South sea pearls?

Pearlie Sue

Jan 18, 2021
Okay, I solemnly swear to check myself into compulsive buyers rehab after this purchase, but I bought another pre-owned pearl necklace off Ebay. To me it looks beautiful, but almost immediately after the auction ended I started having second thoughts. Is it possible these might not be South Sea pearls? Can you tell the difference between SSP and nice bead nucleated freshwater pearls- if you aren't an expert, which I'm not? I haven't been worried about my last purchases because I was pretty confident they were vintage, but that clasp doesn't look particularly old to me, which has me worried. I'm including photos from the seller, and can give more information when they arrive to me. It wasn't priced unrealistically low (if it makes a difference I don't mind sharing the price, I just don't want to be tacky and blurt it out, ha ha), but it was quite a bit less than they would sell new. They're 12.4-13.4mm. There's a return policy so no great damage if they are FW.


I've done a little more research and now I'm even less sure. I'm not really seeing many, if any, SSP in those pinkish/lavender colors. That seems more like a FW pearl color. Maybe it's a mix?

ETA: Okay, I heard back from the seller. I was pretty sure it was a mistake, but now there's no doubt in my mind that it was an honest mistake. He explained how he'd come to believe they were SSP, and his explanation made perfect sense- it's probably the same conclusion I'd have come to if I didn't have this forum! He plans to get the pearls checked out by an expert so he can list them honestly- and refunded me, of course. Very impressed with his integrity!
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Hi Pearlie Sue, it's a lovely necklace you got.
I'm pretty sure they're bead nucleated freshwater pearls, the colors are obviously the typical colors of freshwater pearls from China. The first picture says it all.
You can find the corrugated clasp in many pearl necklaces sold on eBay and Etsy. You can also buy the clasp separately from Wen's Pearl on Etsy if you want.
Defo freshwater, but reasonably clean. You are right, no SS pearls are that pink (I have seen a couple which are a faint blush pink as the body colour but they are super unusual)
Thank you so much! Omg, I'm so glad that I'm learning about pearls from you guys because otherwise I would have just seriously overpayed for bead nucleated FW pearls! I'm pretty sure the seller just didn't know either, though. I didn't see any other pearls in his shop and he probably acquired them somehow and just went off the info he found online. Now, if I'm going to invest in Edison pearls it's going to be that strand of golden pearls I've had my eye on your website!
Thank you so, so much! Man, if I wasn't part of this forum I would have paid at least three times what this necklace was worth and never knew, I'm afraid- until I went toget the appraised, anyway! I know buying on Ebay is risky, but second hand pearls have such low resell values it's so tempting... Anyway, I contacted the seller. I don't think he deliberately misrepresented them, I just don't think he knew either. They might very seek have been sold to him as South Sea pearls as well.
If you check the rest of his/her listings it should give you an idea if they are deliberately selling misinterpreted. If it's the only pearl necklace, it could be. If they have plenty of pearls, I would say they are lying.

- Karin
Yeah, I really think he just didn't know because there's not much jewelry in his shop. I mean, a couple months ago when I knew nothing about pearls if that necklace had landed in my lap I would have just looked up large pearls, saw SSP and thought I'd hit the jackpot! I contacted the seller, we'll see how he responds. I gave him the option of sending it with the knowledge I'd be returning it, or just canceling the purchase. I'll be curious to see if he changes his listing to FW pearls, though!
A few years back in a high end jewelry shop in Greenwich, CT I was shown a strand of pearls that were clearly bead nuked FWP-- similar colors to the strand you posted. The salesman described them as SSP. I told him that they were actually bead nucleated FWP, and when he checked the tag he was truly surprised to find I was correct. :rolleyes:
There is a vague nagging in the back of my mind about if the pearls are just a little too shiny and perfect and could be fake.
Defo freshwater, but reasonably clean. You are right, no SS pearls are that pink (I have seen a couple which are a faint blush pink as the body colour but they are super unusual)

I've seen one peach colored golden south sea pearl in a shop in Antwerp. If it weren't sold by a reputable pearl vendor I'd mistake it as a nuked fwp, really.
Ha ha! Maybe I'll be such a pearl expert I can pull that one one day. Must have been kinda satisfying, right?
Yeah, I'm pretty confident they're FW pearls at this point. The folks on this thread know their stuff. They're still beautiful and valuable I'm sure, but my eyes are on SSP!
Ooo, I bet it was pretty! I wonder if it was dyed?

Definitely not dyed because dyed pearls have different looks. This particular one is placed with natural-colored golden south sea pearls.
There are naturally occurring exotic-colored south sea pearls but they're rare.
Thank you! I think so too, and I'm sure one of them will come home with me eventually. And hey, if the seller prices them right I might buy them again, as freshwaters.
Btw, I got my pearl stringing kit I ordered from you this last week and everything is lovely and arrived in good condition, and I loved the sweet note. Thank you!