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  1. #1

    Default mystery pearls from India

    I am happy to have found this forum as we have a pearl necklace and are in need of information and advice. This necklace was given to my mother-in-law in the late 50's or early 60's while she was living in India. They were in the green case as shown, but it doesn't seem to be the right case for them as the necklace is longer than the space for it. The 75 pearl necklace measures approx. 18" in graduating sizes from about 4mm-11/12mm. The clasp is gold but I see no marking of any kind. Her estate is being settled and these may be sold but we know nothing about them or their value. I had them looked at by an antique dealer who deals with jewelry and he declared them to be fakes but we are not so sure about that. From my unknowing eye, I can see some have greater luster than others, all are not perfectly round or even the exact same color. I have not been able to really find any information about pearls from India at that time. We live far from a major city so I have been searching online. I can take other photos if need be.

    I would welcome any information or suggestions as to value, etc.

    Thank you,
    Susan
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  2. #2
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Hi Susan
    Pearls bought in India can come from almost anywhere else. I think India is the world's biggest pearl magnet. If you don't have an idea of what they cost, I think you may need to get them certified. They are either fake, cultured or natural. But first, try these ideas:

    Try the tooth test. It may help, it may not. Rub two pearls together or against a tooth. Are they very fine gritty or are they smooth?

    I think the jeweler was going by the fact the gold isn't marked. so it needs to be determined if the clasp is gold and what carat gold if it is.

    If you can borrow a loupe or a large strong magnifier and look at the holes. Are any of the pearls chipped around the hole? If so, what is underneath? Is it plastic, mother of pearl, or more layers of pearl? Dose the nacre pile up a bit around the holes?

    I can tell at lot about pearls by the weight in my hand, and even the sound when they click against each other. Fake plastic coated pearls are too light and they don't clink, they click lightly. Some very high quality fake pearls are too heavy because they have glass bead centers. they sound like glass when they clink.

    Ps How about a couple more pictures really close up, like set the camera on Macro i f you can.
    Last edited by Caitlin; 07-30-2007 at 09:05 PM.
    Caitlin

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  3. #3
    Valeria101
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    No expert here... but the pictures at least seem interesting: no easy call for 'fake' or not... The pearls seem to have varying overtones and be just enough off round so that they do not seem clearly fake. For what I know, they may be early cultured or natural - either way sounds great.

    There is at least one other thread going on right now about an intriguing, possibly natural strand that is pending certification. I would think that is what you may want to do with yours.

    Maybe they are fake, or cultured, but if natural, they would be really fine. So much so, that I'd be telling the story of this thread to everyone who might want to hear it

    Fingers crossed!

  4. #4

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    thanks for the thoughts. I will try to take some more "macro" shots and even of the holes if I can. I did the rubbing together and "tooth" test and they are gritty, not smooth. Are there visual clues as to the differences between natural pearls vs cultured pearls? If not, how does one tell for sure?

    Susan

  5. #5
    Valeria101
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    Quote Originally Posted by SusanPatt
    Are there visual clues as to the differences between natural pearls vs cultured pearls?
    Sort of, but this is really not positive, fool proof identification... almost never (thinking of pictures, and keeping it real'). For example, wouldn't expect natural pearls to be perfectly round - geometrically speaking, would expect some visibly not round pearls in a strand.. some marks perhaps. Various colors of overtone as opposed to the closely matched ones in cultured strands. The age, presentation, clasp... all add up clues. But....

    Clearly, the more 'confusing' pearls are the highest quality - i.e. the really, really rare and valuable that tend to be rounder (although not ball-bearing round) and better matched. E.g. 6mm is 'large' already for a round natural pearl.

    Besides as said, I am no expert. Obviously, some are able to tell more from images, and this is not a definitive form of identification for anyone at all.

    I usually err on the optimistic side: if there's no strong reason to believe the pearls are cultured ... why not hope . Although certification is not free and not terribly inexpensive either. This is your call.

    For the ones you have posted, the size seems quite darn large for natural pearls. Not impossible, but improbable, however. As far as I know... and I do not know their background.


    Quote Originally Posted by SusanPatt
    If not, how does one tell for sure?
    That's what gemological laboratories do: provide identification reports. Such 'paper' from a top lab would prove to you and anyone else what the pearls are. So that the item can be later evaluated etc.

    Aparently, it is a $150 question - i.e. the cost of AGTA's ID for such a strand (details HERE). There are other major labs too, of course.

    You must have seen THIS thread with a similar discussion already.

    My 2c
    Last edited by Valeria101; 07-31-2007 at 09:13 AM.

  6. #6

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    Here are a few more photos showing the hole on several as well as close up of a few pearls. I also need to correct the size of the pearls. The largest is closer to 8.5mm. Someone in the family recalls hearing that they were cultured pearls, but nobody really knows anything concrete about them beyond "they were a gift" and have been boxed for the past 50 or so years.

    It sounds like having them looked at would be the best choice, but having no feel for "value", we must decide if spending in the range of $150 is worth it.

    I appreciate all the input and suggestions.

    Susan
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  7. #7
    Valeria101
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    Great pictures!.... that seem to show a nucleus peekin from beneath peeling nacre - not unusual for older Akoya. That the strand was strung without knots may have helped the process. But again, I could be seeing things all along!

  8. #8
    Administrator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Kevin Canning's Avatar
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    I dunno, the fact they are strung without knots and that you can see the nacre chipping to reveal what looks like a bead, points towards old, not so valuable cultured pearls. Although the color seems to light yellow almost champagne , while there was plenty of older Akoya's that were cream in color, they weren't that yellow. It could be lighting and or camera though, so its hard to say.


    Bottom line is I do not think they are natural pearls and anything less then that in this instance is not going to be worth sending them out for inspection.
    Last edited by Kevin Canning; 08-01-2007 at 06:31 PM.
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  9. #9

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    thanks to all for the thoughts, imput, suggestions, etc. Based on my readings on Pearl-Guide, I contacted Sharon Wakefield with some photos. Her response was that the photos indicated to her that this strand does look like older simulated pearls with a brass clasp--not unusual for India. This is based largely on the detail photos of the drill holes. Of course, this is a guesstimate without seeing or handling the necklace. Combined with your posts, this at least indicates no real need to invest in any further examination. I think a family member loves how they look so they can be a nice gift.

    thanks again. I have a new interest and respect for pearls!
    Susan