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  1. #1

    Default Help wanted - abalone pearls?

    Hi, I bought these earrings at a flea market. I love them, and have only recently wondered about possible value and origin.

    I did some rummaging online and wonder if the main stones are abalone pearls?

    The dark pearls are approx 20mm x 8mm (they have depth and protrude through the setting at the back)

    The larger white pearls are approx 5mm diameter (these sit flush in the setting)

    The smaller white pearls are tiny, approx 2mm

    All the stones have the gritty tooth test.

    The metal is .925 silver.

    Any thoughts please?

    Many thanks,

    Lis
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  2. #2
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Lis,
    Welcome to the forum. What a pretty pair of handmade earrings! The pearls are all freshwater pearls from China. The dark pearls are dyed and "bar" shape, sometimes also called "biwa" pearls. There doesn't appear to be any markings to tell where these might have been made, but possibly India, Bali or Thailand. Thank you for sharing!
    Pattye


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  3. #3
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Marianne's Avatar
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    I agree with Pattye's assessment. They are very pretty.

  4. #4

    Default Thank you - so knowledgeable!

    Quote Originally Posted by pattye View Post
    Lis,
    Welcome to the forum. What a pretty pair of handmade earrings! The pearls are all freshwater pearls from China. The dark pearls are dyed and "bar" shape, sometimes also called "biwa" pearls. There doesn't appear to be any markings to tell where these might have been made, but possibly India, Bali or Thailand. Thank you for sharing!
    Many thanks for the quick reply. Im always in awe when speaking to an expert on something we civilians sometimes think of as so generic, who can give such specific information. Its nice to know they are actually pearls and Im looking up info I can find online. If I have this right, true Biwa pearls originate from a specific lake, but general biwa pearls simply resemble these?

    Any value to them? I love them and wear them lots but should they be sitting around in my jewellery box?

  5. #5
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    True Biwa pearls came from Lake Biwa in Japan, which became contaminated by the 1970s and largely fell out of use for pearls.

    For decades now Chinese freshwater pearls of your sort have been marketed as "Biwa", even though they do not come from Lake Biwa. These are second-harvest pearls.

    Here is that process:

    For the first-harvest pearl, a Chinese freshwater mussel is grafted with a bit of donor mantle tissue (i.e. from another mussel). The tissue is placed in a slit in the mantle tissue of the host. The host is grafted with many pieces of donor tissue at the same time, on both halves of the shell. These bits of tissue each form a pearl sac, which secretes nacre, causing a pearl to form. The mussel is returned to the the water and in a few years, the mussel is removed from the water and the pearls are removed. These are the off-round freshwater pearls that one sees so commonly. Natural colors can include pink/peach, cream/white, and lavender. Some of these pearls are dyed to resemble black pearls, and some are dyed other colors.

    Now for the second harvest pearl, a nucleus is placed in the pearl sac after the pearl is removed. It may be any shape-- a bar shape, a coin shape, a star-- whatever. The mussel is returned to the water and nacre is laid down over the nucleus. The second-harvest pearl will have the shape of the nucleus.

    While these are attractive and fun to wear, they do not have great value. You can absolutely keep them in your jewelry box!

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