ID help appreciated

Samjoy

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What Kind of Pearls do I have? ID help appreciated
Can anyone please help me identify these pearls? Also, how do I measure to determine the pearl size? I inherited these strung pearls from my mom along with a baggie of some loose drilled pearls. I'd like to set the loose pearls in jewelry for my daughters and niece if I can find a jeweler who can do that. Thanks so much for any advice.
 
1. Please start by doing the "tooth test": Rub two of the pearls against each other gently, or against the biting edge of your front tooth (after wiping them clean!!) What do you feel?
Real pearls feel a bit gritty when rubbed this way.
Imitation pearls glide smoothly.
Test each necklace.

2. How long are the necklaces and how many pearls do they have? We can calculate approximate size that way.
You can also lay a millimeter ruler along the strand and photograph it.

3. Do the clasps have any stamps on them indicating metal? 14K, 585, 925 or whatever else. Examine each clasp.

4. Are they 100% round, or are some of the pearls a bit off-round? This can be distortion from the camera, or it could be that the pearls are actually a bit off-round. This is significant so look closely.
 
1. Please start by doing the "tooth test": Rub two of the pearls against each other gently, or against the biting edge of your front tooth (after wiping them clean!!) What do you feel?
Real pearls feel a bit gritty when rubbed this way.
Imitation pearls glide smoothly.
Test each necklace.

2. How long are the necklaces and how many pearls do they have? We can calculate approximate size that way.
You can also lay a millimeter ruler along the strand and photograph it.

3. Do the clasps have any stamps on them indicating metal? 14K, 585, 925 or whatever else. Examine each clasp.

4. Are they 100% round, or are some of the pearls a bit off-round? This can be distortion from the camera, or it could be that the pearls are actually a bit off-round. This is significant so look closely.
Thanks for your reply.

I did the tooth test and they does feel a bit gritty.

There are two 20" strands with 58 pearls each and two 24.5" strands - one with 65 pearls the other with 71. I can't find a ruler at the moment -I'm sorry.

Each clasp is stamped "14K".

The pearls appear round-ish but not perfectly round.

I vaguely remember my mom having long strands that she restrung into shorter strands years ago before she passed. Theres a bracelet too and I'm assuming that there were leftover loose pearls from that.

Thanks again for your help.
 
The 20" strands with 58 pearls would be about 8mm pearls.
Same goes for the 24.5" strand with 71 pearls.

The 24.5" strand with 65 pearls would be about 8.5mm pearls.

Given that they are gritty I'd say they are real cultured pearls, and then the question is freshwater or akoya?

How long ago did your mother get these?
Round freshwater pearls without a bead nucleus tend to be a bit off round. I first saw them in stores in the mid-aughts-- 2005-2006 or so. These could be FWP from that time. The fact that they have gold clasps (gold was cheaper then) and gimp (the little coil of wire protecting the thread near the clasp) indicates they were nice pearls. Not tippy top but nice.

They don't have high luster or overtones such as one would see with good akoyas.
Akoyas in 8+mm sizes would have been quite pricey compared to FWP.

I'm leaning toward calling them cultured FWP from China and am interested in others' thoughts.
 
I don't know for sure, but I think she must have gotten them in the late 1960s. This is also speculation, but my dad was in Vietnam then and my mom met him in Hawaii for R&R before he came home - so maybe they could be from one of those places.

I was looking in the bag of loose pearls and there was one that was broken in half - I'll attach a photo in case that helps.
 

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The one broken in half is definitely an imitation pearl. See the peeled off coating?
If the pearls are all the same as that one, then they are imitation. I have owned fake pearls that had a bit of variation in their shape throughout the strand.

It would be unusual to finish imitation strands with gimp and 14K clasps, though I suppose it could be done. Silver was not unusual for nice imitations. Gold used to be much less expensive than it is now.

There were no cultured round freshwater pearls in the 1960s. And clearly they are not south sea pearls.
That leaves imitation or akoyas for your pearls. But 8+mm akoyas would have been quite expensive. And many akoya strands in the 1960s would have been graduated strands. This makes me lean toward imitations. (Also the fact that they are very similar in color, have relatively low luster and have no overtones.)

Here is a test you could do if you have any pearls that you know to be real, or know to be fake:
Leave the strands to be compared in the same location for half an hour or so, so that they are exposed to the same ambient temperature. Then place one strand against your lips. Repeat with the pearls you know to be real or fake. Real pearls are cooler than fake glass pearls.

There is another test that will settle the question but it would be destructive to one pearl if it is a fake. It won't harm the pearl if it's real. Acetone (or nail polish remover) dissolves and removes imitation pearl coatings from the glass bead underneath. A wipe with acetone won't harm real pearls-- just don't soak them in acetone for a prolonged time.
 
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Also if you have a 10x jeweler's loupe (magnifier) you can examine the surface of the pearls and compare with pearls you know to be real or know to be fake.
Real nacre looks very smooth at 10x magnification. Imitation pearl coatings look coarser.
If you don't have a loupe, you could visit your friendly neighborhood jeweler and ask to have a look with their loupe, and to compare with real pearls they are selling.

I just want to add, sometimes people are not sure what they are feeling when they rub the pearls together. You could also compare what you feel when you rub together other pearls that you know to be real or fake. Sometimes when pearls are a bit grimy they can be somewhat sticky when rubbed. That is not the same as gritty.
 
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The one broken in half is definitely an imitation pearl. See the peeled off coating?
If the pearls are all the same as that one, then they are imitation. I have owned fake pearls that had a bit of variation in their shape throughout the strand.

It would be unusual to finish imitation strands with gimp and 14K clasps, though I suppose it could be done. Silver was not unusual for nice imitations. Gold used to be much less expensive than it is now.

There were no cultured round freshwater pearls in the 1960s. And clearly they are not south sea pearls.
That leaves imitation or akoyas for your pearls. But 8+mm akoyas would have been quite expensive. And many akoya strands in the 1960s would have been graduated strands. This makes me lean toward imitations. (Also the fact that they are very similar in color, have relatively low luster and have no overtones.)

Here is a test you could do if you have any pearls that you know to be real, or know to be fake:
Leave the strands to be compared in the same location for half an hour or so, so that they are exposed to the same ambient temperature. Then place one strand against your lips. Repeat with the pearls you know to be real or fake. Real pearls are cooler than fake glass pearls.

There is another test that will settle the question but it would be destructive to one pearl if it is a fake. It won't harm the pearl if it's real. Acetone (or nail polish remover) dissolves and removes imitation pearl coatings from the glass bead underneath. A wipe with acetone won't harm real pearls-- just don't soak them in acetone for a prolonged time.
I really do think the pearls are from the 60s at the latest. She really loved them so I'd be really surprised if they are imitation. The clasp is definitely solid gold too. They've been put away for a long time so I'll also look up how to clean them and see if that changes their appearance.

Now that I look closer, the loose pearls in the bag with the broken one are a bit smaller and bit different color from the strands.

I'll take a look at the other bag of loose pearls and try the methods you suggested. Thanks for your help!
 
My mother was given a strand of pearls she loved by my grandmother in the late 1960s. She and my grandmother and the rest of us all thought they were real. They turned out to be imitations- the best made ones-- Majorica. She treasured them until she died.

My mother in law had a strand given to her by her husband that she treasured. All of us thought they were real pearls. (She and her husband did, too.) After they both passed away, and we had to deal with the estate, I took a good look at them, and found they were imitations! Prestige pearls.

My mother's treasured "aquamarine" ring turned out to be synthetic spinel.
My grandmother's "aquamarine" studs set in 18K gold turned out to be glass.

Just saying...people sometimes don't know what they have, and even if they do, they may treasure it anyway. Whether for sentimental reasons or just because they find it beautiful.
 
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Also! Imitation pearls were very, very common in the 1950s and 1960s. Many ladies wore them.
Jackie Kennedy's famous 3 strand pearl necklace were imitations made by Kenneth Jay Lane.
Same for Barbara Bush's pearls.

Many wealthy ladies owned (and own) both real pearls and imitations. The stories in the book People & Pearls are great reading.
Kate Middleton had some lovely imitation earrings.
 
Sorry to ramble on but a fun thread about imitations (with photos galore) is here:
 
Very true. The value of any of them doesn't really matter to me at all. But I do hate a mystery and now wish that I asked her about them. LOL
 
You wanted to know how to clean them. This is what I do:

Get a bottle of distilled water (to eliminate chlorine and hard water minerals.)

To a bowl of distilled water add a bit of mild liquid soap, such as Bronner's baby soap, which is unscented. Soak for 15 minutes or so, then wipe off grime with a soft cloth and a swab to get in tight spots between the pearls. Rinse in distilled water. Lay them on a soft clean towel to dry for 24 hours. (The silk inside the drill hole is slower to dry.)
 
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