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Have I finally found my natural seed pearls ?

MSC

Natural Pearl Lover
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
Messages
2,827
Sophie, what a lovely and interesting looking strand. I'll be looking forward to seeing your photos.

Dave and Caitlin, thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge; it really is very important to have your equally insightful points of view!
 

Caitlin

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Dec 11, 2004
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8,569
Utility grade - I like that. When they say they get 10,000 "natural pearls", 90% or more will be utility grade. Or to be specific, they will be rather irregular seed pearls. Even the seed pearls get high graded, and low graded, LOL.
 

hbyrne

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Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
177
This is all super-interesting reading! Thank you Dave and Caitlin for your sharing your experience.

They look like really cute pearls FrenchPearl, looking forward to seeing some more pics when they arrive.
 

FrenchPearl

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Joined
Feb 9, 2013
Messages
155
Hello Helen, and Andrea,
So cool to discuss with you again !

I agree, speculating, researching about those seeds perals is fascinating ! I read the story of Gaston Vives on my Starck book, and I really like the fact that those "utility grade pearls" ended up as regular , affordable jewelery for normal people ( as opposed to high end jewelry with the top 10% gem quality pearls that were sold in Europe.
Adding to what Caitlin quoted from E. Starck book
Local pearls were so abundant around the middle of the 19th century that they were worn in nearly all circles of society.mVisitors from abroad would often marvelled at this fact and even complained that too many pearls could be seen on the streets of Mexico. Similar complaints had already been heard in the 17th and 18th century when pearls had become an average, rather vulgar type of jewelery in the spanish colonnies. There were even worn by servant. Pearls of good quality had always been an exception, and were exclusively sold on the international market. Source : Natural Pearls book p192

That said, the pictures of those mexican pearls p195, is not a visual match. And the mexican pearl were oysters. From the conversation above, i understand that my strand seeds is more likely to be of mussels origin (please chime in if i got that wrong).

In the book, the only pictures I could find as an approximate visual match are some saxon river pearls p 219. That would go in favor of the european river unio assumption.

Do you know if there is a thread or album with seed pearls pictures on PG ? I recall seeing some discussions a couple years ago but could not find them.....
I got an update from "la Poste" and the letter is in NY, so in Seattle in the next couple days.
 

CathyKeshi

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Mar 16, 2014
Messages
4,476
Thank you for posting that Strack quote, Sophie ... astonishing, isn't it? Fashion gossip from the Spanish colonies in the 17h & 18th centuries ... and servants wearing natural pearls!
 

pattye

Pearl Scholar
Joined
Dec 26, 2005
Messages
11,287
French Pearl,

Your pretty new pearls seem similar to my double strand SAiD TO BE natural Mississippi River pearls, from ebay, quite a few years ago. Sizes are approx 2mm to 7mm, with most in the 3-4mm range, very creamy in color. They desperately needed a bath, and are still on the temporary wire. The sterling clasp has a broken glass stone, but possibly I can find some gem to replace it. LOVE reading the Strack book, too!

P1000954.jpg P1000955.jpg
 
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Caitlin

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Dec 11, 2004
Messages
8,569
I bought this one off eBay as an American freshwater. When I showed it to Jim Peach a couple of years later, he said it was Persian Gulf, pinctada radiata and showed me some others like mine. Jim Peach of American Pearls is one guy that knows American freshwater pearls.
ac31_12.jpg

What do you think about this one?
ebay 4 strand seed pearl.jpg

The Mexican pearls I have seen in jewelry all look like these:
serveimage.jpg
il_570xN.855984251_80qh.jpg
serveimage3.jpg

I have never seen the kind of pearls Strack used to illustrate Mexican pearls; that picture is hardly representative. She was using modern La Paz natural pearls.

I was fooled about a radiata being a freshwater. How can you tell them apart?
 

Lagoon Island Pearls

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Dec 8, 2009
Messages
1,913
I was fooled about a radiata being a freshwater. How can you tell them apart?

It's hard to know for sure unless you harvested them yourself or perform a comparative examination of each nucleus.

The shape, color and luster in your first image look more salt than fresh to me too.

Flat spots occur but do not prevail in P. radiata. They do in mussels though. This is because the gonads and mantle share the same space, where in pearl oysters they're entirely separate organs.

Seed pearls almost always come from the mantles in any species. Simply be cause they're tiny does not mean they are young. In fact many naturals begin as microscopic in size and only become visible to the naked eye after a few years of growth.

Sacrificing a pearl by cutting or filing it can reveal it's age in the same manner as a tree. When appearing lustrous, gulf pearls (even big ones) are generally young. One to three years. Warm water means fast growth and have lots of space to expand.

In mussels, natural pearls are often much older. One to ten years (or more) If they don't burst from the sac, they'll become calcitic in two to three years. Bursting from the sac causes it to rejuvenate as new tissues re-form to enclose the pearl. Sometimes an older calcitic pearl will burst from the sac and the new tissues that form will introduce a new juvenile, lustrous surface. However, the pearl will lose it's translucency.

This is part of my recent work with the lab in U of Granada, Spain. Using SSEM (electron microscopy) we are capturing pearls in throes of bursting from the sac. One preliminary conclusion being mussels pop very often, perhaps often as once a year. This would explain why some of my pearls are highly transluscent, while others the same age in the same mussel are like chalk.

So to summarize, mussel pearls will have more growth rings than pearl oysters in a majority of instances.
 

GemGeek

Pearlista
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
9,237
The torsade is not Sea of Cortez. They are mixed saltwater pearls. As I remember, some are from South America. One of the best pearl photos I have ever taken. ♡♡♡
 

kyratango

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Joined
Mar 17, 2015
Messages
51
Sophie, they called you and you did well to say hello ;-)
I'm in no way a scientific, but a feeling pearl lover, and was very impressed by Dave's explanations about graft and what he saw from the pictures!
As Caitlin, having encountered so many antique seedpearls in such rows (and now regret not buying them!), I guessed they are natural, but in no way I can assume it, only "feelings" ;-))
 

MSC

Natural Pearl Lover
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
Messages
2,827
Pattye, Caitlin, what great examples! They both look similar to me, but I wouldn't think Sophie's look freshwater. Those Mexican earrings remind me of these ones that turned out to be from Malta:
DSCN8677 (3).jpg

The pearls on the earrings are (supposedly) saltwater and I think look similar to Sophie's. I kinda hope you get them lab tested just so we can know, Sophie!
 

FrenchPearl

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Joined
Feb 9, 2013
Messages
155
Hello everybody,
I'm back finally, and it is such a pleasure to look at the pictures and kind comments you posted. Thank you for sharing! The strands of Patty and Caitlin are beautiful. I believe mine has much smaller pearls, but they are so interesting! I got them last week and as the sun was out , I snapped a few pictures indoor and outdoor. (Not bathed yet -still quite dirty). They have been on wrist all week, and I've spent a ridiculous amount of time gazing at them. I even have my magnifying glass in my purse to watch them more closely when I have time to kill ( and I had a lot of it).
I could not manage to do a candling photoshoot, but the light was so beautiful on that day, I can see "through" some pearls in some of the pic. While I was starting to lean on them being natural (i named my strand " the fisherman's wife strand), i'm now perplexed.
I do see some shadows with similar shapes and location that could be the "graft" Dave's mentioned....but i also some rasperry features.
The round pearl necklace is the one I bought a couple year ago, which i believe to be natural... However I see bead shadows in it now ��

One pearl has a chip, with show black organic material... I'm hoping this will be the clue that will tip the balance one way or the other.

Would love to have your thoughts once again, as I don't think this one is worth sending for certification.
Warm regards
Sophie
image.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpghisano re design fireball necklace glamor shot
 
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hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
Messages
177
Gorgeous photos, Pattye and Caitlin!! Thank you for sharing these beauties.

SUCH subtle differences between the shapes, it takes sooo much looking to actually see! Thank you Dave for clarifying what to look for, I've quite a number of older seed pearl strands....I know how to identify them now, but knowing what species and whether they're fresh or saltwater is the next step for me. Maybe I'll post some pics as some of mine are different again from these.

This is such a fascinating thread ☺️
 

FrenchPearl

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Feb 9, 2013
Messages
155
hello Helen,

Please do post pictures of your seed pearls strands, it would be great to have "reference" thread on this type of pearls/ strands for education.
i have taken new pictures of the broken pearl today, and will post shortly.
Best,
Sophie
 

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
Messages
177
Antique natural pearls is my main area of interest, and after reading this thread I've been trying to analyse my approach to identification.

Pre-PG, my approach (commonsense I thought) was that in the same way as house, furniture, art etc survives from previous eras, so does jewellery and gemstones. Particularly as they are items of worth and often sentimental value. So, if the unevenness of pearls, handmade clasp, stringing, dirty build-up (eek!) etc all looks right after inspection with a loupe, then I'd assume they're old. Older pearls are more likely to be natural, by token of their age, wouldn't you say? So, a greater incidence occurs.

Nowadays, since PG, I'm no longer so confident of my powers of observation or judgement. I'm more cautious. I've realised that the subtle differences between one pearl and another can be so fine, and I feel that I need to try to find out what species they are, and understand the likelihood as much as I can of when and where they occurred.

The vast majority of older pearls I see are seed pearls, mostly pre 1900. Seed pearls themselves in antique jewellery are fairly common, in that I see them practically every day, whilst seed pearl necklaces are not an everyday occurrence. In the UK at least, I believe many of these seed pearls originated from India/Ceylon under British Colonial rule. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Pinctada radiata?

So difficult to take a decent photo, but hopefully these will add something to the conversation. I'm pretty confident all these pearls in the photos are older natural pearls. They range from 0.5mm-3mm. I think they're saltwater (?), but from different species as there seem to be two quite different basic shape/colour combinations found in the different strands;

1. Smooth round-ish yellow and peachy toned with flat ends
2. More baroque and crinkly whiter creamy silver shades...quite like yours, Sophie? What do you think?

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hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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177
The last two pics show larger pearls too. #accidentalupload! Still haven't got the hang of this image upload widget.
 

MSC

Natural Pearl Lover
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
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To my eye, Helen, all of yours look like older naturals. But much like you, the longer I've participated on this forum, the more I question my own eye. Oh, how I love those 0.5mms! And that other strand, you know which one ;)
 

Lagoon Island Pearls

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Dec 8, 2009
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I'm pretty confident all these pearls in the photos are older natural pearls. They range from 0.5mm-3mm. I think they're saltwater (?), but from different species as there seem to be two quite different basic shape/colour combinations found in the different strands;

1. Smooth round-ish yellow and peachy toned with flat ends
2. More baroque and crinkly whiter creamy silver shades...quite like yours, Sophie?

Can anyone shed any light?

That is a difficult question.

One or two points of consideration is inadequate. In this case, color and shape are brought forward.

Unless specific colors predominate, one cannot base an opinion on it. For example, natural pipi will almost always predominate in bright orange. However, white occurs across every species of mollusk. Therefore, various shades of white can only support... not confirm origin.

Flat spots. These prevail in mussels, but not exclusively. All CFWP are mussels. However, mussels grow in the chuck too. Likewise a small percentage of natural pearls from pterioda present with flat spots. It happens most often when pearls are found in the mantles, but lesser so when found in other tissues. Hence that theory goes out the window too.

The only way around this problem is to employ the differential diagnosis in pathology. After all, pearls are physical lesions with etiological history. This is why examination of the nuclear material is imperative. Once drilled, pearls are destroyed from a scientific standpoint. Especially seed pearls, where often more than 50% of the pearl is removed.

Chances are seed pearls are natural, but this can never be the criteria from which to identify them insomuch as adding a single point in an otherwise broader process. The greater part of any natural harvest anywhere on the planet are seed pearls. Verifiable provenance offers hope on this matter. In the absence of it, jumping to conclusions has no bearing in science. They stand falsifiable.

One must consider the grade. High grading seed pearls to create strands obscures their origin, because data needed to make a proper analysis is missing. Human intervention, intentionally or not, give subjective impressions to appear in ways the market, not science perceives them.

Again, pearls can be any color, any size and any shape for any reason irrespective of species.

Seed pearls have lower value than other natural pearls. They are not targeted. They are incidental. It's doesn't make them less beautiful or desirable though. So long as "klonks" remain the pearl of choice for some (or most), seed pearls will needlessly be looked upon in diminutive ways. Like many other pearl pieces, they are not an investment and looking for deals invites fraud or misrepresentation. Likewise many of the "turn of the century" inventories have the labels of greed, destruction and slaughter associated with them.
 

FrenchPearl

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Feb 9, 2013
Messages
155
Oh Helen ! What a collection ! How marvellous that you managed to rescue those beauties !
Of course, they all "present" ;) as natural, and clearly you have both experience and an eye for pearls.
It's too late for me tonight, but I really want to continue this conversation.
My little strand actually is more creamy/ peachy than silvery in real life (it might look silvery in the picture because of the light and luster), and yes, shapewise it is very much like like your baroque/crinly ones.
Is the first one (in the collection pic) a pipi natural ? It is really something, i forgot to breath at its sight ....
Thank you so much for sharing your treasures !
 
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