Help Identifying Inherited Pearls


New Member
Apr 28, 2024

I've searched the other threads and didn't see anything similar so I'm posting here. I have two pearl necklaces that I've inherited and need some help identifying them. I know little to nothing about jewelry. I've spent hours trying to research online and couldn't find anything similar. Any help is so appreciated as these are from my husbands late, estranged great grandmother.

Some clues:
  • The box I received them in says "Marmod-Jaccard-King Jewelry co." Both sets were in the same box. No paperwork or any other identifying items were with them. This might not be their box.
  • These were his great grandmother so, I would assume she got them any where between 1920-1950?? Possibly even earlier if she had also inherited them. I am not totally sure about age on this, we weren't close with her so it's really hard to gauge. I'm not even sure how old she was when she passed, that would really tell me though. I'm just guessing based on other grandparents that might have been aged similarly.
  • I've left both of these in the same area/temperature for a few hours and set a is cool, but set b is much cooler.
  • I don't have a magnifying anything aside from my phone camera, if it comes down to a tie I can order one. I also didn't do the acetone test, save that for last since it could be destructive. I also want to note, I have not cleaned these in any way, as I'm not entirely sure how to do so without potentially damaging them.

Set A: (I suspect is imitation)
31" Long folded in half. (So clasped, and measured length as if you were wearing it.) 167 pearls in total.
Knots in between pearls.
Feels smooth when rubbing two pearls against each other.
Most are quite yellowed but not all.
Generally most of them are pretty round
Pretty basic looking clasp, gold colored with wear, no markings of any kind to indicate material, spec or brand.

Set B:
18" Long in total (not folded in half, the clasp is broken.) 103 pearls in total.
No Knots in between pearls, but I suspect this has been re-strung possibly due to the broken clasp and the amount of times it looks to have been tied back on.
Feels gritty when rubbing two pearls against each other.
Most are on the 'whiter' side with a warm undertone.
Graduated Pearls in size. Most are kind of 'off shaped' when you look closely at them but overall round. Some have small pits.
Very intricate clasp that I cannot seem to find any that look just like this one. It looks similar to Mikimoto clasp, but not exactly. There is also no Mikimoto stamp on the back. The back of the clasp simply says 'silver'. She did have two sets of Mikimoto pearl earrings in a box so it wouldn't be too far off for her to have a necklace as well but without the mark/unknotted I'm hesitant to say.

Thank you for reading. :)


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"A" are imitations.
"B" look like cultured akoya pearls.

The imitations are worth nothing in terms of resale value. Unless you are sentimental about them, I'd toss them.

The akoyas do not appear to be Mikimoto, based on the clasp, and as I understand it you don't have paperwork stating they are Mikimoto. Even if there are Mikimoto earrings, you cannot assume the strand is Mikimoto; many people can afford Miki earrings but not a Miki strand.

These graduated strands (commonly called momme strands, or 3.5 momme strands, momme being a unit of weight) were common in WWII/Korean War era. Many men working in that military theater brought these strands home to their sweethearts. Being graduated made them lighter weight strands and hence more affordable to military men (pearls are sold by weight so these cost less to produce than straight-size strands.) After the 1960s one sees see more straight size strands. So I think you have a fair idea of how old they likely are.

As the WWII/Korean war generation are dying off, more of these graduated akoya strands are passing to heirs, many of whom have no idea what to do with them. Because they often are grimy from much wearing (which conceals their luster) and often need restringing (which is pricey if you have to pay someone to do it), it's not unusual for them to end up in consignment shops and sold for a pittance. I found 3 such strands for a great price.

So I think you need to think about whether you want to be able to wear them. If so, you really need to clean and restring them. It can cost $3/inch or more to pay someone to do it but it's not hard and many of us restring our own pearls.

Give them a bath. Use distilled water to avoid both chlorine and hard water minerals, with a bit of mild soap added, soak for 15 minutes and wipe clean with a soft cloth, then rinse with distilled water and let them dry for a day or so on a soft towel.

To restring, see my tutorial here:

If you do not want to keep and wear them, you may still wish to wash and restring them in order to get a better price for them. To see what pre-owned graduated vintage pearl necklaces tend to sell for, check SOLD listings of similar strands on eBay. They don't go for big bucks, though. Pre-owned pearls do not tend to hold their value, and the market now prefers whiter, straight-size stands.

If you want to sell them but don't want to be bothered to restring them, at least wash them so potential buyers will see their luster. The buyer will then need to restring them. So they probably won't want to pay much for them.
My first thought was: A are imitations and probably need to be tossed. B are 1950's era akoya pearls that need a good wash and a restringing.