Can anyone tell me about my pearls?

Barbara Del Carlo

New Member
Jan 2, 2024
We received this string of pearls as a wedding gift in 1970. Because of who gave them to us we assume they were rather expensive and valuable. I wore them on our wedding day and several times since for important occasions they need a bit of repair because the clasp thread broke off and a couple of the pearls are missing. They’re in the original box from Furuya, Chicago. Can anyone give me any information about them? Would anyone have an idea of what they would be worth and what the market is now for pearls? Thank you.
You have a lovely graduated necklace of akoya pearls. Is the center pearl around 7mm and the end pearls around 3mm? That would have been a common range. Nowadays akoya necklaces tend to be a straight size, with up to a 0.5mm difference between the largest and smallest pearls, e.g. 6.5mm-7.0mm or 7.0mm-7.5mm.

Akoya pearls are valuable (and recently the price has skyrocketed because of various factors), but not so valuable that they need to be saved for special occasions! I hope you will feel free to wear them more often after having them restrung! Pearls benefit from being worn. Moisture is good for them and helps them to maintain their luster.

I think their main value is sentimental value, because of their being your wedding pearls! How can you put a price on that? My own wedding pearls were high end imitations (Majorica) but I still treasure them because I wore them on that special day.

Then there is replacement value-- what it would cost to buy another similar stand. That is usually for insurance purposes, but I don't recommend insuring these. If you ever lost the strand and wanted to have a strand made up just like it, it could actually cost more than you'd expect, because graduated akoya strands are not in vogue now. The jeweler would have to have access to a wide range of akoya pearl sizes, and most jewelers do not maintain that in stock.

Then there is resale value -- but you are not looking to sell them, I don't think? However, if at some point you do want to sell them, just look on eBay at SOLD listings of vintage akoya graduated necklaces to see what a similar stand has sold for recently. That will show you what people are tending to be willing to pay for such a necklace. It is probably less than you think. Pearls do not hold value on resale, unless they are a premium brand like Mikimoto or historic/"important" pearls.

I count 40 pearls to the left of the center pearl and 39 pearls to the right of the center pearl. So it looks like maybe you just lost the one end pearl along with the other end of the clasp (or do you have the other end of the clasp?) You could have them restrung with the remaining pearls and just adjust where you put the clasp at the back of your neck so it hangs straight, or you could remove one pearl from the other side if you want it to be more symmetrical and a bit shorter. The end pearls are very small so it would not be much shorter. Alternatively you could try to get a replacement end pearl. However, pearls acquire a patina as they get older and you may find that a replacement pearl does not match perfectly, and once again the jeweler would have to have a pearl in that size in stock. I think it's easier to omit it.

If you think you might like to restring them yourself-- a lot of us do that-- see the stringing tutorial and videos that are stickies on the Lowly Beaders Club:
Also there is a discussion thread about Furuya you may find interesting: