Tiny Bead Nucleated Freshwater Pearls


Well-known member
Jan 13, 2019
I saw these on Etsy (Wen Pearls) and thought it was interesting how small these bead nucleated FW pearls are. I have only been interested in pearls for a little over a year so maybe this is not that unusual? These are 4 to 4.5mm. I am not in the market to buy them, but they do look pretty. I was wondering how thick the nacre is over the bead.

They look lovely but how can anyone be in the business with such misleading and incorrect descriptions! This one is for the pearls in question:


NOTE: these pearls are freshwater akoya pearl,have Nuclear.

OMG! Sad...... Like no thought was given to the entry. "Nuclear" :mad:
Some years ago John Tu was selling dyed peacock fw with a bead nucleus, probably 6 mm or so. I noticed this listing also and was curious, so I ordered a couple of strands. I'll be interested to see how thick the nacre is and report back. Curious about the intense colors. I don't own any of the true Edisons.

Wen is using "akoya" to mean bead nucleated, and of course, nuclear means nucleus. It's just my opinion; I'm quite certain she doesn't purposely mislead anyone, unlike so many other sellers. I have no foreign language skills at all, so I feel overall she does pretty well. A number of our forum members are satisfied buyers. I've only ordered a few items and found her measurements accurate with decent quality for the price.

Just today received new cups and bits for my drill (from Wen), I can only hope they are indestructible; I'm determined to learn to drill my own pearls! I've got a bucket of "cull" pearls to practice on. My last go at drilling was a disaster, so wish me luck!
I can't wait to see the pictures of the strands when you receive them Pattye. I am really taken by the colors of the strands-they appear gorgeous. I haven't seen FW bead nucleated pearls so small before and wondered if it was that uncommon. I think it is good that forum members noted her listing error so that those new to pearls can understand the difference. I also believe that the listing error was not done intentionally to be dishonest.

I am so excited that you are going to learn to drill pearls. That sounds like a fun skill to learn. :)
Pattye, I have been tempted to try pearl drilling myself but it requires a lot of equipment that has to be ordered from outside of sweden. So no drilling yet. About real edison colors, Wendy used real edisons along with tahitians and golden south sea pearls in my rainbow strand. The colors really are amazingly intense. I hadn't seen real edisons before that either. Nothing like the regular not nucleated freshwater pearls that I bought years ago, they are mostly pale peach, pink or pale lavender. Such a colordifference. Once I bought a mixed freshwater strand with pondslime colors that I haven't ever showed anyone. Pondslime colors can be pretty, but not the ones I bought. I didn't even string them and gave most of them away. There has been such change in pearls over the last decade, I wonder what comes next.
Those colors are something, aren't they? Please report back on your opinion on the pearls, Pattye. And good luck drilling!

I've purchased from Wen a few years back and she's been really good about responding to inquiries, getting more photos, and being honest about condition. I learned to ask after getting something that was not the quality I expected. She told me to ask for more shots and she'll let me know more info about specific pearls or lead me to pearls that fit what I want. And she'll tell you if something is natural or dyed (her blue akoyas were dyed a while back).
The small pearls won't arrive for another week or two.

In the meantime, my awesome friend, Wendy @ Pearlescence, offered to coach me through the steps of setting up and drilling a pearl, all via one of those phone apps! She explained how to insert the bit and check to make sure it is straight plus lots of other tips. I also noticed one of the cups didn't fit well, causing the pearl to not be centered, so changed that out. So with many thanks to Wendy, I have the gist of it! I mostly will use the drill to enlarge holes for stringing on leather. I'm happy to let others do the majority of the drilling!
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Oh no, Pattye, does that mean bringing out The Hammer????? I can’t watch.

and I don’t see the standard drill hole size of .8. I see .7 and .9, is this the new standard? I feel like a total pearl newbie.

Could she be meaning tissue-nucleated? Or is ‘Nuclear’ assumed to mean Bead Nucleated, nowadays? Sorry, I just re-read your post Pattye, so akoya is like shorthand for bead-nucleated now? Not saltwater?

I remember a time when folks were discriminating “bead-nucleated” vs “tissue-nucleated”; like cultured freshwater used to be shorthand for Chinese tissue-nucleated cultured freshwater, (CFW), that was before Edisons though. Things do change over a decade, and I’m not up to speed.

The necklace (in my post here) is of exotic pearls from PearlParadise (CFW), tissue nucleated. (I think 2007)
The two loose strands below the necklace are CFW, tissue-nucleated, from Pattye (and John Tu), back in the day.

So going by the color shades, I’d guess the Wen strands are CFW, but adding in the strong color and roundness I’d guess bead-nucleated? but add in the small size and I’m scratching my head, you know?

Is it a Trend??? How exciting! The Industry progresses, and skill progresses, but imagine handling such small bead nuclei! Do you think this is in anticipation of a big market surge for graduated strands? Oooooh, or more hundred-inch-ropes of small pearls? Or just keeping their skill-set (seeding with very small beads)?
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This is a very interesting topic thread! Sarah from Kojima posted on Instagram about the deepest, darkest shades of cultured freshwater pearls now being seen in larger numbers. I don't have a link for her post, but if you look her up on Instagram, you'll see it. Definitely worth a read.
eta Jersey Pearl, thank you! That sounds good! plus how was your first trunk show, but maybe that’s another thread?
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Well, Lisa, Tissue nucleated strands like yours are becoming more and more rare! They seem to have aged well and maintained their luster!

I haven't had the hammer out for awhile, so it could be time!! Though there may be another way to check nacre thickness. hehe

Hmm, standard drill hole size? Not sure there ever has been one? Someone who buys as Jeremy does and can specify what size, still even the size of the bit can be slightly off. Drilling one's own pearls would be the solution to having the preferred hole size, I guess. For some reason I work with a range of sizes but don't always know exactly what size they are.

As far as I know Wen is the only one using "freshwater akoya." I don't know the technology around bead nucleation in fw mussels. Last year tiny Tahitians were a big hit, so perhaps the farmers are hoping for the same with these fw?

I agree with Jersey Pearl, Sarah is ground zero with her information. John Tu pretty much stopped carrying fw, and mostly has Akoya, SS and Tahitians. He is planning to retire; I'm not happy about that! (Good thing I have a stash of pearls, right?)

This is an excellent discussion; I hope others will chime in!
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I know! Aren’t they gorgeous? Oh Pattye, at the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned commercial, these pearls really have held up!

At first I thought Gee, Mom couldn’t have worn them much...but the loops on the clasp show the wear, that the pearls don’t. Anyway, she was a woman of her generation, sort of rambunctious but careful with jewels, books and babies.

I’ve been more rough, even wearing them on my wrist - and still not a ding, scratch or scrape (thank God!). In fact, the power-pro broke last week when I lifted the necklace out of a bag, can you believe it???? I’ve never heard of power-pro breaking. Restringing, I’m going to include one of the pearls I had to take out for her, she was very little. I was lucky I didn’t lose this pearl when they broke.

(I guess I could change the clasp, but Mom liked this magnetic one. She didn’t like gimp; just one of our things.)


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lisa c, that’s a gorgeous strand. It was fortunate that you didn't loose any of those pearls when the necklace broke.
Thanks Charlotta, too true, without any extra pearls it’s just under 16.5” (42cm). Once I find the ‘remainder’ pearls, I’ll know what to do. Maybe. I don’t have the creativity you guys have...
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I agree with Jersey Pearl, Sarah is ground zero with her information. John Tu pretty much stopped carrying fw, and mostly has Akoya, SS and Tahitians. He is planning to retire; I'm not happy about that! (Good thing I have a stash of pearls, right?)

This is an excellent discussion; I hope others will chime in!

Oh, so sorry to hear John Tu is not carrying FW anymore, he has always had a nice selection. I will miss him when he retires -- coming down March 20th to see him and hopefully you, Pattye!

With all the advances in Edison pearls, it's I suppose not a surprise if they are carrying the techniques down into the smaller sizes.

I thought Sarah's comments on Instagram were really interesting too. Excited to see your Wen pearls when they arrive and hear what you think of them!
Hi Jill, it is pretty (except for the clasp, which is only plated and worn, so doesn’t photograph well at all). Mom’s strand wasn’t in the original post, and I added it because the pearls were from the same era as the little pearls from Pattye/JohnTu, and actually got worn!

The big and small tissue-only nucleated pearls are really hardy. I’m tempted to buy some of the little pearl-plated-beads (pearls) to bang around on my wrist with the older cfw pearls, to see if they’re equally robust. (They’re awfully round and pretty, and any excuse will do).

I Sort of hijacked the thread, but didn’t intend to. I’m so jealous that you get to hang with the Portland Kids! Have fun!
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Pretty pearls lisa C. :)

If tissue nucleated FW pearls become more rare I wonder if the soft pastel colors they possess will become passe. Or perhaps they will become collector items as time passes. It will be interesting to see. Right now I only like the very high quality Edisons with very smooth nacre or the ripple pearls. I don't like the "in between" type Edison pearls that are round with slightly wavy nacre and particularly dislike those with deep pin prick inclusions. Even if that type of inclusion is tiny it draws my eye like a beacon. I suppose it is because there is no underlying nacre to reflect light back.
G&PLover, you’re cracking me up! Like, how intense is that beacon? :cool: Can you see dimples on other people’s pearls from a yard away, and do you flinch? Or the beacon only stops you from buying them for yourself?

I find really deep Michelin-man grooves disturbing that way, and the very coarse grainy stuff of some pearl surfaces (but that’s because I had a very rough time with chicken pox, and so did my kids. I was a VeryNotZen mother when my kids suffered with chicken pox, and nose bleeds. I was like “oh my God! Another blister????, no, no, no, no, no....”, and “OK, your nose has been bleeding for over an hour, I think I’m going to have a heart attack now”.).

Good thing there’s always somebody to be liking these pearls, it takes away the guilt/rejection factor. I can tell a part of you feels guilty for not loving these poor dimpled pearls, right? Maybe only by 1%, but it’s there. Your posts reveal a soft side!
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