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Help Please. Could these be south sea pearls?

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
Messages
362
Hi, I have a concern. I bought online a pair of pearl earrings that are said to be south sea pearls. I really don't know.

They are small 8.3mm for ssp but they are in a older setting with transitional cut diamonds which would date the setting to the 40's 50's. I've learned SSP were not cultured into well into the 50's but its possible they are or were changed at a later date.

I like the color of the pearls which is white with some silver blue pink overtones & a wash of violet.

I paid $500 for them as they had some nice small diamonds. I was disappointed in finding out they are not white gold but looks like rhodium over yellow gold as you can see a copper metal under the white where it is scratched underneath during a gold test. The fading of the rhodium plating over time bothers me as well as they might just be akoya pearls.

Any advise? I really don;t want to have them appraised. She said she'd take them back if I did not like the rhodium plating but is telling me a story that all white gold is plated & since she says they are 18K only 25% of the alloy is white metal so thats why the dark red gold underneath.

If they are early small south sea pearls I'll deal with them not being white gold but if they are akoya I might send them back.

They are not marked except the screw back has a arrow with alot of feathers in back. Hope the photos came out ok...

Thank you in advance!
 

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Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
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362
They flouress a strong blue color under UV light...does that mean anything?

Closeup of pearl blob on back of pearl...also in some places there are wrinkles.

They are pretty if they are AKOYAS.
 

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la_corsetiere

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Jul 11, 2007
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1,032
The seller's response about the metal troubles me. If they are unmarked regarding karat, I suspect they might be plated base metal. Based on the size and color, my guess would be akoya, though they don't have the sharp luster one might expect. I look forward to hearing from those with more expertise!
 

BWeaves

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May 13, 2015
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All white gold is plated with rhodium to make it whiter. That is true, because white gold isn't bright white but pale yellow. The gold can be replated with rhodium, although I do not know whether the gems have to be removed in order to do that.

If I were you, I'd take the pearls into a jeweler and have them test the gold and the diamonds. It's not like getting an appraisal, but just checking that the gold is really gold and the diamonds are really diamonds. There's a penlike device they can touch to diamonds to verify they are real, and it takes barely a second.

To me, the pearls look like old akoyas that need a cleaning. They don't look big enough to be SS pearls.
 

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
Messages
362
I tested the diamonds with a pen diamond tester. They are OK. They look be be older transitional cu diamonds as they have a tiny flat culet at bottom the table is wide & the crown is flat. Don't think the pearls are dirty. I did give them a light clean.

The question is if the diamonds are old from the 40's 50's then south sea culture would have only begin in the 50's & the size of ssp could have come in 8.3mm.

I guess I have to draw attention to the wrinkles on some surfaces & the big blob of pearl on the back.

I don't think it would be good for a pearl to undergo a rhodium plating process but I am not a expert on that.

I'm still going to say that not all white gold is plated. There are very good alloys that are very white. but still it should be the pale yellow base not a deep copper.

Hmmmmm...I am leaning very much toward just returning them but I am fond of the white pearl with a wah of violet over it. It does look a bit different.

Thanks
 

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
Messages
362
They are engraved with an id # probably personal 4N482K. To me they look like they started out as screw on non pierced earrings.
I can see the nacre ex[posed on the back on one as they are cut end so not complete round pearl I'd guess it has to be a 1mm nacre but can't see far in under the pearl. 1mm on an good old 8.3 mm akoya is probably normal.

Viewed under hi power they are definitely old transitional cut diamonds & they stopped cutting those beyond the 40's but that does not mean the pearl was not replaced at a later date. One has a nice feather almost from end to center so I would not call that one a SI but most of the diamonds are nice color & quality.

Its an interesting piece & a learning lesson.

I'm going to lean on akoya as there is at times that green wash they get but I guess I'm more hoping they are more than they are.

If the pearls are period 40's then they are not cultured SSP which were not cultured into the 50's or natural SSP which I suppose would not flouress blue.

I compared to my best akoya & its about the same from a distance but I do love the violet wash upon close up.
I have a 7.75 mm Mikimoto in Pinkish Silver A grade from 2005 & it holds up to it kindly.

I think its a nice pearl but I have a few like it & maybe the $ would be better put toward a real SSP!
Trouble is if they look to me as nice as my Miki's then its sad to return them as that's pretty good & mikis cost over $500 in 8mm size too. My Miki is a A grade but its more like a AA+ in most other pearl grades.
I had many discussions at Mikimoto trying to determine the nacre thickness on there post 60's 70 pearls & it does seem they are less. I never could get a straight answer out of the Rep how much the min was.

Cleaned them again..that rippling wrinkling is in the pearl surface & not dirt so they are far from blemish free & luster is down but they do have a presence..


Oh my this has been daunting & thanks for the help.
 

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Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
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Not 18 K ...Test 14K

Not 18 K ...Test 14K

OK took out the acids & snuck a few tests in bathroom hoping it would be safe for the bird in the living room.
Gosh...
breathing acid is not good for me either
/
Anyway tested the unmarked backs & they are 14K...but I don;t think it held together too long.

Scraped at the copper colored metal under mounting & it appears to be white underneath or else all I did was smash some rhodium over the base & tested the post which also looks white underneath but /i really can't tell if I got under the rhodium.
I'm not sure but think rhodium should test more in the platinum range & should hold under 18K acid?

I am not sure where that copper colored scratches & discoloration comes from on the earrings but they don;t test 18K
Guess they could be 17K? but they do test 14K.


Blue line shows new fresh white gold underneath...???? Very strange oxidation going on where the metal was exposed.???

So 14K akoya old pearl diamonds??? What to do???
 

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amti

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May 26, 2014
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You seem to have a lot of doubts on this purchase. When in doubt, I return things. In the past, I purchased something expensive and talked myself into keeping it. Well, I hardly ever wear it. If I'm not in love with it at first, then I need to return it or else I've wasted my money. Have you tried them on? Do you like the way they look? Will you reach for them before reaching for your other 8mm studs?
 

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
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Ohhh that's the problem. I really like them on. They are balanced with the diamonds under the pearls & the pearl just seems nicer (whiter/ more silver) than mine but when I put them side by side its really not much different. My 8.2 seems to jut out more as its not cut at the end.

It is really hard to find decent older akoya pearls with nice old diamonds. So actually they are very nice but I was expecting more value for what I paid & I think I paid top price & they are 14 not 18K.

Just got a almost 8mm pair of pearl white gold studs that has a larger 10 point old mine diamond for $200 (they are 3rd from left in photo). They are really nice too & I was overjoyed to get them for that price. You just don't see the very old pearls with the old diamonds that are still in good condition. Old mine cut diamonds would date the earring to the 20's so had to be very early culture.

All in all I think they are better than my mikimoto & I can sell those & I've hradly worn them as I;ve been saving them...LOL

Still all the deception really bothers me
 

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
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Earshots...& sun vs non sun comparison with a 2005 pinkish silver miki A in center...eeecckkk...I guess nothing eally special but better than old dead beige akoya.

These are likely least 60 years old..

What I can see on my ears w my complexion is the pearl with 3 dia is much more white.silver while the sngle dia appears more cream rose...



I just like the silver!!!oooh I may have to keep them but I am going to complain about them being 14K not 18K as listed.

OOOh darn in person the so called south sea is just silvery white with a violet sheen...I've seen alot of old pearls & its really one of the best I have come across in a likely 60 + year old pearl if its period to the setting...

I've also seen another different arrow before & it was on my best 8.2mm pearl that came in a white gold screw back non pierced setting that I had converted to screw.

I'd really probably regret returning these...sighs///

I should go to Ventura Blvd & check out some real south seas & I'm sure then I will be dissatisfied with 60 year old akoya...
 

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BWeaves

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I like the style with the 3 diamonds. It does look nice and balanced. I agree with you that they are probably akoya and not SS. The scratches on the posts bother me a bit. It looks like everyone and his brother has been trying to test the metal.

I guess it will come down to do you like them enough that the price is worth it?
 

pammbw

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Nov 23, 2016
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They are beautiful earrings! If it were me, I would contact the seller and discuss my reservations about the pearls not being south sea but akoya, and maybe you could negotiate a discount instead of returning them? Would a lower price make any difference in your wanting to keep them or not?
 

amti

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I also recommend telling the seller your concerns and how you came up with them. Show them photos and proof. See if they will come down in price. Did they mention the scratches in the back? If not, I'd bring that up because that is a serious flaw imho. I also love the setting, but my personal opinion is that in your last photo, the middle pearl has the sharpest luster. Do the pearls you just purchased have spots on them or is that just from the camera?

You have to decide if the seller doesn't negotiate and tells you to send them back if you're not happy, if they are worth $400 to you.
 

amti

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Also, I was reading something about plumb gold recently and thought of your setting. This is copied from another website: "Until 1981, in the United States, manufacturers of jewelry could use gold that was 13.5 karat and round off, thus stamping it 14K."

This could explain why your setting failed the acid test at 18k. It could have been 17.5k instead of 18k.
 

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
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Yes alot of thinking to do. The middle pearl is a 12 yo mikimoto A grade so it is a good pearl. It does have the best luster & its pretty clean & have a really nice pinkish silver color but it just does not seem thick nacred.

I really do have to reevaluate as someone mentioned I seem to have alot of similar pearls.

I'm trying to draft soemthing to the seller. I don;t think they are yellow gold base anymore but don;t know why the scratshes are copper colored.

White gold is a bit harer to test esp if its rhodium plated. The listing says hallmarked 750 & they have no gold assay anywhere just the arrow on the screw. Wish I knew the maker but who knows if those screw backs are original. She can't say they are 18K unless they are marked or she tested them & if she tested them her acids would say 14K.


I like them really above all my white akoyas so its a hard decision & may have to pay a bit more but I will note all the inaccuracies & hope I can get a small credit.

They may just be plain white akya with not much of a overtone but I don;t like when they have a rose over cream sort of look which most older akoyas have.

They are not flawless pearls & not even perfectly round.There are wrinkles near the diamonds & a blob of big nacre on the back side.
I can see at least .5mm nacre in one section not under the mounting so they are thick nacred as most better ones were.

I just sold a pair a little rosie cream for me but it has nice blue overtones too. I just have a few too many similar.

I'll probably keep the mikimoto as I like that color & its hard to find at mikimoto.
 

Camelotshadow

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Rear shots...noticing some are more round than others. The new ones prob not SS sort of look like they were off round sort of bigger across top & bottom of pearl was cut.

Nice **** of luster *& color comp...The miki on the right looks very nice & its a good size too.:confused:
 

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Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
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I'm back thinking on the whhite pearl earrings that may be rhodium over yellow gold as I got them first so that decsion is urgent.

I don't like rhodium over yellow gold as its subject to wear. I still see copper colored gold inside the diam mountings & in places but I gave it a good deep scratch & its white metal under neath. I just don't know what would make it discolor a copper color but it tests 14K.

Looking at them last night from the back sode they are really off round cut off bottoms & different sized as one is much taller/deeper than the other but face up pretty symmetrical. I think they are from the 40's & I can see about 1mm of nacre on a cut exposed back at one point so there could be more but still they are thick.

I really like the color & they even look good in the sun which is rare for pearls...

So its been another hard decision!!!! I know I am overpating for them though & that bothers me but I saw $500 frewater button pearls in the jewelry store with no diamonds & a thin setting so you really can't replace them for the price paid..I just like deep bargains but sometimes you have to pay a little more...

Still if I throw both my "SS's" back I can get a monster nice new pair of pearls at PP...
 

rascalsally

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Mar 19, 2017
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Rhodium plating is an electroplating process; the plate will adhere only to the metal, not the gemstones. Rhodium is actually more expensive than Platinum. Most people who own white gold rings have them replated once a year to get that original shine back or if the yellow gold starts to wear through. The process takes just a few minutes depending on how dirty your piece is and how much cleaning they have to do before plating. Most jewelers will just allow you to wait the 10 minutes it takes to do.
 

Camelotshadow

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I wrote the seller who thinks all of her pearls are south seas... The earrings are not 18 K but 14K...

Hi,
I have reported copper colored scratches on settings & sent photos previously. I had the earrings tested.
I asked prior to buying what the mark on the earring screw was
I was told it was 750 for 18K gold. The earrings are not marked anywhere with 18K or 750. The marking in your photo is an arrow & makers mark. The earrings test 14K on an electronic tester & are positive for 14K with scratch test but are not 18K.
I don't know how you came to the conclusion that they were 18K/750 as they are not marked & they test 14K with common modern tests.
I have also been told they are not south sea pearls but Akoya. I did ask if they were south sea & you said they were.
I received 14K Akoya pearl earrings with copper scratches which may be rhodium plated over yellow gold & are not the 18K white gold south sea earrings that were described. White gold can be a yellowish hue but not bright red copper tone.

Selling 14K unmarked gold as 18K is not appropriate.

What are my options?

Thank You,
 
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