Our pearls are a mystery. Can someone help solve this for my mom.

TraceD

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Joined
Jul 25, 2022
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Hello. I am turning to this forum in hopes of uncovering the mystery surrounding my mom's pearls.
My father bought this strand while he was stationed in Korea from 1950-1953. He gave it to my mom in a Mikimoto box. They always thought they were Mikimoto cultured pearls. Until today. She planned to have them restrung at Mikimoto in NYC. Red flag for me was they are not knotted. Anywhere along the strand. Second flag was the clasp has no Mikimoto stamp. Third is inside the clasp on the hook it is engraved NAOMI. I had to break the news to my mom that her pearls are not Mikimoto and that they would not restring them for her. Was this a common thing to happen at the time?
 

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Hi TraceD,

These are clearly very sentimental pearls, whether or not they are Mikimoto. That is their true value.

Perhaps over the course of all these years they were restrung at some point, possibly more than once? It would be normal to restring pearls every year or two if the pearls are worn regularly, since the silk gets dirty and weakened, with the risk of breakage and loss of the pearls. If it was restrung, perhaps the clasp was changed for some reason. It's really only the clasp that identifies a strand as Mikimoto, especially without Mikimoto documentation. Maybe they were knotted originally and the restringer didn't knot them.

Or they could just be another brand of pearls. No one can be sure of how they came to be in that particular box. But since the box was part of the gift, it, too, has some sentimental value.

Clearly the pearls need to be restrung (after a brief bath in mild soapy water, wiping any grime away with a soft cloth, and drying them on a soft towel.)
It is not hard to string pearls; many of us do it, and it saves money. With synthetic thread it's easy to make the knots go where you want them to, without needing to use tools. If you are so inclined, see the tutorial sticky on the Lowly Beaders Club forum.

If your mother likes the length as it is now, you could just put knots between the end 3 pearls on each side of the clasp.
If she is finding the fishhook clasp harder to manage with aging fingers, you could choose a clasp that works better for her. A magnetic clasp, even.
 
Hi TraceD,

These are clearly very sentimental pearls, whether or not they are Mikimoto. That is their true value.

Perhaps over the course of all these years they were restrung at some point, possibly more than once? It would be normal to restring pearls every year or two if the pearls are worn regularly, since the silk gets dirty and weakened, with the risk of breakage and loss of the pearls. If it was restrung, perhaps the clasp was changed for some reason. It's really only the clasp that identifies a strand as Mikimoto, especially without Mikimoto documentation. Maybe they were knotted originally and the restringer didn't knot them.

Or they could just be another brand of pearls. No one can be sure of how they came to be in that particular box. But since the box was part of the gift, it, too, has some sentimental value.

Clearly the pearls need to be restrung (after a brief bath in mild soapy water, wiping any grime away with a soft cloth, and drying them on a soft towel.)
It is not hard to string pearls; many of us do it, and it saves money. With synthetic thread it's easy to make the knots go where you want them to, without needing to use tools. If you are so inclined, see the tutorial sticky on the Lowly Beaders Club forum.

If your mother likes the length as it is now, you could just put knots between the end 3 pearls on each side of the clasp.
If she is finding the fishhook clasp harder to manage with aging fingers, you could choose a clasp that works better for her. A magnetic clasp, even.
Thank you so much for replying. Personally for me it's an objects story that means the most and is the most interesting. For my mom, for some reason it was important that both she and my dad thought they were Mikimoto. It was a bit of a let down for her to find they were not. But she still wants to have them restrung with a magnetic clasp. I would love to do this for her myself if she would agree.
No, they were never restrung before.
 
I hope she agrees-- she should be able to keep enjoying them!

I have a few stories, too.

When I was a teenager, my grandmother, on one of her visits back to Italy, bought my mother a strand of Majorica pearls, which they both believed to be real pearls. Mom loved those pearls! Many years later I realized they were imitations-- the best imitations, but fake nonetheless. But my mother wore them all the time, even when she was very old and had dementia. It meant everything to her that they had been a gift from her mother. She would wear them in the shower and to bed! I restrung them for her with Serafil (an excellent synthetic thread) because she would spill food on them; I could wash them and it didn't hurt the synthetic thread. She is gone now, but I still have that strand.

My FIL bought a strand of pearls for my MIL which they and the rest of the family thought were real. She wore them with great pride. After they both passed away and it fell to us to handle their estate, I examined the strand and the box they came in. They were imitations by Prestige.

The fact that they were fake in no way impaired their enjoyment of the pearls. The sentiment was real.

Which brings me to a delicate subject. Are you sure the Naomi pearls are real? I've seen reference to some old Naomi pearls online that seem to be imitations. Imitation pearls were very common in that time period.

Do a quick test-- rub two of the pearls together gently. I suggest using pearls near the clasp, to avoid any risk of scratching center pearls. Imitation pearls glide smoothly against each other (although if they are grimy they may feel a bit sticky); real nacre feels gritty.
I really hesitated to write this. But isn't it better to know?

By the way, I actually strung some real pearl necklaces for my mother, when she was very old. But she still preferred the Majoricas that her mom had given her.
 
I hope she agrees-- she should be able to keep enjoying them!

I have a few stories, too.

When I was a teenager, my grandmother, on one of her visits back to Italy, bought my mother a strand of Majorica pearls, which they both believed to be real pearls. Mom loved those pearls! Many years later I realized they were imitations-- the best imitations, but fake nonetheless. But my mother wore them all the time, even when she was very old and had dementia. It meant everything to her that they had been a gift from her mother. She would wear them in the shower and to bed! I restrung them for her with Serafil (an excellent synthetic thread) because she would spill food on them; I could wash them and it didn't hurt the synthetic thread. She is gone now, but I still have that strand.

My FIL bought a strand of pearls for my MIL which they and the rest of the family thought were real. She wore them with great pride. After they both passed away and it fell to us to handle their estate, I examined the strand and the box they came in. They were imitations by Prestige.

The fact that they were fake in no way impaired their enjoyment of the pearls. The sentiment was real.

Which brings me to a delicate subject. Are you sure the Naomi pearls are real? I've seen reference to some old Naomi pearls online that seem to be imitations. Imitation pearls were very common in that time period.

Do a quick test-- rub two of the pearls together gently. I suggest using pearls near the clasp, to avoid any risk of scratching center pearls. Imitation pearls glide smoothly against each other (although if they are grimy they may feel a bit sticky); real nacre feels gritty.
I really hesitated to write this. But isn't it better to know?

By the way, I actually strung some real pearl necklaces for my mother, when she was very old. But she still preferred the Majoricas that her mom had given her.
Your thoughts were mine exactly. I was thinking maybe the are imitation. I'm having a hard time telling. I am questioning a few spots I noticed near the drill hole of a couple of the pearls.
 

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Hmm, they may be imitation. The photo is a little blurry. It looks a bit like imitation coating that has peeled away there.

I'm looking the the drill hole of the pearl that is 2 pearls below that one and it seems to me the drill hole is on the large side for a real pearl. Imitation pearls often have larger drill holes than real pearls (this is not always true, though; the best imitations have small holes.) Real pearls are sold by weight, so the holes are drilled small to conserve weight.

Could you examine the pearls closely for any blemishes on the surfaces and post close up photos in the best focus possible? All real pearl necklaces have some small defects, the appearance of which may help us identify them. If there are no flaws at all other than the drill holes you noticed, I lean toward thinking they are fake.

Do you have a 10x jeweler's loupe? If so examine the surface of the pearls. Real nacre is very smooth looking at 10x magnification, but imitation pearl coating is a bit coarser looking. If in doubt, compare with any other pearls you have that you know are real or that you know are fake.

Another reason I'm thinking they may be imitation is the metal of the clasp. Is it marked anywhere with 10K, 14K, 585 or the like? A real pearl necklace might have a silver clasp, but I have yet to see one with a base metal clasp.
 
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Also.
Glass imitation pearls are just a little warmer than real pearls. You'd have to have another strand to compare with, and both strands would have to have been in the same temperature environment for a little while first.
 
Hi TraceD,

These are clearly very sentimental pearls, whether or not they are Mikimoto. That is their true value.

Perhaps over the course of all these years they were restrung at some point, possibly more than once? It would be normal to restring pearls every year or two if the pearls are worn regularly, since the silk gets dirty and weakened, with the risk of breakage and loss of the pearls. If it was restrung, perhaps the clasp was changed for some reason. It's really only the clasp that identifies a strand as Mikimoto, especially without Mikimoto documentation. Maybe they were knotted originally and the restringer didn't knot them.

Or they could just be another brand of pearls. No one can be sure of how they came to be in that particular box. But since the box was part of the gift, it, too, has some sentimental value.

Clearly the pearls need to be restrung (after a brief bath in mild soapy water, wiping any grime away with a soft cloth, and drying them on a soft towel.)
It is not hard to string pearls; many of us do it, and it saves money. With synthetic thread it's easy to make the knots go where you want them to, without needing to use tools. If you are so inclined, see the tutorial sticky on the Lowly Beaders Club forum.

If your mother likes the length as it is now, you could just put knots between the end 3 pearls on each side of the clasp.
If she is finding the fishhook clasp harder to manage with aging fingers, you could choose a clasp that works better for her. A magnetic clasp, even.
This is just a PERFECT answer. Thank you dear @Pearl Dreams
 
Also.
Glass imitation pearls are just a little warmer than real pearls. You'd have to have another strand to compare with, and both strands would have to have been in the same temperature environment for a little while first.
You can actually FEEL the difference between real nacre and the "pearlescense": real nacre is smooth, silky and fresh to the touch. The opposite for the imitation pearls. Lips are very good at "feeling" this difference.
 
You can actually FEEL the difference between real nacre and the "pearlescense": real nacre is smooth, silky and fresh to the touch. The opposite for the imitation pearls. Lips are very good at "feeling" this difference.
That's me...smooth, silky and fresh to the touch!:cool:
 
I have had a few genuine vintage mikimoto strands that have not been individually knotted between. Apparently at the time approx 1950s they where not knotted between each pearl if the strand was graduated. So don't worry this is normal. If it bothers you, you can have them restrung with individual knots between, its quite expensive but is worth it to protect your Mikimoto pieces for the future. You should take them into your local jeweller they should be able to tell you if they are real or not.
 
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I have had a few genuine vintage mikimoto strands that have not been individually knotted between. Apparently at the time approx 1950s they where not knotted between each pearl if the strand was graduated. So don't worry this is normal. If it bothers you, you can have them restrung with individual knots between, its quite expensive but is worth it to protect your Mikimoto pieces for the future. You should take them into your local jeweller they should be able to tell you if they are real or not.
The jeweller may be able to tell you of the pearls are real or imitation but not if they are Mikimoto. I recommend trying to learn how to tell the difference yourself, though. Also, restringing doesn't have to be expensive. You can learn to do it yourself. Many of us do. There are tutorials here on the forum.
 
I can't see where anyone has pointed out that a non-Miki clasp does not mean the pearls didn't come from Miki. Clasps break and are replaced. pearls get strung onto new clasps. Poor pearls get strung onto Miki clasps for ebay sales.
 
I can't see where anyone has pointed out that a non-Miki clasp does not mean the pearls didn't come from Miki. Clasps break and are replaced. pearls get strung onto new clasps. Poor pearls get strung onto Miki clasps for ebay sales.
That is indeed another possibility Wendy. Thank you for pointing it out (y)
 
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