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Mystery pearl pendant that belonged to my mother

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  • Mystery pearl pendant that belonged to my mother

    I’ve had this pendant for a while, but I hadn’t paid much attention to it until now. The only thing I did do was to remove it from the setting and clean the blob of yellowed dried glue from the top of it. Then I reglued it. That was a couple of years ago, before I knew anything about pearls. Today I had my metal testing kit out, and decided to test various objects while it was handy. The pendant finding and bail tested 18K, to my surprise, as they’re unmarked. Mother used to wear this pearl on an 18K chain that I also have, so that’s more info.

    As far as I know she received the chain and pendant from a friend’s estate. The pendant was probably purchased in the 70s.

    I’d love to know if you can spot anything interesting about it. I love it because it was hers; I was only surprised at the metal content of the setting. BTW the pearl is oval, and measures 10mm x 8mm, if that’s helpful. It’s not very lustrous, but it has pretty orient, and has a pleasing density. If I need to take better pics, let me know, and I’ll gladly oblige.

    Thanks for looking, and I wish all a SAFE and pleasant weekend.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I have no idea. It's interesting that it's drilled through and is held in by a headpin. That's not very common for pendants, even though I have one or two that are set that way.

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    • #3
      Beautiful pearl and pendant. I am no expert but to me it looks like a WSS baroque with cream overtone.

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      • #4
        Very old pearls are sometimes fully drilled, at least from paintings I have seen. I guess it was difficult to drill pearls and sometimes you just wanted to use one as a pendant or earring. I have seen antique earrings with those kind of headpins as well. It is a beautiful pendant regardless. That swirly nacre do look like south sea pearl to me as well.

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        • #5
          I suspect old natural pearls were full drilled and set with a headpin because there were no reliable glues way back. Look at the pearls in the Crown Jewels of the UK - drops all full drilled
          Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021
          www.pearlsapractical.guide

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          • #6
            I appreciate all your responses! So it could it possibly be a natural pearl, i.e, not cultured? I have gotten used to shiny shiny cultured pearls, so I was not properly impressed by this one when I found it with Mama’s things. The nacre is very thick. I have some provenance possibilities that may be helpful. The one thing that sticks in my mind is that Mama’s friend had a son who worked in the Middle East, in Kuwait, in the late 60s and 70s. He gave his mom a lot of gifts, and I wonder if this pearl could have been purchased during his Middle Eastern travels. I didn’t want to give a lot of details beforehand because I didn’t want to distract y’all with my speculations.

            Mama’s friend also traveled quite a bit. I feel certain this piece was purchased outside the US.

            I can remove the mounting and take more photos if y’all want to see the entire pearl. I would be glad to.

            It’s interesting that neither the mounting nor the bail has a hallmark. I was pretty surprised to find them testing 18K with my testing kit.

            Thank you for reading all this!
            Last edited by multichrome; 04-24-2021, 04:06 PM.

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            • #7
              Oooooo, this is intriguing.

              After having lost a few dang-led pearls, I appreciate a fully drilled pearl. I does pain me to perhaps lower the perceived ‘value’ of a pearl, but losing one pains me more. Really hurts.

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              • #8
                Hello Multichrome, my thoughts on the pendant is vintage of the period you mention, 60/70’s, and a bespoke piece.

                As for the pearl being fully drilled it is/was quite common, pearl left over from a necklace, Lost earring etc, or it was deliberately done in design. The gold cap looks substantial and hand made.

                There was mention that there where no reliable glues way back, but take a look at Marie Antoinette’s pearls as an example of half drilled on a period fixture.

                I admit it .... I am a glue freak ( I reckon glues in general should have their own wee page).

                Glues can be traced back as far back as the Pharaoh/ Egyptian period.

                Sample of glues used through time, Shellac ( lac beetle), pine resin, animal glue (hide, bone other parts according to intended use of the glues) and even fish glue, they all worked really well.

                Even today, these glues are still being used in a number of trades/crafts, as these glues have certain characteristics that you cannot replicate with modern glues
                https://www.beaderssecret.com
                https://www.etsy.com/shop/BeadersSecret

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                • #9
                  Thank you, lisac and BeadersSecret! BeadersSecret, thank you for your observations and opinion, and for the information about the history of glues and about their use in jewelry. lisac, I’m with you, I’d rather have a drilled pearl than a lost pearl, especially if it has sentimental value.

                  I decided to investigate the Kuwait angle, and looked at Arabian Gulf pearls on KariPearls’ website. There are a LOT of mountings that look very like the one the pearl is mounted on. I’m adding a link to her Gulf pearls page. One pearl is mounted almost exactly like Mama’s pearl. I hope Kari would not mind if I simply add the photo here. The new website just tried to eat my whole post when I tried to add another link.


                  My hand picked catalog Natural Arabian Gulf Pearls (Basra Pearls). I include a Gemological Certificate for every item.
                  Last edited by multichrome; 04-25-2021, 11:33 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I don’t know if the pearl is from the Arabian Gulf, but I love to sleuth out a good vintage mystery, and the fact that Mama’s friend’s son worked so long in that area and had a nice income makes my vintage spider senses tingle. In the good way, haha!

                    For some reason I cannot add a link without being warned that my whole post is about to be deleted, so here is a pic. Pic belongs to karipearls.com. I just realized that this pearl is not full drilled, like the one I have.

                    Thank you to all who are interested in the potential saga.


                    Last edited by multichrome; 04-25-2021, 11:53 AM.

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                    • #11
                      I agree with pearlescence and that little "twirl" on the top? Notice it? I speaks "natural pearl" to me...of course, not reliable until you have it x-rayed or check the drill-hole to see if there is a bead inside. It actually looks like a natural Sea of Cortez pearl to me.
                      Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
                      Admin to Pearl-Guide.com
                      Pearl Farming Specialist
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                      Your Life evolves in the same way a Pearl grows: with continuous layers of experiences/nacre that add to the Story of your Life on Earth and make you Unique and Beautiful.
                      Douglas McLaurin-Moreno

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CortezPearls View Post
                        I agree with pearlescence and that little "twirl" on the top? Notice it? I speaks "natural pearl" to me...of course, not reliable until you have it x-rayed or check the drill-hole to see if there is a bead inside. It actually looks like a natural Sea of Cortez pearl to me.
                        Douglas, it’s within the realm of possibliity that this is a pearl from Mexico. Mother’s friend traveled in Mexico quite a bit (mid-century) and bought a lot of jewelry there and other silver items. As far as I knew, the pieces she acquired were all sterling silver and turquoise, of very nice quality.

                        I wish I could get more of a clue from the 18k mounting.

                        I believe I’ll release the pearl from the headpin/bead cap and peer into the drill hole before remounting it. I wasn’t that careful before in re-seating the pearl in the bead cap, so this time I’ll reset it to best advantage. We have sun today and tomorrow, so I can take photos of all. I hope this is interesting to some of you. Of course I’m interested, because Mother wore this pearl constantly in the last years of her life,
                        Last edited by multichrome; 04-27-2021, 01:10 PM. Reason: typo

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                        • #13
                          I'm interested! It's Detective work...and this always piques my curiosity!
                          Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
                          Admin to Pearl-Guide.com
                          Pearl Farming Specialist
                          Follow Me!
                          Instagram
                          YouTube


                          Your Life evolves in the same way a Pearl grows: with continuous layers of experiences/nacre that add to the Story of your Life on Earth and make you Unique and Beautiful.
                          Douglas McLaurin-Moreno

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                          • #14
                            Looking forward to your further investigations, Multichrome! A lovely and meaningful pendant; I agree, a good chance it's a natural pearl.
                            Pattye


                            PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

                            facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

                            SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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                            • #15
                              Here are some natural light photos I took today after I removed the pearl from the setting. I weighed it, and it weighs .8 grams, and it is 9.5mm x 6.0mm. (I need to get out calipers for super precise measurement.)

                              It had a brief pure acetone bath to remove more glue from the end that the bead cap sits over. (I removed some remaining old glue from the bead cap, so it will now fit better when replaced.) Then it had gentle washing with a child’s soft toothbrush and diluted castile soap, and finally a distilled water rinse. To my surprise it’s a bit brighter. I guess I should not be surprised!

                              I need to learn to use my husband’s REAL camera for macro photos, but here are the photos I was able to take today. I used a lighted loupe to look into the hole to see if I could see a bead. It’s kinda dark in there—an ambery brown color. I may get out my light box and a strong LED to see if I can candle it, rather than having it x-rayed.

                              You can see which end was glued to the bead cap; it shows the wear. I’d be glad to tell you anything more about it that would help.

                              I appreciate your interest very much. I loved it anyway, but to learn more about it is really wonderful.




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