Have you ever peeled a pearl -We Have and look what we got

New Zealand Natural Pearl

Well-known member
May 4, 2008
A friend of mine went to Rarotonga recently and bought
a dozen pearls of a guy on the beach for $5.00US each.
I thought he got ripped off as they were shocking-
UNTIL I started to grind the bottom of one - to my
SURPRISE a large flake peeled off -

I chipped away for about 20 minutes and Peeled Pearl.jpg finally
revealed a beautiful ,gem grade 12ml pearl - its a WOW

The pearl on the right will give you an idea what we started with.
Has anyone else had such an experience.
That is so cool! I've read about peeling pearls but haven't seen any actual results.

I'm gonna have to try this. Where do I find $5 pearls?
now that is impressive! what did you use to do the actual chipping?
Is there a PGer close by to buy all pearls for 5 dollars so we all could get a pearl to peel?:D

If it ends up with such a beauty as above, we all could count us very lucky indeed!;)
WOW! sounds just about right :cool:

Just thinking out loud here: wasn't Josh saying recently that he had just fished a whole lot of icky aged pearls? If they have thicker nacre (to withstand peeling) and Gorgon looks like that crummy bit next to the ring, then you should have a whole lot of Kamoka candidates for pealing :rolleyes:
Gorgeous pearl! It would be fun to try it ourselves, but my understanding about peeling, from what I read in Matlins' The Pearl Book, is that
1. it requires skill, and that
2. whatever is beneath may be just as bad or worse than the surface that was peeled away.

But I suppose if you only paid a few dollars, it wouldn't matter much.
I, too, would like to know more about this. A very fortunate experience, to say the least. I would be afraid of scratching something nice underneath. Still, for $5--worth the time to experiment. Perhaps an exacto knife with thin tip??? Please tell us what tools you used.
Peeled Pearls Tools

Peeled Pearls Tools

Thanks here are the tools we used

Tools 1.jpg[/ATTACH] Some of the Pearls
PurchasedSome of the Pearls Purchased.jpg Here are two photos of
pearls that didnt work - One Outside the Pearl
the other Inside the Pearl[/ATTACH]


  • One that didnt work outside.jpg
    One that didnt work outside.jpg
    17.4 KB · Views: 55
Ugly duckling pearl = $5.00
Airfare from Los Angeles = $1,360.80
Bragging rights = PRICELESS! :D
Wow--that's really something! What a discovery under that ugly surface! Congratulations!

To answer the question--yes, I have done some pearl peeling. In fact, some years ago, in Burlington, WA, I worked for Charles Yousling, a jeweler from Redondo Beach who referred to himself as "The Pearl Doctor." He had even made a video that demonstrated the process. Charles had a copy of the book "The Book of the Pearl" by Kunz and Stevenson which I borrowed and read. There is a good description of the process and it's history starting on page 375. In doing a little quickie research just now, I found that there is an entire copy of this rare book that one can read online! It may be found on Farlang at:

The page number search works oddly. This may be explained by the pages with illustrations not being numbered, though still accounting for a page in the search function. Page 375 can be found by typing in the number 446 or simply by going to:


There is even an illustration of peeled pearls after page 376 (search for p. 448) or:


For those who wish to pursue this skill, there are some interesting details in this book that will undoubtedly be of help.

Although I have experimented with some cheap pearls just to try the technique, I have found it useful in dealing with some of the abalone blister pearls that have been weathered from exposure to sun and/or rain. I have used, variously, an old style, non-throw-away scalpel, gravers, particularly flat gravers and a coulple of shaped, tool-steel, chipping tools for this purpose. The tools that NZNP showed are, I think, about ideal for this purpose. Tools with a very acute edge can be difficult to use without damaging the pearls because of their tendancy to dig in and thus penetrate and scratch the layer beneath the one being removed. Her pictured tools have a rather blunt edge, though hopefully well sharpened, that are less likely to dig in.

If any of the P.G.ers express an interest, I will see if I can contact Charles and ask if he might have some of the videos available.
Last edited:
I would love to see videos of the process!
Thank you J Marcus for all the interesting info on pearl peeling, I'm sure many of us would like to see the videos if you can track them down. No doubt we're all dreaming about discovering a pearl like the one posted by NZNP, as well as going to the beach in Rarotonga!
Just found a copy of the original edition of the book by Kunz & Stevenson:

for the low price of $1,494.98

Yes, it's gone up quite a bit over the years... :eek: However, we still have the cheap alternative of reading it on Farlang, bless their rosy little hearts...

I'll try and get in touch with Charles. It may be next week sometime. I haven't spoken with him for a few years, though I know where he lives.
Last edited:
for the low price of $1,494.98

That's a lot of pearl pealing!

I have a hard enough time pealing vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and bananas. I thought Pattye's exacto knife idea was really good. See? I would have made a mess before I even started!