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Online Pearl Inquiry

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  • Online Pearl Inquiry

    Hi there Pearl Aficionados,

    I am brand new to your site and I am so appreciative to have some guidance around my pearl fascination. I apologize if this is not the correct thread, as my query pertains to Etsy listings and not Ebay, however, as both are online forums that sell used items, I'm hopeful the heart of my question is still relevant.

    Here goes: I am wondering if I could receive some guidance around 3 different pearl listings that I have been going back and forth on (for a purchase of just one). I have never owned real pearls other than a sweet little bracelet I recently got, relatively inexpensively, and passed all of the "tests" for realness. After hours and hours of research, I felt comfortable spending $27 on it should I have been wrong about its authenticity. However, I would love to now purchase a necklace and as the necklaces cost more (b/w $100-$160), I really do hope to get it right quality-wise. At least the best out of the three! May I post the linked pictures of them and ask your opinion?

    1) Cultured cream, circa 1950's, 17.5" long, 14kg clasp. It looks quite murky to me, the pearls themselves and not lustrious, but perhaps I don't know what pearl lustre truly is and what I'm looking for...? The knotted silk strand also appeared to be turning color, which for the age of the necklace is understandable. It would need to be re-strung.

    2) A cultured cream, circa 1960's, 20" long, 14kg clasp, not stated as freshwater. Does it look to be another kind? This one I really fell in love with and would like to purchase, despite the broken string! However, the hesitation for me is that it is $60 more than the others, and what I would like to know is, is this necklace worth it? The clasp is working fine, needs to be re-knotted/strung, and graduated pearls look to be a lovely lustre. Please can you give me some honest feedback? Thoughts, opinions on whether I should splurge for this one?

    3) Lastly, its description is South Sea pearls, 36" long, 14kg clasp. Do these indeed look to be South Sea pearls? If so, would this strand be a better deal overall in terms of quality & length? Also, as the owner couldn't answer if this strand had been dyed, what are your thoughts about the pearls- whether naturally colored or dyed to color?

    As a single sole supporting mum to a beatiful little guy, I am very, very cautious about spending money and rarely do. I know its only a $100-$160 and for most that shouldn't warrant such painstaking trepidation around a necklace purchase... but I also just want to feel good about what I got. Also, I need some expertise to help me understand my interpretation of pearl research (since I'm unable to hold/examine them prior to purchase).

    Thank you for your time and feedback~


  • #2
    Hi sulema,

    The first one is akoya but they do not appear to have good luster, and they are probably not as old as advertised as graduated strands were the thing back then. I'd pass on that strand.

    The second one looks to be a nice graduated strand of vintage akoya pearls and a good deal, as long as you the size and style. It would not be hard to restring them yourself (see tutorials on the Lowly Beaders Club forum here) using either the "fine" size of Serafil / Beaders Secret thread or else 10# Power Pro. Both are synthetic threads and quite suitable for the job.

    The third necklace is not South Sea pearls. The pearls are naturally colored baroque freshwater pearls from China. It's a pretty strand and I find that multicolor FWP strands go with a lot of different outfits. Baroque shaped pearls are also casual looking and quite suitable for the life of a busy mom! My only caveat is that the colors may be more pastel in person than they appear in the photos. This is common with FWP.
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 09-28-2020, 08:34 PM.


    • #3
      Welcome, Sulema,

      Good evaluation of the necklaces, Pearl Dreams!

      The seller of the broken necklace suggests she would consider an offer; that could bring the price down a little. (Recommend you contact the seller to say you especially like the strand and restringing could be $50 or so, and make her an offer.)

      The third necklace can be worn long or doubled, which makes it quite versatile, especially nice for a first necklace. Free shipping is a savings, too.



      • #4
        Hmm, personally i wouldn't feel comfortable buying option 3) when it is adverticed as South Sea Pearls and isn't. Even when I know what it is.

        Sulema, I can recommend browsing the online sellers a lot, Pearl Paradise, Pearls of Joy, Pure Pearls, as well as the links to etsy stores from people here on the forum. The problem can be to not buy but it will give you a much better idea of what you like, what pearls that match description look like and what fair prices are.

        - Karin

        Editing to add two etsy sellers people have given good reports about that are in the low-end of the price range: WenPearls, KongsPearl. Plus adding the advice that most of us started out buying pearls we ended up not using because they were cheaper but not what we truly like. You might want to wait longer and save and spend time deciding what you love - and then look for a good deal. It will most likely save you money in the long run


        • #5
          Personally I would buy the second, broken one. The clasp is nice and the pearls have a beautiful luster. You can learn to restring them yourself. It is not very difficult. Good luck with your new pearls.


          • #6
            Hi everyone,

            Thank you so much for your opinions and advice!! I was really glad to read your responses.

            I agree with you all around the price and strands. I actually had offered the owner of the 2nd strand $100 plus shipping (about a $50 price reduction) to which he agreed. However, he then lowered the price to $140, which confused me. He is based out of BC, Canada, and I'm in Ontario, Canada. He was speaking in terms of USD funds, not CAD funds. So in all he was willing to go down $15. He has now put them back up to regular price as I told him I would consider and let him know. At the 10% discount he offered, it would cost, $140 + shipping = $160 CAD, plus re-stringing cost. I just have to figure out if for my first strand of real pearls I can splurge that. I was hoping not to go above $100 (which made the multi-colored baroque strand quite enticing).

            I will certainly wait and see and browse the different sellers you've kindly passed on to me. I'm learning that pearls are in the plenty, but not all of them are truly lovely. I've seen some incredible vintage akoya finds on here from others' posted pics!

            I am really glad to have found your site and thank you again~



            • #7
              Hi, great questions
              For the first one, I question if there are real vs faux pearls, look at the 5th photo upper left, looks like a chipped enlarged drill hole
              The second one seems the most real, the seller is not trying to call it something it isn’t, seems to be the right vintage too.
              The third one, as other have said are newer freshwater pearls, so not vintage or South Sea.
              Good luck and enjoy your pearls.



              • #8
                Hi there Simply Adorned,

                Yes that 5th picture was what had me questioning them as well. I noticed the larger/chipped drill hole right away, however I wondered if age could perhaps cause that on a strand of real pearls.

                It looks like the 2nd strand is a GO. I wasn't comfortable purchasing without first getting the guidance of some pearl experts (thank you so much everyone!). After reading the responses on here, I feel better proceeding with the sale of the graduated strand. Owner has offered $140.

                Btw, I read Akoya pearls loose their lustre over time and must be worn more carefully than freshwater pearls- is this true? I hope to take very good care of them- have a pretty strand for special occassions.

                Pearl Dreams, thank you for pointing me towards the re-stringing tutorials- that is exactly what I am hoping to do (re-string/knot them myself).

                Pattye, KatrinK and Charlotta (beautiful name btw! My sister goes by Carlotta, Spanish for Charlotte) :-). Thank you for your feedback and help in my decision. Pattye and Simply Adorned- you both have such lovely pearls on your Etsy page! I understand now what KatrinK meant by looking around seeing the different kinds, quality and price point. Again, thank you so much for your guidance.



                • #9
                  I'd like to point out that the first strand could be from the 1950s. My birthday strand are akoyas my Mom bought when I was born (1950s) and they are 6 mm and NOT graduated at all. They are all the same size. The strand in the photo is very dull. I wouldn't buy it.

                  The broken strand have very nice luster and a nice clasp and look like good akoyas. Those could be restrung into a very nice necklace for the price.

                  The 3rd necklace is not described correctly. It's not South Sea pearls.


                  • #10
                    I just approved posts #6 and #8 by sulema. Others had posted replies in the meantime.

                    Sulema, you asked about akoya pearls losing their luster. It's not that exactly; all pearls can lose luster if exposed to skin oils/sweat/cosmetics/pollution etc. Akoyas have a relatively thin layer of nacre over a bead nucleus, while most freshwater pearls are solid nacre. If an akoya pearl has overly-thin nacre, over time the nacre may wear away or chip away, exposing the nucleus. However, vintage akoyas tend to have thicker nacre than many akoyas today.

                    You don't have to save them for special occasions. Wipe them with a soft microfiber cloth after wearing, before putting them away. If I've been wearing pearls on a hot day and sweating, I dampen my hand and run it lightly over my pearls, then wipe them with the soft cloth.


                    • #11
                      Hi Peal Dreams,

                      Thank you for clarifying, and providing the tip in keeping pearls fresh! I'm so glad you stipulated that I could wear them more often- I cannot wait to receive them, re-string and finally share my new-found love of pearls!! There is something so incredibly beautiful and precious about pearls- all of them so different... I've truly developed a love affair over the last month of research and looking at pictures. The fact that the strand I purchased are smaller (even the largest graduated is not more than 6.6mm) fits my personality quite well. I love pretty jewlery, but as I'm always on the go and tend to cycle to commute to work/school, I've never quite been able to pull off larger pieces.

                      Also, I think I understand now that there are so many factors which contribute to a pearl's quality: Bead nucleated pearls, vs all nacre freshwater pearls; vintage pearls vs modern pearls (and the time the pearl is havested- ie. 50's pearls were up to 2 yrs and modern pearls some less than a year); where they come from- all contribute to a pearl's color, lustre & thickness of nacre.

                      May I ask how you distinguish b/w nucleated pearls and all-nacre pearls? Is this something one can spot just by looking at a pearl?

                      And lastly: Is this strand a real strand of pearls? It looks to be, (or a good fake), but I'm not sure... Also the clasp looks to have diamonds! But again, I am unable to tell for sure. It is adverstised as vintage strand, 15"... owner is unsure about them.



                      • #12
                        That strand definitely appears to be imitation.

                        Akoyas are all bead-nucleated (the exception being keshi, which are very baroque and readily identifiable). Most fwp are still all nacre, and most are not fully round, lacking a bead inside to make them round. Eggy shapes are common.

                        However, some farms are culturing FW pearls with bead nuclei. E.g. "Edisons", which are large, high-luster FWP (usually large, although some smaller ones are now starting to be produced). "Ripples" are bead nucleated FWP pearls that didn't come out with a smooth surface. "Flameballs" are large bead-nucleated FWP that have a comet-like tail.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
                          That strand definitely appears to be imitation.

                          Akoyas are all bead-nucleated (the exception being keshi, which are very baroque and readily identifiable). Most fwp are still all nacre, and most are not fully round, lacking a bead inside to make them round. Eggy shapes are common.

                          However, some farms are culturing FW pearls with bead nuclei. E.g. "Edisons", which are large, high-luster FWP (usually large, although some smaller ones are now starting to be produced). "Ripples" are bead nucleated FWP pearls that didn't come out with a smooth surface. "Flameballs" are large bead-nucleated FWP that have a comet-like tail.
                          I see, thank you PD.

                          Yes, I agree, definitely an imitation strand. What confused me were not the 6 glass beads on the metal loops that clearly were chipped and faux, but the pearls in some of her pictures seemed to have the telltale bubbles and smiley face on them (if you know what I mean? Or maybe I'm seeing things- I honestly see a smiley face on pictured pearls! lol). Anyway, some of the drill holes also seemed chipped and uneven. She was selling it for $10- either a great steal or not at all. ;-)


                          • #14
                            Certainly the pearls on the metal loops are in terrible shape -- probably from having been abraded by the hook part of the clasp when the necklace was worn different lengths-- but the others also look fake to me. No overtones, and all very much alike in color, size and luster.

                            A lot of sellers don't know what they are selling and don't make the effort to find out. Buyers have to be knowledgeable-- and careful.


                            • #15
                              Pearls that are perfectly round, or a very specific shape are bead nucleated. Pearls that are off round or very baroque are usually all nacre. There are exceptions, as you can find fireball, drop shapes, and baroque pearls that are bead nucleated, and you can usually tell because there appears to be a round bead at the center covered with lumps and bumps