Help identifying grandmother pearls



Hi, I was recently given my Grandmothers jewellery box and amongst other things were some pearl necklaces. My mother seems to think some of them are real and because they are broken she would like me to have them restrung. I know absolutely nothing about pearls however to me they all seem like cheap fakes, the surfaces of some are damaged and the clasps look cheap. I would like to know whether any of them are worth fixing. I will keep some for sentimental reasons but the others I don't feel are worth it. Any help would be appreciated. I have alot of photos but I don't want to 'jam' up this site by posting them all. Can some one tell me the best way to upload a photo, or is it best to use emails. Thanks.
Feel free to post pictures! If you select 'Manage Attachments' while posting, you should be able to upload any number of pictures. Otherwise try to describe the pearls in as much detail as possible - shape, size, drill holes, surface, color.
Have you tried the tooth test? It is easiest if you have a known genuine sample against which to compare.
Thanks so much for your prompt response. I have uploaded some pictures of all the necklaces together. I have some close up shots but I think I need to reduce the file size somehow, and try and post some more. I also have pictures of some of the boxes the pearls came in, however they were all jumbled up so I don't know which go together.


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Here are some closer pictures.


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Here are the boxes.


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Identifying grandmothers pearls

Identifying grandmothers pearls

Hi Carrie,

one of your photos shows a case with the name of "Pacific Pearls". This firm was owned by a German by the name of Rudolf Voll, I think and he was an expert on pearls, he lived in Japan and dealt with Akoyas, chinese freshwaters and so on. I don´t find the company any more on the Internet but that is because Mr Voll was an old man ( a bit over 80 years) already a couple of years ago, when I saw a documentary of him, called "The Pearl King". He was very respected by other pearl dealers and it is possible that one of your necklaces is a fine Akoya strand. However, he has two children, both deal with pearls, the daughter is in San Francisco, I believe and the son I do not remember.

One of Your other boxes showed "Majorica", which contained faux pearls, that is imitation pearls. From the pictures it is hard to tell, what You have. However, someone of our experts on this forum will be able to help you.

Please make certain to part the necklaces and put them in soft pouches so that you avoid more damage to the pearls than they already may have had.

Enjoy your heritance

Inge Jernberg
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Omar Pearls was a line of pearls from a company named Indra Pearl Co. that operated through the 20's. I believe that they were name for (and promoted with) the film "Omar the Tentmaker". There was a store in Los Angeles CA named Coulter's Dry Goods owned by B. F. Coulter. They were a retailer of Omar Pearls in the 20's.

I also think that Omar pearls originated in Barcelona, Spain. The Inrda Pearl Co. operated in the US at that address of 392 Fifth Ave, New York NY.

None of this may be correct for the necklace that you have however because the font that is used for the name on the box you have is different than the font used by Indra Pearl Co.

This information may be a place to start though.
Hi Carrie
In the picture labeled "all 3" , I think the 3rd from the left is the Majorica. It looks like a style they do.

You must do the tooth test on each strand and report, but from the colors on all the strands but one, I think it is a collection of vintage faux.

The faux strands will feel like nail polish feels on your nail when you rub it against the bottom edge of your tooth. If there is a cultured strand in there, the pearls will have a very fine gritty feel to the tooth. but I have seen that color too many times - it is the color faux pearls turn when old.
Grandma's pearls

Grandma's pearls


They all look faux to me. Also, they may have switched their boxes here and there. The Pacific Pearls are costume with iridescent coating. The Omar pearls sound like the Mallorca beads that became popular with the Rudolph Valentino movie Omar the Tentmaker. Omar pearls are actually Hollywood collectibles and vintage Majoricas also have some collectible value. In all, they seem to be in rather nice condition given their age although not cultured. However, their collectibility depends not just on the pearls but also on the preservation of the clasps and boxes. All three factors have to be maintained. If one is gone, the value of the whole thing is perdu.

I agree with Zeide. My first instinct upon seeing the pictures is that they are indeed all imitation. I have seen countless strands come into our office that look very similar to the pictures. They are all 'mother's' pearls, etc.
If you look carefully at most of the strands you will see a flat side on most of the pearls where the 'touch' or rub.
The strands would be cultured Akoya, but an ensemble of that many strands exhibiting no visible nacre peeling would be near impossible for most.
Lastly, one tag says Majorca - imitation. And a box says Omar - still imitation, Omar by Lotus was an imitation line.

My guess would be, if you hold the strands they will feel very light and 'cheap', not at all like a real strand.
They may be restrung, and done so quite inexpensively if they do have intrinsic value. I am not certain what restringing runs in Australia, but here the going rate is $10 - $15 per strand.
I tried the tooth test and they all seemed smooth except for one, but it was difficult to tell. On one set the actual coating came off! ewww! Also they all seem pretty light and it makes sense that if you have that many real pearls on a strand that it would be quite heavy. I think I will only have one set restrung, as it's paler than the others and quite sweet even if it is 'faux'. Thank you all so much for your informed comments. It's nice to get opinions from people who actually know what they're talking about. You have a wonderful website here and it's a great resource for a pearl novice like myself. Thanks again.