Purple fade


purveyor of pearls UK/EU
Aug 18, 2007
Some years ago we had a long discussion on fading in purple bead nuked pearls. As you may have spotted, the GIA investigated some Edison pearls (given by the company) and it turned out that some of that batch were dyed and some weren't. Which was a bit confusing but explained the spotty and unpredictable situation we've experienced.
Just this last week someone ordered a pair of purple drops from me and when I went to pack them... a rather pleasant lilac pair.
This time I can be definitive. I have the photos:

Seem like two very different pairs there! Are these supposed to be the same???
That is some fading. And so very pretty before fading. My purple edisons from you are still as purple as when I bought them luckily.
They are the same pearls. Before and after, Douglas. That's extreme purple fade. And that's after I had kept them off sale for at least six months before listing them.
Here's a couple more


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Wow that's some fading ! I was always concerned about the darker colours and had asked at Paspaley when I was there doing my wholesale shopping . They told me at the time , about 4 years ago, that the colourful freshwaters were dyed and some colours held up better than others. Since then I've kept an eye on the purples that I have and there's been no colour change. However , I had picked up 4 very large beautiful deep Blue Grey Freshwater baroques that I thought to use as pendants. They confirmed that they were dyed. Normally I wouldn't have touched dyed pearls but thought the colour was beautiful and I'd give them a try. Having tucked them away for a couple of years I brought them out and discovered that even in a dark drawer...they had faded considerably. Now a mid to light blue grey.

I think the only answer is to sell with the proviso that if the colour fades a full/total refund of all costs will be done. I'd also suggest taking a photo of the colour prior to shipping.
Wow! That is indeed what I would call "Faded Glory" :17:
And this is an issue always with Chinese freshwater pearls...you simply cannot really rely on authentic (natural) colors since the vast majority of the pearls are processed.
This really puts me off buying any higher priced freshwater pearls :pat:. I absolutely adore the beautiful purple colour but I can’t deal with the colour/quality not lasting.
I have been lucky with the freshwaters that I have bought. Some I have had for years. But then I have mostly bought them from Pearlescence and Druzydesign.
Anyone know how the colour of the acres of fake gold south seas and fake Tahitians pearls the company is producing are holding up? There's no shame in wearing a strand of dyed FW which look remarkably like gold south sea, so long as you bought them as freshwater at a freshwater price. I have a strand (not from the company in question) which is an amazing (better) dye job.
Over time, the purple (flat spots mainly) in my natural specimens have faded to white. No so much by disappearing but for being occluded by reverted calcite.

Seeing how purple tends to be the narrowest bandwidth and closely associated to prismatic structures, it stands to reason it's the first to go.

Post harvest treatment ought not to look at color insomuch as stabilizing the surrounding matrixes to preserve natural color and orient.
Recently, I was deciding on a strand of pearls to wear. My eye was drawn to my “Holy Grail” large freshwater pearls.which I hadn’t worn in quite some time. I almost didn’t recognize them. Although still lustrous they were meh. All the purple shades had faded and now showed mostly peach and pink. Now I understand why.
Luvglitz how long have you had that strand? I just had a quick look at my rainbow strand and my purple rainbow huggies in the cold winter light. And the colors and luster are just as when I bought them, at least two years ago. So has anyone figured out yet how they do get those intense colors of some of the edisons? Has anyone seen them harvested? If not that is something we want to know. Not the secret recipe, like the Coca-Cola one, more to be sure of the longevity of the pearls and if or if not they are dyed or processed in any way. Is there any standards that should be upheld, internationally? And what of all the other colors? Might they fade and alter? My old ripple pearls that I have had for maybe 4-5 years had some pretty intense colors and they still have that. Are they also processed or whatever? Or is it just the edisons/beadnucleated freshwater pearls?
A photo I took today on my window sill, since I cannot get to my photostudio aka the outdoors room at the summercabin. Not a great photo but at least you can see the colors, still vibrant.
Fascinating, and worrisome. Thank you all for the perspectives, data and information. Interesting that even in Lagoon Island naturals, the purple pigments fade. It's never made sense to me that the same creatures that produced pale peaches, pinks, cream, white etc. in freshwater pearls would suddenly begin to produce jewel tones in large sizes simply because a nucleus was added, unless some other factors were at play. As Wendy says, no shame so long as you're not mislead or mischarged. So far, my few FW nucleated look fine, but I only have one large strand (copper, burgundy, rose etc)., one pair of earrings, and one large single pearl ... so far so good.
If you study a few shells you can see all the colours. They are in there genetically. For eg, some white South Sea shells show a real pink touch. Pink SS pearls are out there but very unusual.
As to why molluscs have such colour when they are down in the dark, don't have eyes and don't need pretty colours to pull a mate...I've never seen an evolutionarily sound explanation.
Nobody should ever be shamed of buying nor wearing "enhanced" or "processed" (dyed/irradiated/bleached) pearls at all. No shame at all!
Issue here is: when you are buying pearls that have been treated, when you wanted the real deal.
And it is quite an issue, both for the customer or the pearl purveyor...who may believe he/she is selling the true-blues or deep-purples.
When a wholesaler sells you a group of 100 pearls and 10 are dyed...you have no way of truly knowing. Your reputation may tarnish over this and you have no control.
Thanks for the article!
It has always fascinated me...why does a color blind creature that cannot even see its own shell would produce such a beautiful shell?
And of course, the animals don't care about the colors...it's just Evolution that helped them decide on using a kind of shell (nacreous) over the other one, and the crystals are the ones that are actually making all of these (colors) possible...but heck! That beauty certainly is Poetic!