Presumed Natural Sea Pearls with a Pedigree


Well-known member
May 21, 2013
Hello everyone, my name is Paul, and I'm a jewellery addict. I get my kicks hunting for treasure in all the usual places, fleamarkets, antique fairs, on-line, etc.

I've been interested in pearls for a while, and found a few strings of vintage Mikimotos, but recently had an exceptional score of what I believe to be natural pearls.

My opinion that they are naturals is based on appearance, the seed pearl spacers, and the Retailer's mark in their fitted case.

They were in a sorry state, and today I got them back from being cleaned and restrung, and I'd be keen to have the forums' critique of my find.

Sorry pics are not the best, I'm still trying to work out how to show them close to their true colours. The first one below is with a flash and is reasonable.

I'll post my description below, then some better pics tomorrow in an additional post.

A Double String of presumed Natural Sea Pearls

The Clasp, 10mm x 5mm in 15ct gold, fronted with silver, and set with 2 rose cut diamonds, with attached 9ct gold jump rings to hold a double string of pearls.

String 1) 129 presumed natural sea pearls, in a graduated string of 6mm to 2.5mm, all fitted with seed pearl spacers, except the last 10 on each side, with a total length of 440mm.

String 2) Again presumed natural sea pearls, the central group of 15 pearls graduated from 4.7mm to 3.2mm and fitted with seed pearl spacers, with the remaining 152 pearls knotted and graduating down to 1mm, with a total length of 390mm.

Cased by Charles Packer & Co. of 76 & 78 Regent Street, London (Packer traded under this name 1880-1917, see below).

Charles Packer was a premier supplier of pearl 'beads' (as they were called) and coral in Regent Street, London from the circa 1839, with jewellery now represented in the collection of the British Museum, cf:


From 1880 the business traded as Charles Packer & Co. This address inside the lid of the case effectively dates these pearls 1880-1917. The style of the clasp suggests late Victorian, probably 1890-1900.

From 1917 the company traded as Charles Packer & Co Ltd. They closed in 1932, a casualty of the hugely successful arrival of the Mikimoto cultured pearl industry, which made 'pearls' available to everyone, rendering natural pearls prohibitively expensive by comparison.

For a similar single string with seed pearl spacers see:


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They could be naturals, but we would like to see more close up photos of everything. Pearls from the ends and the middles of the two strands would be nice to see, though it looks pretty typical to me with one small photo. This is not a full endorsement.:) put up more pix!
I've changed these pics to show more realistic colours, these are pretty close to the reality
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Thank you! Some better colors would be nice, too. It would be great to see the actual colors. We don't see these very often and yours looks like it has the right pedigree and look. We would love to have an accurate color record of them for future learners.

Would you keep this one or sell it as you probably don't wear it? Do you have an other who could wear it? Those can be worn everyday for generations and still not wear out. In a way I am sorry they came with the box; if they hadn't, they might get worn more....or restrung into a rope or something .
Hi Caitlin, actually our jewellery gets worn a lot, I collect it, and my wife wears it with relish. These will get an outing real soon.

I sometimes sell minor pieces or move an item on to upgrade to something better, don't think these will be sold anytime soon.

I live in New Zealand, which is pretty remote, and this is the first set of real pearls I've seen in the flesh, so chance of finding another is as remote as our location.

Still ... London bus theory could apply ... never see one, then two come along at once!

Interested in people's comments as to quality, rarity, etc.
If any more come along, grab them too!. Your pearls are fairly average Persian Gulf pearls, compared to others I have seen online. They taper from 6+ mm in front to teensy ones, and lots of them, in back, which makes it an average natural necklace, except for the clasp. That kicks the value up.
The pearls are good in every way. Just enough variation to look natural.

Really round pearls or ones larger than 6.6mm are rare, so yours are in the typical range of sizes in an average strand of naturals .
Less than average naturals have pearls that are quite small, chunky and yellowish -often looking like little baby teeth.

Fine strands have a high % of round, and larger pearls. Fine strands are in a different category of value than average strands, and mortals like us would hardly ever see one, except in photos or a museum, let alone own one.

I can picture a very fashionable Edwardian woman wearing the above. She could have worn those with pride in London, or anywhere else. You are very lucky.

This is one of the best "found an old pearl necklace" stories I have seen in a long time.

More pictures, please. Maybe a neck shot. We NEVER get neck shots of natural pearls, so it would be great if you could......
Hi Caitlin, your opinion is pretty much in line with my conclusion. I was thinking they would have been upmarket in their day, purchased from Regent Street. I played Monopoly today with my 10yo daughter and when I landed on Regent Street I thought of a young debutante getting a lovely gift from father for her coming-out ball. Very late Victorian/Edwardian. But not mega-valuable fine jewels worth squillions.

Unfortunately I didn't get them for a song at a flea market. I had to fight off some other bidders in the local auctions because the family selling had done their research on the label in the lid, and had a certified valuation because of the obvious diamonds in the clasp. However their bad condition, with rotting threads of tiny pearls, scared off the punters, leaving just me and a couple of other treasure hunters. The pearls came up a treat with re-stringing, although I feel my jeweller over-polished the clasp. It looks a bit too shiny to me. Still the silver front will mellow with time.

With the refurbishment I'm into them for about USD$800/GBP?500. However I'm pretty pleased at that. I'm thinking wholesale is at least double that, and retail is at least double again. I think the box/provenance helps them along. IMHO naturals are a great investment, they ain't making them like this any more,

And they do look a million bucks when worn. I'll see if I can encourage a photo shoot from one of my belles, they're a bit shy of their pics on-line, but hopefully we'll get there.
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Crop the photo above the neck. None of us put our faces up online in these shots.

You got a very good deal. About 5 years ago, that would have been about right, but today, it is worth more than a second hand Mikimoto with paperwork and box. People like Kari of kari pearls would probably put it up for $3k at least, not counting diamond.
They are so so beautiful. Good for you, for scooping these. Thanks for fixing the photos. If you didn't do it, I would have done it for you just to see what they really look like.

Caitlin's advice is spot-on. And yes, we need a neck-shot! ;)
Hi all, added the neck shot above, not the greatest photo I've ever taken, if I can get a better one I'll edit it another time, cheers.
Thanks for remembering us! We love to see pearls like this being worn. That is just about a perfect natural pearl necklace for a mortal!
Paul, your necklace is also stunning. A real beauty with a beautiful clasp. Great finds. Well worth what you paid for them. Isn't it amazing the filthy condition some pearls are sold in. And how stunning they look when cleaned properly.

I am sure your wife must love your pearl passion.

Dawn - Bodecia
eBay Seller ID dawncee333 Natural pearl collector & seller. And all round pearl lover.
So finally I have the report back on the double string of natural pearls discussed in this thread, and I'll load a copy below.

It clearly states they are natural pearls and I do have the original x-rays. These are only about the size of a large postage stamp.
Naively I expected the x-rays to be actual size, however they're so small it's so not easy to show them.

Over the weekend I'll play around illuminating them in my light box and see if I can photograph and enlarge them so the forum can see them in detail.

I sent the pearls to Dennis Blacklaws in Wellington via his Auckland agent, and expected that Dennis would do the report.
However the local agent wrote up the report based on the x-rays.
I would've preferred the report written by the appraiser who actually took the x-rays, and will probably request it be re-done by him.

However I'm very happy, my "presumed natural pearls with a pedigree" are now "natural pearls with a pedigree", a great result!

Congratulations Paul,

Wonderful for you. Do tell us more about your Poe Pipi when you get the full results back. I will check that thread in a minute.

Now check my thread which I am about to send off. :) You were my inspiration or rather your pearl. :)

I will start a thread up for my naturals soon but am busy at the moment and I will need to take a lot of time and care trying to get really good photos.
Thanks again for pushing me to do that too.

Dawn - Bodecia
eBay Seller ID dawncee333 Natural pearl collector & seller. And all round pearl lover.