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  1. #1

    Default Cultured South Sea Pearls. Will they last?

    Hi everybody!

    Just want to enquire before I make my first cultured South sea pearl purchase. Do they last? I am planning on buying a ring with a cultuted south sea pearl. Someone informed me that cultuted south sea pearl jewellery cannot last forever. Is this true?

    I'm wondering cause I've seen and read in news about cultuted south sea pearl jewellery being auctioned in Christie's and Sotheby's. Plus royals and other personalities that have inherited them. So I'm confused.

    Help please

  2. #2
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    pcaspian,

    Welcome! How long pearls "last" is mostly a result of how they are cared for and worn. Cultured South Sea pearls generally have thick nacre. So that is a big advantage to start with. Are you planning to wear the ring every day? How large a pearl do you want? Do you already have pearl jewelry?
    Pattye


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    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Hi pcaspian,

    The answer is both yes and no. Cultured south sea pearls have very thick nacre, about 1-2 millimeters per side (so a 12mm diameter pearl would have 2-4mm of nacre), so it is not going to wear away in your lifetime, or the lifetime of whoever you leave it to.

    That said, pearls are organic gems with a relatively soft surface, 2.5 on the moh scale. They can be easily scratched, and should be stored away from other jewelry. Furthermore, a pearl ring (or bracelet) is much more likely to be dinged or scratched than a pearl necklace or earrings. If you are very concerned about durability, consider buying pearls in some setting other than a ring.

    However, the way I see it, nothing lasts forever. But that doesn't mean I can't wear my jewelry and enjoy it.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by pattye View Post
    pcaspian,

    Welcome! How long pearls "last" is mostly a result of how they are cared for and worn. Cultured South Sea pearls generally have thick nacre. So that is a big advantage to start with. Are you planning to wear the ring every day? How large a pearl do you want? Do you already have pearl jewelry?
    Hi! Thank you so much for the reply. Yes! I plan to wear them everyday. But now, I'm not sure if I should get one. Because I want to be able to pass it down to the next generation.

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    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    The next generation may not want it! My daughter only likes a few of my pearls and has no interest in all the others.

  6. #6

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    Thank you so much for the reply. Most informative. My main concern is, I want to be able to pass it down to the generations to come. I currently have a 5 ct diamond ring with me that has been passed down to 4 generations from my family, old European cut too And I want to be able to do that as well if I buy a South sea pearl but now I'm having second thoughts. But thank you for your reply. I was going to put it as a ring and use it everyday just like my ring.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by pattye View Post
    pcaspian,

    Welcome! How long pearls "last" is mostly a result of how they are cared for and worn. Cultured South Sea pearls generally have thick nacre. So that is a big advantage to start with. Are you planning to wear the ring every day? How large a pearl do you want? Do you already have pearl jewelry?
    Also I was planning on getting a cultured South sea pearl around 12mm but nothing more than 13

  8. #8
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    While wearing pearl rings you also need to be aware of any chemicals they may come in contact with. Don't rub it with Purell!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
    While wearing pearl rings you also need to be aware of any chemicals they may come in contact with. Don't rub it with Purell!
    Yes! That's noted.. I was Googling but can anyone tell me how is it the there are Pearl jewellery in museums that are more than a century old yet still look fine? Are they fragile already and can't be worn?

    Also, royal families have pearl jewellery that have been inherited from more than 2 generations how come those are still fine and still last? How can I make a cultured South sea pearl last like that?

  10. #10
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
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    Earrings or a necklace or pendant will most likely last longer than a ring that is worn everyday, because hands rub or bang into so many things. A ring that is worn more for special occasions will last longer.

    My grandmother's akoya necklace had much thinner nacre than SS pearls, and she wore that necklace every day, and then I wore it every day for a total of 60 years. The pearls were getting a bit worn looking after that. SS pearls should last longer because they have thicker nacre. But I don't think a SS ring that is worn every day is going to look like it did when it was new if you plan to pass it down generations. However, I wouldn't worry about generations to come. Get what you like and wear the heck out of it right now.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by BWeaves View Post
    Earrings or a necklace or pendant will most likely last longer than a ring that is worn everyday, because hands rub or bang into so many things. A ring that is worn more for special occasions will last longer.

    My grandmother's akoya necklace had much thinner nacre than SS pearls, and she wore that necklace every day, and then I wore it every day for a total of 60 years. The pearls were getting a bit worn looking after that. SS pearls should last longer because they have thicker nacre. But I don't think a SS ring that is worn every day is going to look like it did when it was new if you plan to pass it down generations. However, I wouldn't worry about generations to come. Get what you like and wear the heck out of it right now.
    Would you by any chance have a photo of your akoya? I just want to see how a worn out pearl looks like.

  12. #12
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Lady_Disdain's Avatar
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    I don't think an antique pearl is any indicator of how a pearl today will wear over the years.

    First, the museum pearl is a natural pearl, not a cultured pearl.

    Second, it was probably not worn everyday but put on for a party or dinner then carefully stored. It would not be proper to wear a large pearl at every occasion. Even if it had been worn every day, the lifestyle was very different. She would be wearing it in a drawing room or around her house but it wouldn't be exposed to hard knocks, chemicals, etc.

  13. #13
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    pcaspian, with akoyas the nacre can wear entirely off the bead, so that the bead is exposed. This is more likely to happen if the nacre is thin to begin with, as was the case with many akoyas imported in the 1970s; the pearls were being harvested after too short a time. Alternatively very old akoya pearls (which tended to have thicker nacre than many akoyas sold today) sometimes became a bit barrel-shaped.

    Why the wear? Pearls worn as a necklace are in contact with skin, which is acidic. They are also exposed to the general pollution in the air. If one has been careless and sprayed on perfume or hair products while wearing pearls, this is also damaging. Pearls should always be the last thing one puts on. I like to also wipe my pearls gently with a damp microfiber cloth before putting them away, to remove salt/sweat/skin oils, etc.

    SSP have significantly thicker nacre than akoyas, so you would not expect that kind of extreme wear to happen. Pearls set in a ring would not be in much contact with skin.

    Reasons why museum pearls may still look good:
    • Some of the pearls in museums are natural pearls, rather than cultured. No bead inside.
    • While cities probably smelled worse due to lack of sanitation, the air was probably cleaner.
    • There was no hair spray, and most perfume was dabbed on.
    • Royals had servants to do their hard work/cleaning.
    • Even in the case of less old/cultured pearls, the ones in museums are the ones that survived whatever was done with them.

  14. #14
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member
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    Honestly, if my mother had a 5 ct diamond ring and a SS pearl ring to hand down, I'd be very disappointed if I got the pearl, and I love pearls. They're just not comparable and pearls don't really hold their value as well.
    Last edited by Parrot Lady; 09-30-2018 at 06:30 AM.

  15. #15
    Pearl Journalist Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Octavia's Mom's Avatar
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    I bought a fabulous south sea pearl ring and promptly bumped the pearl against something and a big divot of nacre came out. I was shocked. I didn't bump it hard, but the nacre was soft. It ruined the ring and I ended up replacing the pearl with a colored metallic freshwater pearl.

    Just an FYI. No pearl ring can be expected to be passed down through generations, although some do last that long. Some pearls are remarkably tough and some wear easily and end up with a pattern of scratches. You can't be sure before you purchase. As the others have said, buy and enjoy!

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