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Strangely beautiful old non-nacreous pearl.

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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177
Hello Pearlfriends!

I've got a curious new find...

What I think I have here is a non-nacreous pearl. What this pearl resembles most closely is a lump of dried candle wax, or a very small petrified ghost, but I'm pretty sure some of you knowledgeable peeps here will be able to tell me what this really is, any hints would be most appreciated.

At first I found it a little ugly, but the more I look at it, the more lovely it is. It is in a custom 15ct gold filigree mount (15ct was used in the UK 1854-1932) and the pearl itself measures 18mm by 11mm.

Has anyone seen anything like this before or could give me any pointers to its origin?





image.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpg
 
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pattye

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Dec 26, 2005
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11,287
Helen, that is an interesting whatever it is! When you look at it with the loupe, does it look faceted? And is the underside completely flat? Is it translucent when held to a strong light? The filigree is gorgeous! I have some whitish Oregon common opal that looks sort of like that~
 

Marianne

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Nov 1, 2008
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That must have been something very special to put in such a beautiful mounting. Quite a lovely puzzle!
 

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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Thank you Pattye and Marianne,

Hmmm...I hadn't thought that it could be something other than a pearl. Thank you for your thoughts.

The flat base and sides have been filed to shape I think. I've taken a pic of it sat atop my torch. image.jpg
 

CathyKeshi

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Mar 16, 2014
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Well, someone certainly loved it to put it in that beautiful setting ... and I have no idea what it is, but I strongly favor the "small petrified ghost" theory :)))
 

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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177
Thank you dmj, that's along the lines of what I'd guessed, with my v limited knowledge. I'm thinking from the manufacture, Indian subcontinent, as would have been under English rule at the time when 15ct gold was used. I bought it from a dealer here in the UK for ?35, so it's not broken the bank. Passed over it previously when he'd been wanted ?85 for it, but after kept wishing I'd bought it as it intriguied me.

Cathy, i shall always think of it as such!! It amuses me muchly.
 

JerseyPearl

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Apr 25, 2014
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5,855
What an interesting find, and beautiful setting. I am no expert, so please feel free to disregard my opinion, but I wonder if it isn't another stone entirely...maybe a piece of quartz or agate? Whatever it is, the piece itself is beautiful and quite nice for the price you paid!
 

Lagoon Island Pearls

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I see bisected lines in the candled view, which are not normally present in entire pearls.

Likewise no growth fronts or symmetry from consecutive layers.

I'm apprehensive to call this either a pearl, blister or cut shell.
 

dmj

pppp pearl
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Jan 17, 2011
Messages
446
some years back i bought a large amount weird clam pearls most from spondylus and tridacna species because i believe its not a good thing buying new ones ( i try to only buy antique pieces these days ) because they pretty much mess up the ocean taking everything alive out there.

IMG_0697.jpg

but i still have quite some examples looking like this, here is a picture of a biggg 100ct plus one to me it looks like this also have them full white and have hundreds as blisters in shells will also make a picture of some of them when i have to so you can compare
 
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hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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177
Hmmm...I'm stumped!
JerseyPearl, I take your view...all is definitely not as I first thought! its got a peculiar kind of bobbly textured surface which doesn't really show in the photos too well. I'm going to have to reassess!!
Dave, thank you for your thoughts. I'm obviously going to have to investigate further. Are there any tests I could do which would help, do you know?
 

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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Oh yes!! dmj, this looks familiar...thank you for taking the time to search it out. It's a big piece. Would it be classed as a pearl?

Mine has a slight translucency to it, and a kind of bubbly look to the formation.
 

dmj

pppp pearl
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Jan 17, 2011
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446
yes i had some certified a while ago for a costumer and they are pretty much the same certified as round non nacreous pearls however im always annoyed that all gia rapports for clam pearls i have seen almost always say - Moluks : tridacna gigas while we already know that pretty much any or tridacna or spondylus species etc can make pearls like this

also depending on who makes the rapport some call them pearls some cal them ''pearl'' haha and some call them non nacreous formation think if you would send a pearl to ssef gia igi you get three different things on your rapport
 

Lagoon Island Pearls

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Are there any tests I could do which would help, do you know?

Not without damaging the pearl for high level microscopy or reactivity testing with acids. Even then, positive results would not necessarily determine biotic aragonite because there are numerous other minerals containing calcite and manganese compounds such as marble, earth aragonite or fossilized limestone, hence only adding to the ambiguity and cost.

Likewise those tests would only be indicated when either eye or candled views suggest a reason to proceed, but in this case it's not advisable.

In Daniel's piece by eye, conchiolin is clearly visible, as are growth fronts and concentric layering.
 

Lagoon Island Pearls

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Incidentally, mineral compounds such as marble, coral etc. fall into the same broad category for hardness as pearls. Approx 2.5 to 4.5 mohs.
 

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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Dmj, Dave thank you so much for your observations. I think I might try and file an edge to see if it is powdery as pearls are when filed?

Going to bed thinking of molluscs and shells, and other minerals made of compressed shells got me dreaming....Have any of you read Patrick Suskinds book 'Maitre Mussards Bequest'? It is a wonderfully eccentric story set in the 18th century, where a jeweller 'discovers' that the world is made of shells and shell substances and that each day takes us closer to petrification as shells are taking over the earth. It is really worth a read :)
 

Lagoon Island Pearls

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Dmj, Dave thank you so much for your observations. I think I might try and file an edge to see if it is powdery as pearls are when filed?

I wouldn't advise that, but if you must then divide the sample into two parts. Treat one with a drop of vinegar, super heat the other. The vinegar will dissolve the CaCO3 but if any protein is present, it will form a gummy residue. Heat will burn the protein before the CaCO3 breaks down, creating a greyish smoke.

Going to bed thinking of molluscs and shells, and other minerals made of compressed shells got me dreaming....Have any of you read Patrick Suskinds book 'Maitre Mussards Bequest'? It is a wonderfully eccentric story set in the 18th century, where a jeweller 'discovers' that the world is made of shells and shell substances and that each day takes us closer to petrification as shells are taking over the earth. It is really worth a read :)

I have not, but it sounds like a great read. I've always been intrigued how the geology of the earth pushes ancient oceans toward the skies.
 

hbyrne

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Jun 18, 2013
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177
Well, today I showed said specimen to our jeweller (a man with 40 plus years of experience in the trade), and he said, nope, not a pearl but a piece of cave stalactite (calcite/ aragonite). They do look quite similar.....I'm slightly embarrassed, but it has added to the knowledge bank...thank you all for your patience and sharing your knowledge. image.jpg
 
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