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  1. #1

    Default For exceptionally valuable pearls, are they more valuable drilled or undrilled?

    I'm not sure where to put this, so I'll just put it here.

    I've been tossing around a hypothetical question this evening. I remember when Paspaley grew their massive pearl a few years back. To my recollection, it was undrilled. There are essentially three things that can be done with a pearl: string it, put a post in it, or simply have it in a collection "as is". These choices require a through-hole, a partial hole, and no hole respectively (although in the case of the latter, one may of course, keep a pearl in a collection unused while still having been drilled).

    The run-of-the-mill pearl is not worth that much on its own. My question is for the truly exceptional pearl. Once a pearl has been drilled it can never be undrilled, so it seems that an undrilled pearl would be worth more. However, when a pearl is drilled, there is risk of chipping. So an undrilled $500,000 pearl can turn into a worthless pile of shards, yet a pearl of the same characteristics that has been drilled can be worn. This is all complicated by the fact that those with a pearl worth $500,000 probably don't want to wear it, but would rather keep it in a collection.

    So, intuitively it seems that when talking about the very valuable pearl, that which is undrilled would be worth more. Is this true?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Mostawesomecoffee; 03-13-2019 at 04:28 AM.

  2. #2
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Andrew M's Avatar
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    I'm no industry expert by any means, but I'd assume that, especially when you're talking about something simple, an undrilled pearl -- theoretically -- holds more value than any drilled one, especially when taken into account that the person buying it may be buying it to have it drilled... which of course presents more options when undrilled.

    Now, I think your question might be more complicated if we drill and include this hypothetical pearl in a piece of high-jewelry, and not just a simple pendant or something like that. If we surround our pearl with a bunch of diamonds and other exceptional pearls, I suspect that the pearl may be contributing more value to the piece than it would have, say, have value just by itself. I don't know this for a fact, of course; it's just my guess.

  3. #3
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Since this is all theoretical, what if we have 3 huge gem quality pearls all of exceptional roundness, size, luster, with one being undrilled, one being half drilled, and one being full drilled. Which do you think would be the most valuable? As we know, appraised value doesn't equate to what a pearl would actually sell for. What part does provenance play?
    Pattye


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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    The most valuable pearls are always undrilled. Once a pearl has been drilled, it can only be used in a finite number of ways and with a certain type of jewelry or setting. If you had a super-valuable pearl that was accidentally drilled, it would destroy most of the value if it were to be sold as a single, fine pearl.

    There was once a high-value strand of pearls in our vault that we had imported in for a client to view. It was only a mock up, which is how super-high value strands of Tahitians and South Sea are typically sent to us because they are hand-matched from loose, special pearls. I had matched a bunch of strands the week before and left them in the vault in the same area where the mock up was. Yuan, our in-house knotter and pearl driller, saw them and took it upon herself to drill all the strands. She accidentally drilled the mock up as well, thinking it was part of the lot I had matched.

    That strand sold (thankfully). If it hadn't, we would have been on the hook for a strand of pearls that cost us around $50,000. Once we drill, we own the strand. There is no going back.

  5. #5
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
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    You can always put an undrilled pearl in a cage setting, so you can wear it as a pendant, but never drill it.

  6. #6

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    I guess "undrilled" is the most valuable. Thanks!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jshepherd View Post
    The most valuable pearls are always undrilled. Once a pearl has been drilled, it can only be used in a finite number of ways and with a certain type of jewelry or setting. If you had a super-valuable pearl that was accidentally drilled, it would destroy most of the value if it were to be sold as a single, fine pearl.

    There was once a high-value strand of pearls in our vault that we had imported in for a client to view. It was only a mock up, which is how super-high value strands of Tahitians and South Sea are typically sent to us because they are hand-matched from loose, special pearls. I had matched a bunch of strands the week before and left them in the vault in the same area where the mock up was. Yuan, our in-house knotter and pearl driller, saw them and took it upon herself to drill all the strands. She accidentally drilled the mock up as well, thinking it was part of the lot I had matched.

    That strand sold (thankfully). If it hadn't, we would have been on the hook for a strand of pearls that cost us around $50,000. Once we drill, we own the strand. There is no going back.
    Wow, that sounds stressful.

  8. #8
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jshepherd View Post
    The most valuable pearls are always undrilled. Once a pearl has been drilled, it can only be used in a finite number of ways and with a certain type of jewelry or setting. If you had a super-valuable pearl that was accidentally drilled, it would destroy most of the value if it were to be sold as a single, fine pearl.

    There was once a high-value strand of pearls in our vault that we had imported in for a client to view. It was only a mock up, which is how super-high value strands of Tahitians and South Sea are typically sent to us because they are hand-matched from loose, special pearls. I had matched a bunch of strands the week before and left them in the vault in the same area where the mock up was. Yuan, our in-house knotter and pearl driller, saw them and took it upon herself to drill all the strands. She accidentally drilled the mock up as well, thinking it was part of the lot I had matched.

    That strand sold (thankfully). If it hadn't, we would have been on the hook for a strand of pearls that cost us around $50,000. Once we drill, we own the strand. There is no going back.
    I gasped out loud reading this. I had to tell those around me everything's alright... what a story!

  9. #9
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Oh wow Jeremy, you must have been close to a heart attack !

  10. #10
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert amti's Avatar
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    I'm so glad the strand sold!!!

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