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  1. #1

    Default Blockchain authenticity of Pearls

    With cultured diamonds being introduced to the industry just recently, it will eventually have an impact on the cultured pearls that have been in the market since the 1920s. Unlike cultured diamond, every pearl is different, it comes from a living thing with a different DNA from the next.

    Isn't there a need for the pearl industry to have blockchain technology that can keep track of the source of origin, color, nacre size, and DNA? Pearls can be different from cultured diamonds because every pearl is unique, there can be a chain of custody certificate of the pearl. You are able to determine if a pearl is stolen and which farm it's coming from based on the blockchain ID. This is something unique that cultured diamonds will not be able to do.

    As James Brown from Pearls of Australia puts it, "Consumers are looking for authenticity."

    This is the method of DNA fingerprinting that can be implemented, and the DNA results can be searched against the blockchain to determine if it's the right pearl using PCR in gem or pearl stores: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3794040/

  2. #2
    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    Hello dobo, and welcome to our community.
    This is quite an interesting article! And the team at Basel has been working on even more species...I was in charge of supplying them with the "Mexican Black Lip" (Pinctada mazatlanica) and "Rainbow Lip" (Pteria sterna) tissues, shells and pearls required for DNA analysis.
    There have been times when some in the industry have felt the need to authenticate or -more so- establish the Provenance of some pearls, especially those that have a -let's call it this way, a "pedigree"- such as the pearls from Margarita island (Columbus pearls), Basra pearls, Sea of Cortez and even Biwa pearls, and they have resorted to certificates on paper or even laser tattoos or UV-inking. They all work to a certain point of course.
    A DNA analysis will of course help but it will be costly, and I imagine useful for just a few pearls at a time, think of famous pearls like "The Hope Pearl", "La Peregrina", "The Big Lemmon" and such. I don't foresee this technique used on the let's say 1,500 metric tons of yearly pearl production in China. It will be used on certain farms on a limited number of Gem grade pearls.
    What does the community think? Let's start talking!
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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  3. #3

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    Hi CortezPearls, thanks for the warm introduction.

    DNA analysis can be quite costly but protocols can be written to make the process cheaper. Just like when COVID testing started, the prices were around $300 per test, but that has greatly reduced. Now it's hovering around $90, with the most famous Yale protocol dropping to around $5 per test: https://yalehealth.yale.edu/covid-19-testing My dream would be to have this accessible to every hobbyist or bio-hacker at home, just like when the PC was developed in the 80s. Hopefully, it will get there after COVID.

    I imagine laser tattoos or UV-inking would be just as expensive if not even more expensive. And those are easily faked. Whereas, there is no way to fake a pedigree test found in every part of the pearl. And there is no way to store anything that unique in a diamond.

    For the Chinese pearls, even if they did certify it, I don't think the value would change. Whereas like you said the Columbus pearls or the Sea of Cortez pearls are rare, and like wine produced at a certain time, with a very unique oyster. There might be mass productions, but they would need hundreds of pearls to get the same exact color pair or size which makes it extremely rare.

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    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    Or you can buy from someone who knows their stuff and maybe buys direct? I suspect part of your need for all this is that consumer law starts from a different perspective here in Europe. Here we have a legal obligation to be truthful about any descriptions we give to products, and be prepared to prove it should Trading Standards call. So certificates of authenticity (which, if you think about it, don't really prove anything because a liar's gonna lie) are not necessary or given routinely by most jewellers. Law and reputation suffice.
    I emphasise that this applies only to European sellers (or those of us who will still be obeying European law after the UK completely loses the plot on Jan 1)
    Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021
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    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearlescence View Post
    Or you can buy from someone who knows their stuff and maybe buys direct? I suspect part of your need for all this is that consumer law starts from a different perspective here in Europe. Here we have a legal obligation to be truthful about any descriptions we give to products, and be prepared to prove it should Trading Standards call. So certificates of authenticity (which, if you think about it, don't really prove anything because a liar's gonna lie) are not necessary or given routinely by most jewellers. Law and reputation suffice.
    I emphasise that this applies only to European sellers (or those of us who will still be obeying European law after the UK completely loses the plot on Jan 1)
    Yes. And this is what many jewelers are doing these days, such as those vendors promoting "Ethical Jewelry", "Sustainable Pearls" or "Fair Trade Gems": they will head out to a given farm and buy directly from them, under a pledge that those pearls are indeed produced at the given site and under the said "blue" (a term more used for a sustainable sea-based operation, as opposed to the "green" for land-based ops) protocols.
    A lot of trust goes on there...but trust goes both ways and both the producer and the vendor must have a win-win situation for this system to work, and ultimately...both must gain the trust of the final buyer. Certificates will be issued of course, but it is just like a national coin/currency: it's ultimate worth is based upon trust.

    I am hoping that like dodo said: the price of DNA tests will improve over time and will help alleviate some of these doubts, and these originate due to lack of trust. So, in the end it is a Billy Joel said: "It's a matter of trust".
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by CortezPearls View Post
    Yes. And this is what many jewelers are doing these days, such as those vendors promoting "Ethical Jewelry", "Sustainable Pearls" or "Fair Trade Gems": they will head out to a given farm and buy directly from them, under a pledge that those pearls are indeed produced at the given site and under the said "blue" (a term more used for a sustainable sea-based operation, as opposed to the "green" for land-based ops) protocols.
    A lot of trust goes on there...but trust goes both ways and both the producer and the vendor must have a win-win situation for this system to work, and ultimately...both must gain the trust of the final buyer. Certificates will be issued of course, but it is just like a national coin/currency: it's ultimate worth is based upon trust.

    I am hoping that like dodo said: the price of DNA tests will improve over time and will help alleviate some of these doubts, and these originate due to lack of trust. So, in the end it is a Billy Joel said: "It's a matter of trust".
    Dobo not DODO. The city of Dobo started its economy in 1850s by trading pearls: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics...inctada-maxima

    This is a Mini DNA sequencer, and gone are the days that sequencing would require layers of gel scanned into a PC: https://nanoporetech.com/products/minion

    Of-course there are the other more expensive ones like the Illumina Miseq that my lab uses but it's not very portable or cheap. And it requires very trained technicians to operate it.

    In terms of blockchain, there are really three approaches:

    1. Store it on the Bitcoin chain
    2. Create a side chain with Ethereum
    3. Create a new algorithm just for handling of Pearls. But this would require an agreement from the large producers in the world on the qualities that we want to record, as well as the function of such a chain??

    Is it simply to verify? Or are we using it to trade as well? What happens if you lose the passwords to one of this certificate? Pearls can last forever but USB, computers, passwords, hard disk changes every 1-2 years.
    Last edited by dobo; 11-03-2020 at 03:53 PM.

  7. #7
    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobo View Post
    Dobo not DODO.

    In terms of blockchain, there are really three approaches:
    1. Store it on the Bitcoin chain
    2. Create a side chain with Ethereum
    3. Create a new algorithm just for handling of Pearls. But this would require an agreement from the large producers in the world on the qualities that we want to record, as well as the function of such a chain??

    Is it simply to verify? Or are we using it to trade as well? What happens if you lose the passwords to one of this certificate? Pearls can last forever but USB, computers, passwords, hard disk changes every 1-2 years.
    Sorry for the typo dobo! My speller acting up!
    Some of the things you mentioned flew over my mind...when you mentioned Bitcoin, for instance...I started thinking of a possible economic reboot and a new Breton Woods pact. Obviously, there is no connection there...is it? Hope not!
    The technicalities are the things that companies will have to sort out to vendors/producers in order for them to just be able to certificate their DNA.

    But these are really interesting times! Glad you shared this new information with us at the forum

    So there you go Pearl-Lovers...we might be witnessing a change in the way we can identify our pearls...forget about an RFID chip inside the pearl or a laser-etched tattoo...DNA is the way.
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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  8. #8

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    This is the trend at the moment, and I think it's something that honestly all pearl collectors should demand for because the security and trust is built into the pearl. And that separates it from a diamond or a Chinese pearl.

  9. #9
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    I can see that this would be useful for the more expensive pearls that gain value from their origin. I get so tired of every seller saying their White South Sea are Australian... but can't back it up.

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    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    It's a nice thought but I've been asked about pearl origins maybe once a year.
    Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021
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    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearlescence View Post
    It's a nice thought but I've been asked about pearl origins maybe once a year.
    Yes Pearlescence: most people will not care, especially if this test or certificate will add a cost to heir pearl...but it will be a niche market tool for those very special pearls.
    But it is good to have the option finally
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Lady_Disdain's Avatar
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    As in any commercial venture, the question becomes: "does this add more value than cost?" In my guess, it will only add value to the top of the crop of some specific pearl types and for some clients only. Will that value be enough to pay for the entire system?

    We can see it in coloured gemstones. $5k and over stones are still without lab reports or with dubious reports. It sounds awful to the specialists but many customers don't care that much or understand enough about treatments, etc to care.

  13. #13
    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    My first and foremost thought was for NATURAL PEARLS. Adding the cost of $300 dollars for a $10K pearl is quite satisfactory and gives you peace of mind!
    Last edited by CortezPearls; 11-06-2020 at 08:58 PM. Reason: typo
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by CortezPearls View Post
    My first and foremost thought was for NATURAL PEARLS. Adding the cost of $300 dollars for a $10K pearl is quite satisfactory and gives you peace of mind!
    I suspect it would help the resale value as well.

  15. #15

    Default Akoya or Freshwater pearls?

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    Hi! I would like to ask about the pearl I have bought in a thrift shop. It has silver clasp with markings SIL & M.
    I wonder if it is akoya pearl or fresh water pearl? Also if this is a vintage piece because it looks a bit old to me. Thank you In advance!
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