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What kind of pearls do I have?

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  • What kind of pearls do I have?

    Looking for any info on these pearls that I have. If anyone is able to provide type, or colour, or estimated appraisal value - i would very much appreciate it! I am new to the world of pearls.
    thank you!Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    rachel1sop, Welcome to Pearl-Guide!

    You have 93 pearls (with 93 knots), pearls all one size, knotted as an endless strand. The necklace appears to be about 26-26.5 inches long, so the pearls would be around 6.5mm. They are all fairly round, with a little variation, but not eggy the way freshwaters might be (I think there is a bit of distortion in the first photo but in the second photo they appear generally round.)

    They are fairly uniform in color (white/cream), size, shape, without a high luster (but it's harder to judge luster and overtones against a non-white background.)
    They could be imitation. To tell the truth, that is my first impression.

    It would really help if you could take a few more photos-- against a white background this time (paper towel is good). Please include closeups, especially of any flaws.

    Do the pearls feel slightly gritty or smooth when rubbed very gently against another pearl?
    If they are gritty, they may be real nacre (genuine pearls.) If they feel smooth, they are likely imitation pearls.

    Look at the drill holes-- do you see any swirly build-up of extra nacre? That is typical of imitation pearls.
    Is there any chipping away of the nacre anywhere-- near the drill holes or elsewhere? What does it look like (very thin and flaky if imitation), and what is underneath? (shiny glass bead, if imitation.)
    Are the drill holes beveled at all? That would be typical of some imitation pearls (but not all.)

    Finally, any history on the pearls would help (where/when you or your relative got them, price range if you know it, any documentation you have (receipts, appraisals).


    • #3
      I inherited them from my aunt, she was 88 when she passed away. She was not known to own anything I do not have knowledge of where they were purchased or when. From what I can see there is no chipping anywhere on the necklace and I am not able to see any beveled drill holes. I am attaching two better pictures, one against a white piece of paper and one of a close up (as close as I can get it to be) of the drill holes.

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      • #4
        I'm sorry, but they look like imitation pearls to me, too, for all the same reasons mentioned by Pearl Dreams.


        • #5
          Ok. Thank you :-)


          • #6
            Lots of ladies have imitation pearls-- whether or not people know it. Jackie Kennedy's famous 3 strand pearl necklace was a fake, as were Barbara Bush's!

            Your grandmother may have picked these up because they are easy to slip over the head. In her 80s my mother preferred such necklaces rather than having to struggle with clasps.

            Have you tried rubbing one pearl gently against another? Fake pearls glide easily, although grime build-up (such as is visible near the drill holes in your new closeup photo) can cause there to be a slight resistance when rubbing. If you find resistance, give them a bath in mild, warm soapy water (use bottled water if you have hard water like we do), and when they are dry, test again.

            If they still demonstrate resistance ("grittiness") it may be worth checking them closer, with a loupe. Real nacre looks very smooth on 10x magnification while imitation looks coarser. Any jeweler would have a loupe and you could ask to look at your pearls with it. Compare what you see under magnification with genuine pearls they are selling-- or with other pearls known to be fake.
            Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 07-12-2016, 04:56 PM.


            • #7
              Also, in a real pearl strand, you would expect to have some pearls with flaws. If there are no flaws, there is a high likelihood that they are fakes.


              • #8
                Fakes or not it is a very beautiful necklace. But I would rub them together as others have recommended to check to see if they are fakes or not.
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                • #9
                  They look cultured.


                  • #10
                    Well, that's always possible, which is why it's worth testing them further.

                    I have a strand of vintage akoyas that l got for $5 because they were so dull from accumulated grime that someone had tossed them in the pile of costume jewelry being sold.


                    • #11
                      They don't look real to me either. The only thing that gave me pause was it looks like some were off-round.
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                      • #12
                        Whatever they are , they are really lovely !