In additional, the seller has a pair of matching bracelet from the same estate with freshwaters and a big "SS" keshi, but I think those center pearls are obviously CFWS fireball reborn pearls.

    What do you all think? It would be a pleasure to be convinced by the members of this forum that this is indeed a klonker SS keshi necklace. With pearls though, I have found that if anything is too good to be true it probably is.

    Background note: I own true SS keshis (purchased from reputable members of this forum [whom I can recognize], before I had any idea this forum existed), CFWS reborn keshis and fireballs. I realize that many sellers, both online and B&Ms, are not as knowledgable about pearls as some of the members of this forum, especially regarding non standard shaped freshwater (or saltwater) pearls (new or old), and that there is or may be no intention to mislead. I still would like to know though.

  • #2
    I think I would tend to assume they are FW reborn type keshi unless I knew the seller had impeccable sources.

    You can't go by shape, color or luster. I have FW keshi that are silvery-white (more so than most of my other FWP) highly lustrous and which display orient.

    I've also seen SS keshi being sold at Tiffany's for ten times what they were selling their FW keshi for, yet they looked more or less the same to my eyes. (Mine are not from Tiffany's!)
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 12-06-2013, 01:23 PM.


    • #3
      the two bracelet centrepieces are certainly and definately freshwater fireballs.
      On the basis that once one thing is wrong then the rest probably is, these are all freshwater. Not even keishi, just baroques. Odd stringing method for ' Custom-made for a lady of wealth and fashion likely during the past 10 years'....wire and rather low end sterling findings and what look like calottes. Certainly not made by anyone with an ounce of pearl skill
      Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021


      • #4

        Welcome! Seems like you've learned lots about pearls, and I agree with you, Pearl Dreams and Wendy, all three pieces look like freshwater to me. That said, the necklace especially seems to have excellent luster in some of the photos. Certainly the pearls do need restringing and a worthy clasp. There is an additional discount currently and a return policy.

        Love your keshi, Pearl Dreams!



        • #5
          Thank you, Pattye! I have a second strand that hangs just inside that one when I want to double them up; I've played with the idea of restringing them as a 36" strand but keeping them separate is more versatile, although I may restring and change their clasps (fishhooks at present) to look nicer connected end to end.


          • #6
            Isn't it fun to imagine all the variations that we can produce in a few hours or less?! (Even if we don't do it.)





            • #7
              Pearl Dreams, pearlescence and patty, thanks for your answers, and welcome. Based on your opinions which are in line with my instinct I am giving this "south sea keshi" necklace a pass.

              pearlescence, I would usually agree with your comment that "On the basis that once one thing is wrong then the rest probably is", and do agree in this instance, and for this seller; but regarding another seller, I have come across what I think may be an exception to the rule ? an instance of baroque natural (not cultivated = taken from oysters in the wild) south seas ? I really want all your opinions on it but have hesitated so far because, well, I have read so many posts where people wish to think they have natural pearls and it turns out to be either CFWS or baroque akoyas.


              • #8
                I see such a sold strand on Ruby Lane... are these the ones?


                • #9
                  Anywhere along the supply chain, one innocent person can be mislead, and everyone down the line will assume that the pearls are natural. An identification report from a gemological laboratory that is experienced in determining whether pearls are natural or cultured is the only way to be sure. At the very least, I would only purchase with the understanding that you can get a refund if they do not pass lab testing. Having seen friends get burned, I tend to be suspicious.

                  Part of the problem of having people check out your potential purchase here, is that someone else may think it's a good deal and grab it before you can decide what to do. I hope you find your special pearls soon.


                  • #10
                    GemGeek makes several good points. A word to the wise...!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
                      I see such a sold strand on Ruby Lane... are these the ones?
                      I walked away from the computer and missed your post. A great example of something not as described!


                      • #12
                        Personally, if I was on a pearl mission, it would be to get the ones that tickle my fancy the most. Great cultured pearls can have most of the attributes of naturals without the cost and you will sleep better at night, knowing with certainty that you received what you paid for. But if your pearl mission is to get naturals, then you need to get them from someone with natural pearl experience who will back up your purchase.

                        It takes a lot of knowledge and a high tolerance for risk to search for bargain natural pearls on the internet.


                        • #13
                          Hi PearlDreams (and GemGeek),

                          good detective work. Um … Agreed, and it would be just too embarrassing to post about my mislabeled strands of so called "natural pearls" (alas, too many for comfort). That said, this necklace was my first purchase, and I still kind of think it may be as described rather than "A great example of something not as described!". I agree about getting any natural pearls properly certified at a lab. But I do have my reasons, and it wasn't because the seller was adamant about these being non cultivated pearls from the south seas.

                          1) If these had been perfectly round pearls, it would be absolutely impossible to tell. But as free form baroques, after scrutinizing all of the pearls, I can confirm that these have no round bead nucleus, as some of them are too flat to have any nucleus.

                          2) The looseness of the stringing, and the style of the 14kt fishhook clasp indicates that these are probably vintage. My research shows the design of the fishhook clasp is probably from from 40s to 60s, leaning more towards the 1960s. But of course, anybody can use a vintage clasp on a more recent strand.

                          3) If they were from the 1960s, back then weird shape baroque naturals were not in demand or wildly expensive … so it is possible that a simple 14kt clasp was used. It would not have been highly valued like a strand of round pearls.

                          4) The color is off white (range between cream, ivory, maybe very light gold), all the pearls have different body colors and overtones as well as shapes. Never seen that in any CFWS. Definitely natural colors and not bleached, and I think most white freshwaters from Japan and China would have been bleached white?, both back then and now?

                          5) If from 1960s or 70s and freshwater (because no nucleus), then could only be Lake Biwa pearls (or I guess cultured US river pearls), because CFWS at this time was typically some kind of rice krispies shapes. But it's not the typical shape of Biwas either (I ran across several strands of Biwas in my research, including on this forum). Biwas were also typically much smaller, 4 to 6mm. This averages 10mm.

                          6) Could be later (second generation) CFWS, but although some have flat bottom, not all have, the pearls are actually relatively plumpish and roundish, definitely not any typical CFWS shape like button, corn, nugget or potato. It's also much more lustrous than any second generation CFWS. There is one slightly potato shape, but it has a concave bottom, and … some wild pearls do slightly resemble tissue nuke freshwaters.

                          7) Could be much later (3rd generation) baroque pearl-in-pearl nucleated CFWS (the new hybrid mussel produces a much more lustrous nacre), but in that case, you would find many of the pearls with imperfect skin showing the inner baroque pearl that was used to nucleate it. That inner pearl sort of bumps out in the center of the new layers of nacre. None of the pearls in this necklace show that effect.

                          8) The clincher (for me ) is the orient. This has tremendous pink/green/blue orient on every pearl. The pearls also appear almost translucent when you hold them against a light source.

                          9) Many of the pearls have a sort of concentric growth ring type blemish (some have two). I see this effect where the pearls move and are grown against the shell. I have seen this type of blemish in current CFWS, but the luster, orient and transparency is totally different.

                          10)They could just be very good mystery freshwaters … but the surface is … I don't know how to explain it. You know how in some SS keshis you can see that the surface layer is almost like big brick-like platelets of aragonite against each other? Well, it's like that on these pearls.

                          I can try to post a photo of my own, but seriously, I have never come across such … translucency in freshwater, or saltwater pearls before. I will send them to a lab later, not for X-rays to determine lack of bead nucleus, but to determine wild parasitic nucleus versus SS keshi type versus tissue nuke, and more importantly, to determine saltwater versus freshwater origin … can they do that without destructive tests?

                          Basically, if saltwater, then it's probably natural or at least SS keshi (which I want a necklace of anyway). And I know it could also be freshwater in which case it is definitely cultured, but like I said from the timeline and other indicators I do think there's a more than 50% chance. If it's freshwater it's a really beautiful example, I would love to see more examples (and like to know where I could get more).

                          Thank you all very much for all opinions, I am seriously grateful for your interest and answers. I don't want to sound like someone who 100% doesn't want to know her pearls (of whatever type) are not as she hopes … I do understand these may be (and for most of you, probably have a higher chance of being) cultured freshwaters.
                          Last edited by Pipypupy; 12-07-2013, 11:52 AM. Reason: I will post a photo tomorrow, it's too dark to take one now.


                          • #14
                            I have read everything you have written about those pearl and want to make two points only
                            1 the loose knotting yes, but very white for old. I suspect just bad technique
                            2 to me they look more like ripple/kasumi - ish and that I what I would have thought they were if you had not argued your case. I have a strand of white 'ripples' which certainly look like big white south seas - even when you hold real white ss next to them. only the flaws give away the difference

                            I think that all too often natural is used to mean 'from some mollusc as opposed to made in a factory fake' rather than the more narrow specialised meaning the pearl world applies to it. (also cultured is problematic)
                            perhaps it is time to start using the more clear and accurate terms 'wild' and 'farmed'
                            Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021


                            • #15
                              Pipypupy, I admire the amount of critical thought you have applied to your evaluation. You have made some great points to consider.

                              I'm still having a hard time believing the pearls are natural. Baroque cultured pearls can also have translucency. From your description, it sounds like the necklace is certainly beautiful enough to merit the price paid.

                              Tinges of gold appear on south sea pearls and "kasumi-type" pearls.

                              You may find it fun to get your own, better photos, but it can be challenging to photograph pearls. Try indirect natural light on a white paper towel with a macro setting (little flower). I can't wait to see more photos.