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  1. #1
    Lindawmn
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    Default Antique seed pearl necklace

    I have an opportunity to purchase an exquisite 1860s multiple strand seed pearl necklace from a private dealer. I have heard that the pearls themselves are 'good' for only about 150 years. Is this true and does this indicate these pearls will eventually break down? I've paid to have them appraised and they did do well, however I'm concerned as to whether these pearls will last long enough to give to my daughter when she's grown. Thanks in advance!


    Linda

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    A few questions first:

    What type of pearls are these? Where are they from? How has the age of the strand been determined? Is there any discoloration on the strand?
    You mentioned you had them appraised and they did well. This would not be a strand a jeweler would be able to accurately appraise unless they are truly a pearl specialist. This would be about 1 in 1000 in the US.

  3. #3
    Lindawmn
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    Default Antique pearl necklace

    I don't have the appraisal in my hands yet (done this past weekend and was mailed to me) however the appraiser I used specializes in antique jewelry. He told me over the phone they are natural fresh water pearls (necklace hails from the UK). There are 12 strands total, twisted into three groups of four if that makes sense. The reason I used a specialist in antique gems is because the clasp and decorative elements of the necklace contain Ceylon sapphires, 18K gold and rose-cut diamonds and it was important to me to authenticate the dating of the piece. I know that Europeans and the English used natural fresh-water pearls extensively during that time-frame and before. What I'm most concerned about is the normal life of a pearl. I don't want to have a pile of dust 20 years from now, though I know the gems won't deteriorate. The strands appear to have a nice lustre and are not darkening at all, they are a creamy color with some variation of course.

    Linda

  4. #4
    Zeide Erskine
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    Default English freshwater pearls

    Hi,

    I don't think you have to worry about your pearls too much. Actually, most of the famous pearls of crown jewel collections are indeed freshwater pearls and not saltwater as they are often declared to be. Freshwater pearls can be of varying quality, but so can saltwater. The preference of saltwater pearls hails back to George Frederik Kunz who proclaimed in his Book of the Pearl that they are rounder, harder, and more durable but only on his word. There is no scientific evidence to confirm that except some to the contrary. For most of history freshwater pearls were preferred probably because their higher manganese content makes them phosphorescent (glow in the dark). Freshwater pearls from high latitudes are also known for their luster maintenance. That means, when they dry out and get dull, they can simply be rehydrated and made lustrous again by wearing them (manganese-calcium compounds are hygroscopic). Although sodium chloride (salt) is also hygroscopic, there is no salt in saltwater pearls. Lower-manganese saltwater pearls thus do not glow in the dark, however, most natural (not cultured) saltwater pearls are estuary pearls that also have decent manganese contents. The ones from the Ganges delta can even have higher manganese contents than most freshwater pearls. If kept well, i.e. in a moist environment, your freshwater pearls can last millennia.

    Zeide G. Erskine
    Last edited by Zeide Erskine; 10-26-2006 at 01:24 AM.

  5. #5
    Lindawmn
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    Default English freshwater pearls

    Thanks so much for your reply! This is in all honesty, one of the most exquisite necklaces I've ever seen, and I've been collecting quite a while. I am the type that knows what I like, and this set, I like!

    Linda

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Wink

    And that is one of the most important things!

  7. #7
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    So, question to our pearly science guys; is any part of zeide's post horse-pooky?

    !if you have time to look, I don't know how busy you are right now!

  8. #8
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    Not sure about the zeide-science but if you google roman pearl earrings you'll discover that archaeologists have found several pearl jewellery items still in great condition. Pix in google images too (although there are lots of modern versions too)
    (If that necklace from 2006 was of uk origin I wonder if the clasp had a hallmark? Which would date the clasp, but not the pearls.

  9. #9
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Hi Wendy, thanks! I remember reading here that she allegedly translated and lifted from the Pearl, but don't know what she embellished. I have to get the book still.

    maybe we'll get lucky and the poster comes around here occasionally and will post a photo.

  10. #10
    Inactive Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Quote Originally Posted by lisa c View Post
    So, question to our pearly science guys; is any part of zeide's post horse-pooky?
    Let's discuss this question for a moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeide Erskine View Post
    Hi,

    Actually, most of the famous pearls of crown jewel collections are indeed freshwater pearls and not saltwater as they are often declared to be. Freshwater pearls can be of varying quality, but so can saltwater. The preference of saltwater pearls hails back to George Frederik Kunz who proclaimed in his Book of the Pearl that they are rounder, harder, and more durable but only on his word. There is no scientific evidence to confirm that except some to the contrary.
    Grading as we know it provides the market with rounder pearls from varied source pools. Every natural pearl found does not end up on the end of a chain or set in a bezel, so there is no possible way she could know what was rejected from harvested lots centuries ago.

    Pearls are like bones. The harder they are, the more brittle they become and that's because they contain less protein and more calcite. Pearls are 2.5 to 4.5 mohs, which is the single most widest margin for extra-crystalline structure among all of the gems. Given that point alone, there is no possible way that differences between SW or FW can be generalized in that manner. While softer pearls are more vulnerable to dents or scratches, they are actually more durable to shock forces than hard pearls which may otherwise crack or break.

    A perfect example for everyone to relate to are nuclei. Giant Clams (Tridacacna gigas) are too hard, Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) are too soft and as we all know freshwater Washboard Mussels (Megalonaias gigantean) are ideal, therefore the relationship between them is relative to species, not the presence or absence of a single chemical property.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeide Erskine View Post
    For most of history freshwater pearls were preferred probably because their higher manganese content makes them phosphorescent (glow in the dark). Freshwater pearls from high latitudes are also known for their luster maintenance. That means, when they dry out and get dull, they can simply be rehydrated and made lustrous again by wearing them (manganese-calcium compounds are hygroscopic). Although sodium chloride (salt) is also hygroscopic, there is no salt in saltwater pearls. Lower-manganese saltwater pearls thus do not glow in the dark, however, most natural (not cultured) saltwater pearls are estuary pearls that also have decent manganese contents.
    Nonsense on every level. "preferred probably" means perception upon assumption, not fact. First, phosphorescent is an ambiguous term. If she was as learned as she claims, she would have used the term chemiluminescence. In reality, even phosphorus is chemiluminescent in nature. The same ambiguity relates to bioluminescence, the emission of light by living organisms, namely plankton. Besides that, even in modern science, manganese content is neither mutually exclusive nor a collectively exhaustive factor in determining the aquatic origin of pearls. Annecdotal studies allude to slight elevations of manganese in FWP in broad terms, but it's definitely not the standard for individual pearls.

    Secondly, the parallel drawn between higher latitudes and luster is ridiculous. If this were true all of my boreal pearls would be lustrous and world class. In nearly every instance, luster is indirectly proportional to age of the mollusk, not it's ecology, range or distribution. Any subtle difference in the same species between regions is mainly relative to genetics, not environment.

    Lastly, most natural pearls being estuarine and having higher manganese content as a result is unfounded and/or over generalized. Truth being, natural pearls are collectively harvested from a multitude of zones, even though some regions may have predominance one way or the other. I will support this by suggesting that it's not necessarily water quality that matters, it's whether the species can survive being buried in sediments. Most pearl oysters and mussels are epifaunal. Meaning they live on the surface of the substrate, (ie) rocks, vegetation or on the sea floor and lake bottom. Clams, worms etc. are infaunal, living within the substrate.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zeide Erskine View Post
    The ones from the Ganges delta can even have higher manganese contents than most freshwater pearls. If kept well, i.e. in a moist environment, your freshwater pearls can last millennia.
    This makes no sense whatsoever. Any saltwater pearl from anywhere can have compounds higher or lower than freshwater or vice versa. She singled out a region, yet provided no supporting evidence. To boot, the second sentence implies that because of manganese, FWP kept in a moist environment will last virtually forever. There is no evidence of manganese as a preservative, no less "moist environment" is a poor usage of the term -relative humidity-, where only a narrow window of atmospheric conditions serve conservation well.
    Last edited by Lagoon Island Pearls; 10-20-2014 at 10:07 PM. Reason: word correction

  11. #11
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Yeah. Kinda what I thought, very sad on Zeide. It seemed off, but my knowledge isn't sufficient, I couldn't refute anything.

    Dave, you're the Greatest, and extremely generous with your time and knowledge. Thank you!

  12. #12
    Pearlista Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert GemGeek's Avatar
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    Oh, Dave, if only you were here when Zeide was pushing her special brand of BS...

  13. #13
    Inactive Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Thank you, ladies.

    I'm glad I came late to the party where Ms. Erskine is concerned. What few posts I've read by her appeared to be diatribes, not explanations or descriptions. She always seemed to instill an element of making something look good by making something else look bad. Fallacies, if you will. She could never get straight to the point in definitive terms, but instead used flowery language and paraphrases to express her obviously vivid imagination. The tactics of a used car salesman.

    It's all so sad, because she has a tremendous reverence for pearls. She had the pocket book to buy whatever pearls pleased her and read many books on the topic. It's too bad her ego drove the discussion, not her sincerity.

  14. #14
    Pearl Girl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Ashley's Avatar
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    Another fantastic post Dave, many thanks. You are so informative!
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