Small in stature..BIG on appearance!


Sep 18, 2017
Howdy Pearl-people! I could sure use a bit of your knowledge.. but first... the questions at hand:

1. Do the pearls feel slightly gritty or smooth when rubbed gently against another pearl (or against the edge of your tooth, if there is only one pearl?) Please rub gently!
If they are gritty, they are likely to be real nacre (genuine pearls.) If they feel smooth, they are likely imitation pearls.


2. Please provide clear, in-focus photos without flash against a white background (a paper towel works nicely.)
Include close-ups of the clasp (front and back) and a few of the pearls. If there are flaws, include a photo of those. Also the box they came in, and tags if you have them.





3. Any history you can give us about the pearls. Where/when you or your relative got them, any documentation you have (receipts, appraisals), their price range if you know it, etc.

Inherited these when my mother passed. Out of a box of glass and plastic faux, these were the treasure. They had belonged to my Great-Grandmother, which I believe puts them out of age-range for cultured? So far my guess is South Sea champagne.. really need help with maker ID and other leads into how to value... opinions wanted!

Heres a shot of UV luminescence. From bottom moving clockwise: glass, these, and plastic


4. Describe any marks on the clasp. These may be numbers (14K, 585, 750, 925 etc.) or brand names or even pictures. If the clasp has stones, have you had them tested, or do you have documentation about what they are?

14k white gold clasp with an "S"? mark and an arrow through a circle hallmark of some sort.


5. Measure the pearls, with a millimeter ruler if possible. If they are graduated, measure the largest and smallest pearls.

About 2.6mm small end to 7mm center. I thought maybe the knots at the ends may be an indication of maker?



apologies for the sideways photos!
They are way too small to be South Sea pearls. If they are real, they are probably cultured akoya pearls that have yellowed with age from being in a box and not being worn. Or they could be imitation pearls, which would also be from the same time period. I have some rather yellowed Richelieu imitation pearls from my grandmother which have the same sort of coloration.

The trademark on the clasp is probably for the company that manufactured the clasp, and not the maker of the necklace. It's a very generic, basic clasp. The knots do not tell you who made the necklace. There's only a couple of different ways of knotting and everyone who strings pearls uses those techniques. For graduated strands, they were often strung without knots for most of the necklace, but there had to be a way to secure the thread at the ends, so there would be knots between the last 2 or 3 pearls.

My recommendation is to have the pearls gently washed and restrung, and then wear them, enjoy them, and think of your Great Grandmother!
I agree with BWeaves.

I would like to see a close up of any blemishes the strand has. Genuine pearl strands will have some blemishes. If there are none, they are likely imitation pearls.
I see some engraving on the sides of the clasp... looks like a 4 k and e... if it is supposedly 14ke, that could mean it is 14k electroplate. The highly metallic shine and slightly orange color from your pearls makes me wonder if they might be imitation as well.
They look like akoya pearls to me. The third picture from top shows the overtones, some pearls have pink overtone, some have a sort of greenish overtone.
Right. You can see that typical alternating red and green overtone pattern. This is either a typical post WWII cultured strand or an imitation made to look like one. I'd love to see a close up in indirect natural light.
This is an imitation pearl bracelet I used to own. The overtones are not exactly the same under a daylight spectrum lamp.
This is the only piece of imitation pearl jewelry I have seen that displayed different overtones. The colors are not as pronounced in as the OP's necklace however.

It will be interesting if they are imitation pearls. If they are, they must be a high quality imitation. I enlarged the 1st and 5th pictures the pearl's surface looks gritty. I thought imitation pearl's surface is very smooth? Or am I wrong?
Imitation pearls look rough (under 10x magnification-- a jeweler's loupe) but feel smooth (when rubbed together or against a tooth).

Real pearls look smooth (at 10x) but feel rough. Under the microscope nacre has wavy lines-- which is why it feels rough.

If in doubt, compare the pearls you are testing with a strand you know is real or one you know is imitation.

That's generally speaking.

I saw an imitation SS pearl ring at T.J. Maxx a few months ago that looked smoother than it should have (I had a loupe in my purse), leading me to wonder what it was coated with.

Older imitation pearl strands sometomes have accumulated a patina of grime that makes the pearls seem a bit resistant when they are rubbed together. Not gritty, but they stick a bit. Old pearl strands should be given a bath in mild, slightly soapy bottled water to remove grime before being tested for grittiness, IMO.

Genuine pearls may not feel gritty if they have been coated.
Genuine pearls that have been over polished may not feel gritty.
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Personally, I've never found the Grit test to be useful. I can't tell the difference between real or imitation pearls that way. I have much better luck just looking at them under a magnifier.
Overall it's a treasure to have something passed down. I would love to see the strand after it has a pearl bath and restrung :).
I see some engraving on the sides of the clasp... looks like a 4 k and e... if it is supposedly 14ke, that could mean it is 14k electroplate. The highly metallic shine and slightly orange color from your pearls makes me wonder if they might be imitation as well.

it is actually a stylized "S" which had me thinking possibly Sakata....although I cannot find any photos of their marks? I will get some daylight photos for y'all. the colors are really something to behold. Thought I should mention, from a view down the strand between pearls, it is apparent that the nacre is quite thick. This is why, despite the size, I thought south sea.
The older akoyas had thicker nacre from being left in the water longer before harvesting.
Again, a close up photo in indirect natural light would tell us more. Stand with your back to a window and let the light come around your body, preferably with the pearls on a table in front of you.. Make sure the clasp is not in the picture so the auto focus won't choose it over the pearls.