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  1. #1

    Default Question about overtones

    Hello all! I hope everyone's enjoying their Christmas/holiday break if you had one

    My little vintage akoyas (1930s-1940s) have unmatched overtones of green and red on a cream body, but there are a few that seem to reflect an extra color under natural light. It's subtle yet nevertheless visible without having to hold them close up to your eyes, whereas the green/red hues are really only visible to me in photos or close inspection. The green ones tend to reflect a pink light, and the red pearls tend to reflect a blue-aqua light.

    It's not like the rainbow iridescence, however, that I see from online photos of some modern akoyas (e.g. Hanadamas). Is there any name for this colored light reflection, or is it merely a continuation of the green/red overtones? Or perhaps the pink/blue reflections are visible because the akoyas are losing layers of the whiter nacre?

    It's hard to capture the "extra" colors unless the photo is blurry (hope it doesn't make your eyes hurt - I think it's a bit like an early Gerhard Richter painting). The photos are unedited for color, merely cropped for a closeup and taken inside by a window in natural morning light on an overcast winter day.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
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  2. #2
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    Lovely orient! The play of colors happens because of the diffraction and refraction of light between the layers of the nacre.

  3. #3
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Dec 2005


    Mariepearl, how interesting! There is no way to tell from a photo, but I wonder if your pearls escaped being bleached and pinked like most Akoyas? Are they baroque or round? What size? They may have extra thick nacre, too. Please, if possible, add a photo of the pearls "in focus" so we can admire them!


  4. #4


    Orient - that's it, thank you! I had read about orient on the forum about that but didn't think it was an akoya thing. That's good to know because there was a part of me worried that maybe the outer whiter nacre layers were thinning, having read an article by a Japanese pearl distributor that "But the thicker the nacre, the more dull the luster. So you can see South-Sea pearls are [sic] not shine like Japanese Akoya." The majority of the pearls on my neckalce with orient are the tiny 3-4mm pearls, which I thought had been left in the oyster for less time.

    edit for a question - is orient on akoyas the same as the aurora effect? I just saw an article on that on a vendor's website when I was shopping around for hanadamas.
    Last edited by mariepearl; 12-31-2020 at 11:13 AM.

  5. #5


    Hi Pattye, I'd be curious to see unbleached akoyas. Mine aren't as lovely white as the modern hanadamas I've seen online, but they're pale enough that I imagine they've been treated too. The ones I've photographed are the 3-4mm ones near the clasp, not baroque but roundish. I posted photos of my necklace when I first joined the forum a few years ago, but deleted them, so here are more focused close-ups if you're interested. I used a "hack" to get the colors to show up, and it kind of worked! It's a sunny day, so while blocking the light coming in the window by leaning over the pearls, my hair fell into the shot by accident and took the focus of the photo. But I noticed that suddenly the colors showed up on camera (at least to my eyes) despite the pearls not being the camera's focus. The photo with my earring and hair in there worked even better - the earring pearl's body color, which has far more orient despite looking flat grey on the photo, brings out the akoyas' orient. The akoyas are out of focus again, but still sharp enough to see both the pearl AND the colors. Maybe this is helpful for anyone else who wants to try to photograph their pearls' orient?

    Attachment 76981

    Attachment 76982
    Last edited by mariepearl; 12-31-2020 at 11:18 AM.

  6. #6
    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico


    The attachments are not there MariePearl
    Could you please try again?
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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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.
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  7. #7


    I tried again, but perhaps the attachments are too large? Here's an album of the closeups that I hope works, plus a neck photo.

    The colors are easier to see on the tiny pearls near the clasp, whereas the it's far more hard to see with the largest ones on the strands AND very few of the larger pearls have the orient at all. In total, it's all rather subtle and goes largely away when worn.

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