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  1. #1
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    Default A Question about Tahitian/South Sea Blemishes

    I just had a question about a type of blemish found on the tahitian and south sea pearls and I was hoping the experts would weigh in. Unfortunately I dont have a photo. The blemish looks almost like file/polish mark. I've seen it on all types of South Sea/Tahitian pearls, sometimes its a small area, some times its half the pearl. When theres a lot and its very fine it makes the surface almost look smoky. I was told its a natural blemish that only happens on south sea and tahitian pearls, but I'm just suspicious of it because if I file a pearl and polish it, it looks pretty close.

  2. #2
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    While I'm not an expert I know from pearls I own that the same type of blemishing occurs in freshwaters.

    It's called 'banding' if it's wider than a line, and more or less encircles the pearl, and alters the appearance of the reflection of light off the surface. I think it's just called a 'blemish' if it doesn't do any circling.

    Are you asking if it's an indication that someone sanded off blemishes? No. While I've read/heard some small degree of 'doctoring' may go on occasionally to improve the appearance of a pearl, 'banding' is a natural occurance. It occurs as the mollusk lays down its layers of conchiolin and aragonite. The appearance of smokiness is a result of how light reflects off the layers.

    It's not considered desirable; as you can see, it doesn't enhance the appearance of the pearl, so there'd be no reason to take the time to do any sanding of it. While not desirable, it's one of those things that just is, and really matters more when you're talking grading and pricing and buying pearls.

    Do you mean there are multiple sanded-looking areas on one pearl?

    Also I want to remind readers to look at the bottom of these pages. There's a 'similar threads' area that's useful once a thread question is posed, really cool fun stuff!

    Experts, of course, please make any corrections if needed.
    Last edited by lisa c; 04-18-2012 at 03:58 PM. Reason: Grammar

  3. #3
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Derek, check out the thread I just gave a bump to, 'Natural pearls fetch high prices at auction'.

    It has an excellent picture of the kind of banding you're talking about. It's perhaps more on the extreme end of banding examples, but good for teaching. The banding you've seen is probably not as pronounced.

    Also if you are interested, use the search bar above to check for more ' banding ' posts.
    Last edited by lisa c; 04-18-2012 at 01:53 AM.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the response.

    To be honest, I wasn't sure what to call that type of blemish. I think that may be what I'm seeing. If I get a chance to take a photo of it I will and post it here to confirm it.

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    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Derek, thanks, that would be great! If you haven't photographed pearls before, PG has a thread with 'how to' recommendations, under the Forum 'Other Stuff', called 'Taking pictures of pearl jewelry'.

    Hey, I should've done my homework and checked out your profile before I answered your question! I answered you as if you were a neophyte and no doubt you know MUUUUUCH more than I. My apologies . Boy, do I feel stupid, and thanks for your forebearance.
    Last edited by lisa c; 04-18-2012 at 02:31 AM.

  6. #6
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    Don't worry about it, I appreciate the response. I would say I'm still learning despite my education. I know the basics about pearls but I'm trying to expand my knowledge beyond the basic gemmology textbooks.

  7. #7
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Josh's Avatar
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    Lisa, I thought your answer was spot on, well thought out and helpful, especially sending readers to the links at the bottom (something I forget about myself). We are all expanding our knowledge of pearls, no matter where we are on our pearly roads.
    Josh Humbert
    Pearl farmer and Tahitian pearl farming consultant.
    www.kamokapearls.com
    FB: http://www.facebook.com/Kamokapearls
    @KamokaJosh

  8. #8
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert KarinK's Avatar
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    Lisa, I didn't even know there were links to connected threads at the bottom

    - Karin

  9. #9
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Josh, you're always so sweet to me (and everyone else), thanks for letting me know I did ok. I only edited it about twenty times!!!
    Derek, thanks for your nice response.
    Hi Karin! Almost-pajama-party-mate I'd say don't get lost in those links, but I know you're a real focused person!

    Yes, that'll be my short term mission, reminding people that they can rate threads (look up on the page)
    And read old posts (look down)
    Last edited by lisa c; 04-18-2012 at 11:02 PM.

  10. #10
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    Heres photo of the blemish I'm talking about. The one where its really fine, may be hard to see.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  11. #11
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    I see it, it cups the curve, as if one had dipped it. Excellent photograph, you caught a shot right at the boundary, catching the change in luster from sharp to what I call frosty.

    In the 'banding' on my pearls however, the surface doesn't look scratched, or I guess what you'd call 'etched' or 'ground', if it were a glass surface. Glass can be etched with chemicals.

    Also, the line of demarcation isn't so definite or crisp. With 'banding' you can tell it's an optical effect, not physical polishing or scratching of the pearl's surface. Even with some of my bicolor pearls, like peach and blue on one pearl, the segments are separate but close inspection of the boundary shows optical blurring. I haven't seen thousands of pearls, though.

    I also only have a cell phone screen for viewing. It only magnifies so much.

    I hope someone who has seen many more pearls will chime in, particularly Tahitian, or Sea of Cortes owners or cultivators. I've never seen one in person, so I don't know what a really close inspection of their color boundaries show.

    So, is the pearl you photographed ground? Or dipped in something? Or this is supposed to be 'as found'? Is this a pearl you were telling us about, one that you filed yourself? This is terribly interesting!
    Last edited by lisa c; 04-19-2012 at 05:52 AM.

  12. #12
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    There is two pearls here. When I attached the photos it mixed up the order. The top photo and the bottom photo are actually the same pearl flipped 180 degrees vertically. The second photo is a different pearl with lots of small blemishes. I wasn't able to photograph the Tahitian pearl that has a minor amount of this blemish on the bottom of it.

    This is a pearl from a respected wholesaler. He said its a natural blemish that only occurs on South Sea and Tahitians. I was just hoping someone on here could confirm it. Its not the first time I've seen this type of blemish. I've always thought it was "doctoring" or filing.

  13. #13

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    round enough, looks like eyeball. May be it is nucleus? I am not sure.
    Last edited by Joyful Grow; 04-19-2012 at 05:45 AM.

  14. #14
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Ok. I thought photo 2was a close up of the 'frosty' area on pearl 1. Well, let's see if the heavy hitters can give us more information.

    I'll look through my freshwaters to see if I have any 'cupped' looking ones like your photos. Maybe 'cupping' IS a type of flaw only seen in Tahitians and South Seas!

    Has anyone seen this mentioned in E Strack's book?
    Last edited by lisa c; 04-20-2012 at 11:03 PM.

  15. #15
    Perpetual Pearl Student Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert lisa c's Avatar
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    Jeremy or Amrita, or Ashley or Kevin or anyone who has seen tons of pearls, can you take a look at this pearl and comment?

    Have you seen a cupping blemish like this on freshwater pearls?
    Is this truly a defect of only Tahitian or other South Sea pearls?
    Does the blemish look natural or inflicted?

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