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  • #16
    Pattye, thanks for posting that reference to the FTC rules. I believe there is a current proposed rule, which is open for public comment, on the labeling of stones including pearls. I'll see if I can find a link to it. The information here has been so interesting!

    ETA: Here's the link to the proposed rule making https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/doc...sstatement.pdf Pages 111-124 deal with pearls.
    http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
    Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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    • #17
      I appreciate Caitlin's statement that she really was having difficulty making the statement about Biwa! and E. Strack for being willing to put it on paper. No fun stirring up a hornet's nest.


      I was going to look at my necklace to count the pearls I thought were genuine Biwa, vs the ones I've suspected were Chinese since coming to PG and getting 'schooled'. How silly would that be?! It's all about the mother shell, and the pearl sorters.

      thanks for putting up the link, and citing the page!

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      • #18
        Thank you, JP for that link! I want to read the whole piece. I have recently noticed on some websites selling freshwater pearl jewelry the disclosure that the white pearls have been bleached.

        Thankfully, there are international discussions ongoing regarding gem treatments, disclosures, descriptions of metals, even what should be on lab reports from highly respected institutions. Nothing is too sacred to avoid question.
        Pattye


        PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

        facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

        SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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        • #19
          Interestingly, the new rule addresses rubies...which very commonly are filled with red-lead glass. As a consumer, I have learned so much from reading this document, as well as the insight the comment summaries provide.

          ETA: I should also note that ANYONE can provide comments to the FTC on their proposal.
          http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
          Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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          • #20
            Good to know the FTC is accepting input.

            On FB there is a public group I follow, SCAMOLOGIST, which has international members. They discuss such issues as treated and filled rubies, gem scams, and much more.
            Pattye


            PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

            facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

            SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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            • #21
              This document is great snowy day reading...there is also discussion of the use of the term "green amethyst", "yellow emerald" and the like.
              http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
              Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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              • #22
                I understand the level of ethics here and hold to it. I am also pragmatic.

                I am afraid I sound stern, but I do not feel stern- just a bit formal. I am just to happy share what I know.

                Its just that Strack said on page 420 that "japan marketed the Chinese production around the world until the start of the 1980's. The pearls were declared product of Japan." Practically speaking, that includes any older strands and stocks that are impossible to tell apart.

                Since the 1980's, Japan stills buys from China and remarkets as "product of Japan". That goes for Lake Biwa and - could for Mikimoto too - when Chinese production was strong in akoyas. Japan has never distinguished Mikimoto pearls as being from Japan and China or required it.

                While Strack continues to say that the term should not be used- in my opinion, that is an ideal when it comes to Biwas, because many of the pearls sold as Biwas today are still "products of Japan" because Japan still buys pearls from China to fill needed markets.

                My argument is that honestly you don't know who is selling real Lake Biwas and who is selling "product of Japan Biwas" from China, because Japan has never stopped buying needed inventory from China to make up for when they have low output. I am almost positive it has happened since the beginning of Chinese production to the present. They swoop off the top product almost by default.

                There may be people who get the authentic product from Biwa, but if they pack their inventory, they make a better living.

                I just found this on Sarahs website
                Pearl cultivating operations in Lake Biwa Japan began in the 1920’s and enjoyed a boom of production before dying out in the 1980’s due to polluted waters. The introduction of cultured Japanese fresh water pearls in unusual shapes, gave rise to the term “Biwa” which is now commonly used to describe the shape of a pearl.
                I may be right to be so insistent about Lake Biwa pearls. None today and the Old stock, if any, was not distinguished from China's. The real world is messy and sometimes ethics are idealistic. Pearls have consistently since the beginning of history been associated with intrigue, mystery, pearl-monger's stories, and never the truth. Calling something a Biwa pearl from the beginning of Chinese pearls included Chinese stock.

                Therefore, Biwa is strictly a sales term to impress those who do not know there is no present production at Lake Biwa.

                This website stands for telling the truth, even when it is less than ethical. If Sarah is correct and I think she is totally ethical - and more up to date than Strack's most excellent book.
                Caitlin

                How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

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                • #23
                  To be clear, I'm not knowledgeable enough on the subtle, or even not so subtle distinctions...I just posted the FTC document because they seem to address the issue of labeling with specific reference to Biwa pearls. It might be helpful for the FTC to understand the point you are making Caitlin, since they seem to be making a distinction that might not be as clear as they are assuming it is. I love this site for all of the wonderful information and expertise of minds far wiser than my own!
                  http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
                  Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by pattye View Post
                    I also have a couple of strands from Terry Shepherd, in a lovely lavender gray shade. I also had a long colorful pearl ring. I've not had time to reread Strack's chapter on Biwa Pearls. I feel there were plenty of certifiable pearls from Lake Biwa. I seriously doubt even 1% of vendors would be able to name (or care) what kind of mussel their pearls came from.
                    Sorry Pattye, I have been combing Strack's Lake Biwa pages for another project for several days- it's a great story.

                    The old stock was replenished with the Chinese output from the minute the lake died, in the 1980s. Before 1980"s it was all mixed Chinese and Japanese stock, after 1980's 100% Chinese stock. Unless you bought one of the necklaces Pearlescence was talking about.

                    Everybody. Please don't be mad at me for being so insistent.
                    Caitlin

                    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by lisa c View Post
                      Wow. So, that means:my little pearls bought in 1980, described as "probably among the last of the Lake Biwa pearls, because of pollution and massive shell die-offs", have no provenance?

                      and only an old-timer like Fuji Voll, and Sarah Canizarro, who have access to really old stock - and the receipts from the old farmers - those are the only names I remember, have any good provenance. And I remember once, Terry Shepherd.

                      oh well, disappointing but We buy pearls mostly for beauty, right? When my then husband bought them for me, we didn't know what Lake Biwa meant anyway.
                      They did not lose their provenance. They were sold from Lake Biwa companies to pad their output. It is just that now we know the pearls from China were mixed in and all sold as Biwas. After all, they were all pearls from Biwa pearly mussels.
                      Caitlin

                      How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                      My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

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                      • #26
                        I woke up today thinking about this thread. I am very sorry, I did not just relate the brief history of Biwa pearls in my first answer. So I want to make up for that now.

                        Dr Masao Fujita, in a about 1924 went to Lake Biwa from his previous endeavors with Mikimoto. A fully trained technician, he nucleated the Biwa Pearly mussels with a mop bead and a strip of mantle tissue and produced the first Lake Biwa pearls . By the 1930's he was marketing these nucleated orbs in England, Germany, France, and India. In India they were sold as natural pearls.

                        Everything came to a halt in WWII. When Lake Biwa started up again, Fujita's mentees started using only mantle tissue to produce pearls. No more nucleated Lake Biwas after WWII.

                        Meanwhile in China they began cultivating Biwa mussels in the 1960's. The Japanese bought the entire Chinese output, from the 1960's to the 70's, when China started marketing them. All new Biwas are from China since the 1980s.

                        This is now an ethical mess and people in this thread have pointed that out, but there is no way to tell Chinese from Japanese Biwas and never was. So, to follow FTC regulations, ONLY nucleated Biwas from before WWII are truly Biwa pearls with no mixed provenance.

                        Pattye, check p 420, that is where Strack tells us about the Chinese production of Biwa pearls and how Japan bought them all until 1970's, when China started marketing on its own. Since then they have only bought some of the Chinese production, and resold them as products of Japan.

                        I am going to see Elisabeth at the Gem Show and I intend to ask her more about this and how it can be (or is being) squared with the FTC, CIBJO, whatever. I am also going to subscribe to her newsletter in the next month or so.

                        Next, let's take on "Basra" pearls. Now that's some controversial pearly nomenclature!
                        Caitlin

                        How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                        My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

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                        • #27
                          Wow, thanks for that brief, yet very thorough history lesson! The concrete example sited in the regulation seems not quite so cut and dry now, given the history.
                          http://www.oceanscovejewelry.com
                          Instagram: Ocean's Cove

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                          • #28
                            Yes, very interesting!

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                            • #29
                              Fascinating indeed! Caitlin, we all look forward to hearing any additional information Elisabeth or Sarah and Fuji might share on the subject and of course, the intrigue of Basra Pearls.
                              Pattye


                              PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

                              facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

                              SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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                              • #30
                                Very interesting reading ... huge thanks to Caitlin especially!
                                Cathy

                                CathyKeshi

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