Candled Natural Pearls

Good analogy!
Ok, are you pointing me to the section upper right, with the darkest spot, then the 'meaty' rounded looking section with a tail that vaguely resembles South America?
Much easier to find in shades of gray, I must say...
Good analogy!
Ok, are you pointing me to the section upper right, with the darkest spot, then the 'meaty' rounded looking section with a tail that vaguely resembles South America?

Yes, and the lower left side, there is a distinct dark line which is the edge of the graft tissue. Both are way too close to the outside surface.

In naturals, I'd expect that deeper within the pearl, not near to the outside surface as this pearl presents.
OMG! Edge!!! Like a sheet of cardboard in a globe, only a little soggy? Not only Balloons, but planes. I wasn't looking along an axis! I was only looking at layered plates. Yes? No?

this definitely requires multiple readings.

You're a wonderful teacher.
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In a CFWP, the size of the pearl tends to be relative to the size of the graft, much in the same way a bead does. Add a couple years of growth, one can usually expect a modest layer on the outside. Natural pearls, especially larger ones are much older (3-8 years), therefore you'd expect thicker nacre around the nucleus.

I like your impression of a globe within a clear sphere. It's only slightly smaller than the outer sphere. Unless it's a septic pearl, you'd rarely see that in a natural. If you revisit the images on page one of this thread, you'll see how deep and eccentric the onset contrasts appear within the pearl. Some have no visible nuclei at all. All CFWP will have visible onset contrasts. On the other thread with kyratango's strand, I'd expect about 1/3 (or so) to have no visible nukes and the remainder dissimilar to be deemed natural. Otherwise 100% visible contrasts = cultured.
Thank you for your continuing patience as you teach us! It's impressive, and kind.
Hi all,
I just bought this bracelet at vintage market today and wonder what type of pearl it is.
I tried teeth method and knew it not freshwater pearl because it doesn't feel sandy. It's not round, so can't be Akoya. Tahitian maybe or natural pearl maybe? Is there any way to tell. Thank you very much.
Sweet find!!! That little fin on the first pearl left of center is often seen in baroque akoyas.
@Pearl Dreams and Marianne. I think your right. Thank you so much for helping me. I also found a pair earring go together with it too :)
A few days ago, a researcher (from Indonesia?) emailed me with a few questions and an attached research paper after viewing this thread. The topics were USB microscope resolution, dual light sources and mentions of protein spaces between layers of calcite.

Unfortunately, that computer crashed and I lost the message, contact and attachment. If the gentleman sees this posting, please contact me again ( that we may continue this discussion.
Great setup Dave! I have to follow your lead and examine some naturals here and I believe that what you have shared is really valuable. Gotta get me a new USB Digital Microscope! (last one I had was stolen :( )
Been trying to do this with my cultured but so far they all look about the same inside & I can't see a bead.
One I can see the horizontal lines so thats cultured...

I have phase contrast microscope but lowest power is 100X
I have a old B&L gemolite but the glass on top of the bulb & the tweezer attacment are missing.
I can view things if I hold them under the lenses but could never do pics.

Been trying setting the pearls top of a magnalite & using 10 or 15X loupe

If its pretty translucent is that good?
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Hi Dave and All,

I am hoping you can "read" my candling photos for me. These are photos of two rings I have. I know the photos are not perfect but at the time I only had my camera to use. I bought 2 USB microscopes and one has arrived but not with a readable CD - one of those tiny ones that are useless for most computers. I am downloading drivers I hope will work on my mac. The other microscope seems to be totally lost in the US postal system. Seller sent it via USP and it ended up delivered to some firm in the US after I paid $30 for a fast delivery. Grrrrr

I will add photos of other items later. Sometimes (often) I am not really sure what I am seeing. Need to learn what I am seeing.

I have other photos but thought to get opinions on these first. I believe both are natural pearls. At the moment I still sometimes get a halo around the pearls or the light shines straight through them. The 3 light system may be too much light, not sure.

As a set up I am using an 80mm x 55mm box with a 3 light torch in it. That can be used easily just by pushing on the top to turn on and off. The lid is tight so no light escapes that way and no need for a cord or wire out the side of the box. Also using Blu Tack to cover any holes not in use and after a few tries decided to use it on top as well by cutting a small square of Blu Tack and using the Wad Punch to cut a hole in that too. That helps to keep light from glaring out around the pearl.

I have set 3 boxes up with 3 holes in each of varying sizes. Have more boxes so will probably try out different types and sizes of holes to look at strands once I get a microscope working. The boxes and little battery light were cheap. It is just a matter of changing the lids for different hole sizes.

Sorry about blurry photo of set up but the extra lenses were still on the camera.

Dawn - Bodecia
eBay Seller ID dawncee333 Natural pearl collector & seller. And all round pearl lover.

I wish my eyes would see why this might be a natural pearl?
I can't say it enough - go to the GIA website - All the past issues of Gems & Gemology are online and there are countless videos and photos of jewelry, gems and pearls. The videos on the Cheapside Hoard will give you an idea of the current state of their videography standards:

Thanks for the link...had been to GIA site but missed a whole wealth of info.

I'm glad they are getting some more adv equip for pearls but guess natural pearls are just still relatively rare to invest alot of money in equipment when plain ole xray can do. They can now remove DNA from pearls & trace it back to the type of oyster.

Oooh was reading up on diamonds too...reminds me how I would love to have a Golconda diamond from India type A but mine really has not produced since late 1800's & jewelry from that time is just not everywhere & some of the best are in crown jewels & maybe with Elizabeth Taylor. Hope diamond is frm that mine. Anyway I can't afford diamonds but I can squeeze in a few nice cultured pearls...
This is Pearl Number 50 - one I also found interesting even if I could not say natural or cultured. Each pearl has had a lot of photos taken of it and I ended up with 3 containers. One had all those I could identify as cultured with assurance. Another had those that I wanted more photos of to decide and the third that I thought looked like they just maybe naturals. These that I am adding including number 8 and number 50 are from that last lot.

What I want to do is either put them away for further study and my microscope or put them in the cultured box so I can design with them.

The necklace I bought them on was the one with the beautiful silver and paste pendant from around the early 1900s. When I bought it the pearls were sold as naturals but they arrived I thought not likely and then inspected them. Three or more had large drill holes and in two of those I could see a bead. So cultured. But on further inspection after cleaning and breaking the necklace I thought the other one that had a large drill hole looked like it might be a possible natural. Some just looked different so I thought to candle those and then it grew to taking candle photos of them all, even the ones I could see a bead in. This is just for background on them. Even before buying them I did not believe for one minute that the necklace was all original. I just took a punt.

Later if wanted I can add photos that show definite signs of culturing such as visible beads, banding etc.

Dawn - Bodecia
eBay Seller ID dawncee333 Natural pearl collector & seller. And all round pearl lover.

Interesting o what was the conclusion? I see the colorful banding but I also see what looks like a nacre line in the drill hole. Sometimes the border between the bead & the nacre is hard to tell while looking in a drill hole but I can usually see it. Candling is new for me so I am playing with it.

Sorry if its later in the thread but I am on page 12 of 23 pages & just commenting page by page

I'll have to check you out on ebay...My Mom lives in Australia NSW
Wow Dawn, you've been busy!

Both appear beaded. I'm not seeing pronounced contrasts in the layers of the bead similar to washboard mussel, but I am seeing features of pigtoe mussel nuclei. Several of those beads in my batch have patches of calcite similar to ones shown in these images. I'll show you a comparison next week, when I get back to my stash of nuclei in the lab on Clayoquot Island. I'll candle some.

Another observation, similar to one I made on Andrea's pearl. It's more apparent on one, less on the other, but both present with color shifted patches and stippling just below the surface at equal depth. I don't see any deep inclusions. I don't see any initiating events other than what appears to be graft tissue in the lobe of the teardrop pearl. Again, near the surface...not deep in the middle.

Likewise, I see a contrasted ring near each hole. A drilled natural pearl would not present in this manner.

To expand a little on these views, let's discuss conchiolin for a moment. Conchiolin is substance created by mollusks which contains proteins and sugars. It's laid up by epithelial cells adjacent to the cells that lay up aragonite. In juvenile growth, it's present in greater volume than mature layers. Remember we discussed overmaturity a while ago? Overmature pearls have very thin layers of protein while aragonite and calcite predominate. When we have a view of cross sections, dark contrasts indicate protein content. If there is a ring around the hole, that ascertains the pearl is cultured, because the higher concentration of conchiolin is just below the surface, not at the center of the nucleus.

Again, as I told Andrea, I don't enjoy being spoil-sport, but this is a learning experience and we've advanced a method that helps all of us better understand the differences in pearl origin.

So would this mean that oler old natural pearls do not have a goodluster on the outside as they put down the best layers early in formation & those are more near the center? I guess that would mean 2 or 3 years is top to culture otherwise the outer layers become increasingly sort of opaque?