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Damage "Black Pearl"

poorpearl

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2011
Messages
2
On a recent trip to China my wife bought for a sizable sum a large black pearl (14mm) at an upscale jewelry store in a very modern mall (a store that should be reputable dealer). Unfortunately, after we got home she dropped it on a tile floor and it broke into two pieces. The inside is not at all like the outside and my wife now thinks she was sold a fake. I am not convinced either way. The inside does not look like what I would expect the inside of a pearl look, but I have never seen the inside of a pearl. It seems to me that the inside may be consistent with a cultured pearl. I am attaching pictures of the broken pearl and hope you may be able to tell from looking at them whether this is a true pearl (cultured or otherwise) or a fake. If it is a true pearl, would anyone be able to venture an approximate price before it was broken. Thanks.DSCN2620.jpgDSCN2611.jpgDSCN2608.jpgDSCN2618.jpgDSCN2625.jpgDSCN2616.jpgDSCN2609.jpgDSCN2613.jpg
 

pattye

Pearl Scholar
Joined
Dec 26, 2005
Messages
11,287
Hi poorpearl,

Welcome, and very sorry to see what happened to this pendant. Yes, it does look like a genuine Tahitian "teardrop shape" pearl. The outside of the pearl clearly shows light rings, and varying natural colors that make Tahitian pearls very attractive! Cultured Tahitian pearls (like this one) are nucleated with a mother of pearl bead, which is what you see in the center.

Some of the nacre looks rather thin, especially on the bottom of the pearl. The rings and top of the pearl indicate it is not a top quality pearl. If the bail is gold and set with diamonds, it might have more value than the pearl itself. A jeweler could remove the bail and a replacement pearl could be glued back on.

Sorry but unable to arrive at a value, but it is a genuine cultured Tahitian pearl. I hope this unfortunate experience will not keep your wife from loving and wanting to wear pearls! When buying at retail stores, one generally pays a high price. You might compare the price you paid with the cost of pendants on some of the websites of our members here, such as Pearl Paradise, The Pearl Outlet and more.

Thank you for posting. Your pictures are very clear and helpful, too, for educating us all.
 

Caitlin

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2004
Messages
8,568
Well said, Pattye.

I am sorry you had this experience. It is OK to mention the name of the store, because you are describing your own experience with them. I do think they will exchange it for you, if the logistics aren't too bad to send it back.

Yes, you are looking at a cultured pearl. The beads are in the middle to help them stay round and to save the time it would take to grow the pearl without a nucleus, which is what the bead is called. The nucleus is made out of shell, mother of pearl,

No pearl should break half the nacre off from a fall, let alone have the mother of pearl nucleus break in half!!!! There was some kind of flaw in the nucleus or the way it was drilled. Highly unusual.
 

Caitlin

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2004
Messages
8,568
I just checked out Pearl Paradise, because they are hard to beat for price and quality and I know they sell loose pearls. The page I linked to has loose Tahitian teardrops with circles (worth retail 130 and up, but you can buy online for 25 and up). This company will put your bail into their pearl.
 
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Lagoon Island Pearls

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Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Messages
1,913
No pearl should break half the nacre off from a fall, let alone have the mother of pearl nucleus break in half!!!! There was some kind of flaw in the nucleus or the way it was drilled. Highly unusual.

The nuclei has markedly contrasting layers. Drilling and inserting the finding acted like a firing pin to split the pearl.

Too bad, was otherwise a nice circle pearl. I'm sure who either grew or sold it would happily replace it.
 

poorpearl

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2011
Messages
2
Thanks for all your comments and advice. Getting back to Shenzhen is not easy, but we still have some friends there. We will see what we can do through them. I have also had a look at Pearl Paradise, which looks like a possible alternative if nothing can be worked out with the store. Thanks again to everyone.
 

lisa c

Perpetual Pearl Student
Joined
Jun 28, 2009
Messages
3,601
Dave, I wonder if that's a clue to why cracks appeared in some of the pearls but not all of the pearls, after heating (not boiling)my akoyas in water. I've worn the nacre so thin I bet I can see if the strata are very markedly contrasting too. But, that assumes that the contrasting colors are indicative of markedly different components, in either density or make-up, right?

Were you referring to discrete layers, not necessarily colors? I'd better go back and look again.

Wow, the colors couldn't be more different along the split, could they? You can see a couple of fractures; the plates of color are only a few degrees off being right in line with the orientation of the finding. Thanks for pointing that out.
 
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Lagoon Island Pearls

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Dec 8, 2009
Messages
1,913
Wow, the colors couldn't be more different along the split, could they?

Definitely different colors. Just like pearls, nuclei are also sold in grades. Some are better than others and hidden flaws will even happen in otherwise good quality beads.

There is no single reason for cracking, especially across species. Post harvest treatment, body chemistry, temperature, humidity, structural inconsistencies, shock forces etc., can affect pearls in unforseen ways.
 

jshepherd

Natural Pearl
Joined
Jun 22, 2004
Messages
5,721
I've never seen one crack like that before. It's almost as if the nucleus was two halves to begin with.

You find a whole lot of Tahitians in Hong Kong and China that have "floated" that direction from French Polynesia via The Cooks or not. I've seen some in huge booths at the shows that have a visible nucleus. Because of the quantity, it's obvious that the smuggling is rampant.
 

Josh

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2007
Messages
848
Jeremy, thanks for spelling this one out.
There is no way that that pearl was exported through legal means. The nacre looks to be less than half a mm at it's thinnest (where it will be measured by export controls) which is no where near the minimum nacre thickness of legit Tahitian pearls, that being .8mm minimum.
 

Hanaleimom

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
1,478
It's too bad that the smuggling brings a not so good reputation for Tahitian black pearls. I wonder if there is a possibility of polishing to remove an unattractive outer layer which resulted in thinning out the nacre. If I am not mistaken, I've read another post here that once the pearls make it to China or Japan, there could be other treatments applied prior to reaching consumers. Cortez pearls and Tahitian black pearls do not go through treatments like others. These two types are harvested, washed and they are pretty much ready to be sold as is.
 

Hanaleimom

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Dec 27, 2007
Messages
1,478
Hi Cathy,
I'm not sure that the smuggling tarnishes all Tahitian black pearls. I would like to think that pearls with an identifiable provenance shine as brightly as ever. :)

Hi Josh, I didn't mean it would tarnish all Tahitian black pearls. For me, I know that buying from reputable source would guarantee nacre thickness. For first timer like original poster, it may deter him/her from buying another black pearl again, unless he/she finds info. like here that would make him/her a well informed consumer. :)
 

Hanaleimom

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
1,478
Hi Cathy,
I'm not sure that the smuggling tarnishes all Tahitian black pearls. I would like to think that pearls with an identifiable provenance shine as brightly as ever. :)

Hi Josh, I didn't mean it would tarnish all Tahitian black pearls. For me, I know that buying from reputable source would guarantee nacre thickness. For first timer like original poster, it may deter him/her from buying another black pearl again, unless he/she finds info. like here that would make him/her a well informed consumer. :)
 
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