Someone PLEASE help ID Pearls

LostPearl

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Feb 28, 2024
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Large pearl lot bought at auction years ago…. Thousands of dollars to appraise…. I believe they’re Akoya, Is it worth spending $3k+ to get them appraised? I’ve been trying for years (since 2019) to determine if what I have is of any substantial value or if appraising them will basically be what they’re worth. Thanks in advance!
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I see biwa freshwater hanks, short strands that could be left over from shortening a standard length or combining strands for a longer length (same with loose bags) and a lot of akoya half drills. Most of the half drills appear to be 3/4 pearls - pearls with blemishes shaved to be set as earrings.

The lot is old, which is why you see Biwas and 3/4 pearls. Neither are used much in jewelry these days.

It looks like a pearl dealer's odds and ends from maybe 30 years ago. Some of it may be salvageable and usable, but they really aren't that valuable. If you were to turn them into jewelry they could potentially be sold, but not as they are.

We have drawers of loose pearls and partial hanks in our vault. We use a few of them now and then when we need to lengthen a strand, but for the most part we collect them until we have a few kilos in each size and send them back to Japan to be matched into new hanks.
 
Wow, they’re that old? So even the Akoya’s aren’t valuable? Some earrings say $935/$975 a pair. Some full strand necklaces say $7500, etc…. I would think If that were the price 30 years ago, the value would be higher now, unless the pearls are damaged. I’m going to post some additional pics this evening. The half drilled and full drilled apppear to be very similar in color, shape, texture, etc… so the full drilled would likely be Akoya as well, correct?
 
I see biwa freshwater hanks, short strands that could be left over from shortening a standard length or combining strands for a longer length (same with loose bags) and a lot of akoya half drills. Most of the half drills appear to be 3/4 pearls - pearls with blemishes shaved to be set as earrings.

The lot is old, which is why you see Biwas and 3/4 pearls. Neither are used much in jewelry these days.

It looks like a pearl dealer's odds and ends from maybe 30 years ago. Some of it may be salvageable and usable, but they really aren't that valuable. If you were to turn them into jewelry they could potentially be sold, but not as they are.

We have drawers of loose pearls and partial hanks in our vault. We use a few of them now and then when we need to lengthen a strand, but for the most part we collect them until we have a few kilos in each size and send them back to Japan to be matched into new hanks.
 
I see what you mean about old pearls not being valuable (advances in technology since then, etc). Well, not exactly the answer I was hoping for, I’m glad at least I know…. Thank you for that. I suppose they’re not worth spending the money to have them appraised. Still…. Feels like such a waste to just have them sit here collecting dust. I did post them for sale out of curiousity a while back listed at $4k, then increased to $5k, and have had many many people inquire about purchasing. I decided not to sell them since I wasn’t sure of true value, maybe I’ll post them for $10k and see if anyone’s interested at that amount. Thank you for your help!
 
Most of the loose akoya pearls appear to have been stored in plastic zip lock bags. If they've been in a small airtight container for that long, the nacre will be brittle. The attached snippet shows pearls that really aren't usable. The nacre is dried up and mostly gone.

old akoya.png

It's not really possible to mix vintage pearls with new pearls, so if anyone were to use them, they would be creating pieces from what is remaining. And because it's a mix of loose pearls, there are few options.

I wish I had better news for you. Honestly, as a pearl dealer, I wouldn't have any use for them even if they were free. If someone offers you $4000, you should take the money and run.
 
Because of some of the markings on the pearl cards, particularly the momme weight, I was almost wondering if the prices you are looking at were in Japanese Yen. The yen was quite strong against the dollar back in the 80’s and especially in the 70’s- more than double today’s exchange. It seems that would be a more realistic price given the era and the pearls.
 
Most of the loose akoya pearls appear to have been stored in plastic zip lock bags. If they've been in a small airtight container for that long, the nacre will be brittle. The attached snippet shows pearls that really aren't usable. The nacre is dried up and mostly gone.

View attachment 468297

It's not really possible to mix vintage pearls with new pearls, so if anyone were to use them, they would be creating pieces from what is remaining. And because it's a mix of loose pearls, there are few options.

I wish I had better news for you. Honestly, as a pearl dealer, I wouldn't have any use for them even if they were free. If someone offers you $4000, you should take the money and run.
They have not been stored in air-tight bags. I did do some research on pearls…. Most were loose in the caboodles, others in plastic bags (unzipped) with several holes poked in them.
 
And some in the black box (with open top drawers). The caboodles was open on my closet (I made sure they weren’t in air-tight) containers. There are probably 50k pearls or more, so plenty to make jewelry from the lot alone. I wanna say the weight was 6-8 lbs when I bought them. They’re worth more to me personally than $4k, so I definitely won’t do that.
 
One necklace has a price tag of $7500 and it’s gorgeous, Stylish, not out-dated….. I would wear it myself. Just needs a clasp. There are multiple already strung, these are ready to go to make jewelry…. Earrings say $975/pair and I have countless sets of them, And they’re not damaged…. They’re quite stunning. May be old, but purchased by me in 2019, and the guy had only recently passed away. He was clearly still using them to make jewelry and sell…. So clearly others don’t all feel the same way you do.
 
If you are inclined to string some of the pearls in order to try to sell them as finished jewelry, may I suggest you have a look at my stringing tutorial?
It is not costly to knot up the pearls (other than time).
Link: https://www.pearl-guide.com/threads...ing-on-serafil-beaders-secret-power-pro.6604/

Before stringing any of the pearls, though, may I also suggest that you do a search on eBay to see what strands like them have sold for recently (i.e. look at sold listings). Fashion trends change, and some kinds/sizes/shapes of pearls that used to be considered more desirable may not achieve a good price nowadays. However, crafters may want some of the loose pearls for their projects, and may prefer them loose/unstrung.

Also, please consider the Sunk Cost Fallacy. If you are not familiar with this concept, here is an article about Sunk Cost Fallacy, Commitment Bias, and Loss Aversion. It may apply in some degree to your situation. That is for you to judge, of course.
 
One necklace has a price tag of $7500 and it’s gorgeous, Stylish, not out-dated….. I would wear it myself. Just needs a clasp. There are multiple already strung, these are ready to go to make jewelry…. Earrings say $975/pair and I have countless sets of them, And they’re not damaged…. They’re quite stunning. May be old, but purchased by me in 2019, and the guy had only recently passed away. He was clearly still using them to make jewelry and sell…. So clearly others don’t all feel the same way you do.

Can you share a photo of the piece with a $7500 price tag? I saw your other thread too and don't see anything with that number on it.

I do see some numbers on the tags, but they don't correlate to the pearls. The snippet below, for example, shows 7150 for small, side-drilled Biwa sticks. These are worth maybe $20 to $50 per strand wholesale in the states.

Biwa Stick Pearls.png


I agree that the lot would make the most sense for crafting and beading. If the pearls were finished into jewelry, they could be sold individually.

Based on the age of the tags, the 3/4 pearls, the Biwas (which haven't been grown commercially for a very long time), and the company names, these aren't recently marketed pearls. They're not the sort of pearls an active dealer would have today either, unless they discovered a box of odds and ends in their vault from a few decades prior. That does happen. Sarah (Kojima) had several hanks of old Biwa pearls in Tucson last month. She said they found them in an old safe that hadn't been opened in decades.

I wish I had better news for you, but I am giving you a qualified and honest assessment of what you have.
 
Can you share a photo of the piece with a $7500 price tag? I saw your other thread too and don't see anything with that number on it.

I do see some numbers on the tags, but they don't correlate to the pearls. The snippet below, for example, shows 7150 for small, side-drilled Biwa sticks. These are worth maybe $20 to $50 per strand wholesale in the states.

View attachment 468298

I agree that the lot would make the most sense for crafting and beading. If the pearls were finished into jewelry, they could be sold individually.

Based on the age of the tags, the 3/4 pearls, the Biwas (which haven't been grown commercially for a very long time), and the company names, these aren't recently marketed pearls. They're not the sort of pearls an active dealer would have today either, unless they discovered a box of odds and ends in their vault from a few decades prior. That does happen. Sarah (Kojima) had several hanks of old Biwa pearls in Tucson last month. She said they found them in an old safe that hadn't been opened in decades.

I wish I had better news for you, but I am giving you a qualified and honest assessment of what you have.
I appreciate that… and I’m certainly no professional. Maybe it was $7135, not $7500. I wish I had the time to string them… I did check the value for biwa pearls and I think it depends on the quality. Some go for next to nothing, others $5k+. Here’s a few more of some of the potential earrings…. I’m feeling a little discouraged to post the rest of the remaining pearls now, lol.
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I don’t think so, everything else they wrote appeared to be in English. The shop was in New York.
Because of some of the markings on the pearl cards, particularly the momme weight, I was almost wondering if the prices you are looking at were in Japanese Yen. The yen was quite strong against the dollar back in the 80’s and especially in the 70’s- more than double today’s exchange. It seems that would be a more realistic price given the era and the pearls.
 

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If you are inclined to string some of the pearls in order to try to sell them as finished jewelry, may I suggest you have a look at my stringing tutorial?
It is not costly to knot up the pearls (other than time).
Link: https://www.pearl-guide.com/threads...ing-on-serafil-beaders-secret-power-pro.6604/

Before stringing any of the pearls, though, may I also suggest that you do a search on eBay to see what strands like them have sold for recently (i.e. look at sold listings). Fashion trends change, and some kinds/sizes/shapes of pearls that used to be considered more desirable may not achieve a good price nowadays. However, crafters may want some of the loose pearls for their projects, and may prefer them loose/unstrung.

Also, please consider the Sunk Cost Fallacy. If you are not familiar with this concept, here is an article about Sunk Cost Fallacy, Commitment Bias, and Loss Aversion. It may apply in some degree to your situation. That is for you to judge, of course.
 
Thanks. I didn’t go spending an outrageous amount on the pearls or anything, and they were purchased 5 years ago, so likely doesn’t apply to me. I have looked, some biwa pearls go for $500-$1k or even more. Some are like $20.
 
These are the results I see for sold Biwa necklaces (highest to lowest price); I don't see any that sold for even as much as $400.


You have to look at SOLD items. Asking price is not the relevant number here. The sold price shows what people have demonstrated they are willing to pay. At the end of the day, things are only worth what someone will pay for them.

Look, I'll just say it. You have spent years wondering about these pearls and how much you can get for them. Jeremy is an expert in this field. I would give a lot of weight to his opinion.

Since you have not invested a lot of money in these pearls, and you don't want to string or set them, I would target crafters as your potential buyers. I'd make a few lots of similar items, list them at auction at the lowest price you are willing to take for each lot (in case you only get one bid), and see what they are bid up to. The market will determine what they are worth, today. And you can get some money for them, and finally stop wondering.
 
When those pearls were new to the market they were one value. Now growing techniques have moved on apace and quality is much higher. I can see from one of your close up photos that the pearls are not super-well matched (two pairs on a card).
The market has evolved. Those pearls are mostly left behind.
 
Thanks. I didn’t go spending an outrageous amount on the pearls or anything, and they were purchased 5 years ago, so likely doesn’t apply to me. I have looked, some biwa pearls go for $500-$1k or even more. Some are like $20.
A thought: sunk costs are not just monetary. Sunk costs include all the time and effort you have spent:
• listing these pearls
• thinking about how to price them
• thinking about how and whether to get them appraised
• photographing them
• having conversations with people who were interested in them
• even posting about them and replying to us. :)

It can feel like all this time and effort was wasted, if you don't make a profit selling them.
But upthread you said, "Feels like such a waste to just have them sit here collecting dust."

So...maybe it's time to stop letting them collect dust?
They may not make you a lot of money, but hopefully you can recoup something.
 
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