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Vintage yellow cultured pearls

hbyrne

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
177
Hello there!

I have a new find...some pretty graduated cultureds. They go from 6-9mm and are markedly yellow in tone. I'm thinking they're 1950's maybe, and wondering, as I've seen others similarly coloured and this age, was this a popular colour for pearls at the time, or an indication of the types of oyster which were being farmed? Are they possibly South Sea (I'm thinking the size would indicate that) ? I'd just like to learn a little about them to add to the knowledge bank...

Thank you for reading, Pearlfriends!

redblkpearlrare1
redblkpearlrare2
 

Pearl Dreams

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Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
8,949
Akoyas do come in natural pale yellow shades just as they come in naturally silvery blue shades, but I thought the yellow wasn't so popular and that this is one of the reason they were bleached.

I wonder if this strand was left its natural color-- as opposed to being a bleached strand that yellowed with age?
 

BWeaves

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May 13, 2015
Messages
6,428
If pearls are kept in a box and not worn, they tend to turn yellow. Since these are vintage, maybe 1950's pearls, it's possible that the yellow is just age related.

Moral of the story: Wear your pearls.
 

Pearl Dreams

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Sep 24, 2007
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8,949
But does yellowing actually result just from their sitting in a box?
I thought yellowing came from contact with cosmetics, skin oils, pollution etc. (In which case the moral is to wipe your pearls clean after wearing them.)
 

hbyrne

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
177
Thank you for your comments and appreciation :)

I don't think the colour is age related as there's no dry or brittleness apparent on the surface, BWeaves. But I take the point, PearlDreams, that the yellow shades aren't so popular. I guess they don't suit everyone. I'm pleased with them as they're a nice size, length and graduation. We need bigger pearls as we get older, right?!

I suppose it would be a natural colour? There is some variation throughout the strand.
 

BWeaves

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May 13, 2015
Messages
6,428
Yellowing can come from a variety of different places.

1. It could be natural.
2. It could be caused by perspiration or body lotion or hairspray that has not been wiped off over the years.
3. It could occur from sitting in a box unused. This could be related to #2, but sometimes the lining of the box may cause the yellowing.

I just wanted to throw out the "sitting in the box" option as no one else had mentioned it. I've inherited some of my grandmother's pearls and they are yellower than the color photos we have of her wearing them years ago, and they were not dirty when I got them. The pearls in my strand seemed a different color than the pearls mounted on the gold clasp, which is why I wondered if contact with the lining of the box may have caused some discoloration. In my old photos, the pearls in the strand match the pearls on the clasp.

I'm not saying that's what's going on with your pearls. Just mentioning another possibility.
 

ckrickett

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Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
875
I have a strand of akoyas (I had Hisano revamp them last year) they were my grandmas akoyas and they were yellowish golden. light if you looked at one pearl on its own, but strung on a strand you could really see the light yellow (almost champagne-ish) they were/are very pretty. I had them cleaned and they were still that color.
 

hbyrne

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
177
Hmm...It's interesting. I agree that there are factors that can discolour pearls over time, but I wouldn't say it commonly happens. Are both of your strands evenly coloured/discoloured, BWeaves and ckrickett? I've handled many strands of vintage cultureds and the yellowy shades aren't something I've seen often.

Does anyone know when it became common practice to bleach pearls?
 

BWeaves

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Joined
May 13, 2015
Messages
6,428
Another thing I just thought about is that I recently removed the original strand from my grandmother's clasp, and had PP match a new Freshadama strand to the clasp. The old pearls were plumb worn out, and the shell bead was showing through on some of them. I wonder if that could be part of the cause of the color change on my particular strand?

This probably doesn't relate to that gorgeous strand in the photo up there, but I just thought of it.
 
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