1924 pearl necklace

Hey folks, I went to jewelers and reported what they told me! The clasp on the necklace is marked 10 K gold. They said that was used before the US established 12K as a gold standard. The pearls in both sets are uniform in size and color, but colors of the two pieces are several shades different. Both jewelers said that they are cultured because they are too uniform to be natural. They both thought the condition of both pieces was like new and asked if she ever wore them. I told them I knew her 55 years and never saw her wear either piece, although I think she wore the necklace in an old photo I saw of her. She was an old maid, bought fine ladies wear for her line of work, and kept eveyrthing she owned immaculate. She kept her jewelry in her dresser drawer, even until she died last August. I can try to take some more pictures of them later and post them.

Do you think I should mail these to the Northwest Lab where there is a pearl expert? I do want to sell both pieces and have no idea what they might be worth.
Antique pearls

Antique pearls

Hi Lynne,

I'd say go for it. Even as cultured pearls of that time they would be tremendously valuable and given the fact that they are uniform chances are they may well be natural. As pearls in the 7mm range they are incredibly rare both for antique cultured and naturals. You'd easily be in the 5-figure range per piece, if that turns out to be the case. However, make sure you send them to lab/valuer qualified to appraise and verify antique pearls.

I would definitely suggest sending them to a lab like NW Gems Labs The uniformity of the strand is just not a definitive answer. If the strand did turn out to be a natural you would lose big trying to sell them. Some things just do not add up logically. Sharon Wakefield of NWGL would be able to give you an absolute. I do not personally know of anyone in Minnesota that would be able to help you with a strand like that. You definitely want a specialist, though.
One thing I have learned over the years (time and time again), is that it is very, very rare to find a jeweler that really knows pearls - and even more rare still when discussing antique pieces.
Do you think I should send them to the place in New York? Is there someplace else you would recommend?

Thanks for your advice,

Thank you, Jeremy. I called Sharon and will send them to her tomorrow.

Okay, I talked to Sharon yesterday and shipped the necklace and bracelet to her today. She should get them Friday. I'll let you know what she says about them. I appreciate your input, Zeide and Jeremy. Thanks so much. I wouldn't have known what to do with them if you hadn't alerted me to Sharon.

Yes, I am having her do a full appraisal as I am interested in selling both the necklace and bracelet. Actually, the necklace is simply beautiful and I would wear it, but the woman who left it to me treated me rather badly in other ways, so I don't want to be reminded of her. Sharon thinks the is a chance the necklace may be natural pearls. She doesn't do x-rays herself, but knows where to have them done if she thinks the pearls are natural. She knows of a buyer in Scottsdale she trusts, so if the bracelet and necklace are cultured pearls, I'll probably have her obtain a bid from that gentleman. If by some miracle the necklace is natural pearls, I'll send them to my cousin outside of NYC and have him take them to the place recommended in NYC.
Tooth Test

Tooth Test

The tooth test can be used to check whether the pearls are fakes/imitation/faux pearles or not. To really know whether the pearls are cultured/real you should send tem to a Gem testing laboratory.

Rub the pearls LIGHTLY along the biting edge of your upper front teeth. if they feel gritty or sandy, it is likely that they are cultured or natural pearls. If they feel smooth they are probably imitation pearls. Be careful not to scratch the pearls when rubbing the pearls against your teeth.

This test does not work if you no longer have your own teeth, of course and it is not absolutely reliable if the imitation pearls have been polished. Other tests are magnifying tests, looking at the drill hole and so on. There are threads on this forum in other places.

Good luck

The only ting to tooth test is really good for these days it to tell Glass from real perls.. I have noticed that sometimes one can not even use coldness to touch or the weight of the pearls to tell if its a pearl or glass....

Even the Majorica pearls have gotten so good they are hard to tell the difference with the tooth test. I did the tooth test at the duty free store near us and the felt Gritty liek my other pearls do..... needless to say the staff was not impressed but I was curious...... so I did the tooth test...

The absolute best way to tell if the pearls are real is to have them X-rayed...

other ways help give hints as to dyeing or natural color... Like looking at teh drill holes etc..... but do not tell you if its FWP or SWP... natural or cultured......

now Cutured pearls ARE REAL pearls they have just had mans hand to kick start the process along

I do hope your appraisal tells you good news. and they are from 1924 that woudl be so exciting! Pleasepost your result.. would love to har them

Hi everyone,

I talked with Sharon today and she has looked briefly at the necklace and bracelet. Both pieces contain cultured pearls. She said the necklace pearls have a thick nacre. She didn't look at the bracelet pearls much yet. She will do a formal appraisal in the next day or so and let me know the value of these two pieces. I'll post it here, and thanks to everyone who provided advice, especially the referral to Sharon. She is a gem herself.


Well, my bubble is burst. Sharon said that the necklace cultured pearls are probably from the 1950s or 1960s, that they are too round and nice to have been as early as 1924. She said I can probably get only $300 to $500 for the necklace strand. She said that I can probably get only $200 to $300 for the cultured pearl bracelet. This isn't the retail value; it's what I could probably sell them for. Obviously I am disappointed. She is sending them back to me. I will probably just hang onto them.

Just thought you would all like to know I won't be taking a trip anytime soon!

Cultured pearl necklace

Cultured pearl necklace

Hi Lynne,

I was wondering about the clasp, too. It just did not jive. Auction prices are low nowadays because of the flood of pearls being produced. However, you may get a better price if your pearls have very thick nacre. On the other hand, why sell if you can keep them? Thick-nacre akoyas are still rare and beautiful.

The necklace strand is beautiful--the woman who left them to me wasn't a nice peson so I don't particularly want rembrances of her. But I will probably hang onto these as I can't get much for them.



Okay for those of you who have waited with baited breath, appraisals on the necklace and bracelet from Sharon Wakefield just arrived today. For anyone who wants an excellent appraisal, contact Sharon at Northwest Gemological Laboratory, email sharon@gem-science.com. I really enjoyed working with her.


16" long strand of 59 cultured akoya pearls with 10K white gold clasp. Total weight is 16.3 pennyweight.

Shape: Round
Size: 6.5-7.0 mm
Body color: White/slight rose'
Luster: Good to very good
Blemishes: Very lightly blemished
Matching: Very good
Nacre: Very thick

replacement value $2300. We will give this strand to my husband's daughter for her 40th birthday in June--birthstone is pearl.


Triple strand of 72 cultured akoya pearls with vermeil clasp. Total weight 18.5 pennyweight.

Shape: Round
Size: 6.0-6.5 mm
Body color: light cream/rose'
Luster: very good
Blemishes: Lightly blemished
Matching: very good
Nacre: thick

Replacement value $1350. This item is for sale.

Just thought you would all like to know. I have a great deal of confidence in Sharon's appraisal. Thank you for referring me to her.

Zeide and Jeremy, what do you think of the appraisals Sharon did of these pearls? They seem very well-described to me.

Hi lynne,

They sounded fine to me and should be a reminder to every heir of pearls that the lore about their history need not be entirely accurate.