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Akoya comparisons: Hanadama, Ten-nyo, and uncerted Gem quality

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Starting a new thread so it’s searchable in future.


In all photos:
  • Strand #1 is my Hanadama, 8.5-9mm, keeping vendor unstated as PSL report renders this detail irrelevant
  • Strand #2 is my Ten-nyo, 8.5-9mm, keeping vendor unstated as PSL report renders this detail irrelevant
  • Strand #3 is my newest strand from @molinePDG, 8-8.5mm (no certificate yet)
No editing besides cropping and reducing resolution a little (originals were too big to email). This isn't intended to be a "Show me the..." thread and these aren’t meant to be glamour pics - just for comparison and discussion :))


General thoughts:

The Hanadama was purchased in-person several years ago. I chose the most lustrous strand. This was not the strand with strongest overtone. It was also not the strand with thickest nacre.

The Ten-nyo I bought blind, but the certificate displays very strong Aurora (corresponds to real-world iridescence/overtone).

The strand I just bought from @molinePDG is uncerted - I’ll send it to PSL when the COVID-19 situation calms.

My takeaway here is the same ol’ same ol’: I got what I paid for. As a US-based consumer with no trade connections, the Ten-nyo was 1.5x the cost of the Hanadama. Strand #3, with smaller pearls, was 2x the cost of the Ten-nyo - this strand was apparently more wholesale than my retail Ten-nyo price. And it is astonishing IRL.


Hanadama:

1587597873659.png


Ten-nyo:

1587597852901.png


Lustre:

Strands #1 and #2 are really nice pearls. The Hanadama was the sharpest of seven. And I’ve bought other Hanadama strands of different sizes from various vendors for family - Strand #1 has always been most lustrous. In some lighting I give the Ten-nyo the edge over the Hanadama, but in other lighting it’s a toss-up.

Strand #3 turns them both milquetoast. Across all lighting environments. The photos are true to life - it’s just not a fair comparison. I actually had the gem Strand #3 strung into two separate bracelets - and I was shocked (and delighted!) when I opened the boxes.

Skin:

The skin on the Ten-nyo strand is pristine. The Hanadama is a close second.

The gem Strand #3 has unevenness that is noticeable on close inspection (caused by areas of very thick nacre that are non-uniformly distributed), and exactly ten pearls have other small dents and marks - yes, I counted! When buying, Andrew told me that his supplier had found two strands: One was very clean but had slightly less lustre than the other, the other had a few blemished pearls but metallic surfaces. I prioritized lustre. The blemishing and unevenness of skin is visible in photos, but is unnoticeable in-person without close inspection just as Andrew said it would be - the lustre drowns everything else out. I would have loved both exceptionally clean skin and exceptional lustre, but if I have to choose I’m happy with my choice.

Overtone:

The real-world overtone on the Hanadama is... Present but unobtrusive: The pearls definitely aren’t flat, but I look at them and see “white”. I've seen both less-irridescent and more-irridescent Hanadamas. The overtone on the Ten-nyo is much stronger - the stronger pink is the Japanese preference, and it's also my preference. This is commensurate with expectations for the Ten-nyo classification.

... And like lustre like overtone - again, the gem strand makes it an unfair comparison. The two iPhone photos at the end - this is what my eyes actually see. This is the real-world difference my eyes see. #Absolution.


From the camera:

6DAFD539-3A61-48A4-8C8A-2B953880E795.png

- - - - - - - - - -

41C90455-AA1D-43AC-A6FB-133D4719CDCC.png

- - - - - - - - - -

575A62D9-84D1-4D99-ADC6-6C63A0CF81E0.png

- - - - - - - - - -

CD0C7252-FAB4-4672-9510-DC21B68B4973.png

- - - - - - - - - -

9CB5AEDB-68AE-4337-8D3A-F615BAD745E0.png

- - - - - - - - - -

E6CA549B-1158-4A0B-85F9-61F9326CF88C.png



Turns out the iPhone did a much better job in the bathroom than I did with the camera:

8D937E27-D505-4067-8DF1-61B2E8D3706B.jpeg

- - - - - - - - - -

332AE2D8-86ED-4B68-8B29-FF993D4C0FED.jpeg
 
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Polabowla

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I had no idea there were so many types of pearls. I thought just freshwater, cultured & natural.
 

jeweln

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Yssie
Love #3 , Has true mirror luster . Thanks for the comprehensive comparison . Does it have pink/silver overtones ? Do you see any blue/green ? Are you leaving it as a bracelet or will you restring into a necklace ?
 

AV_

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What a pleasure!
 

molinePDG

Rough_Rock
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Indeed, Yssie's thread shows here that while certifications can be useful and are important, they are not the be all end all of pearls -- just like with diamonds.

This is much the same as GIA triple excellent. I'm not a diamonds expert as many here are, but it's well known that even the top grades have a range - and that's what we see displayed here.


I had no idea there were so many types of pearls. I thought just freshwater, cultured & natural.

Indeed, there are many types of pearls and the terminology used often confuses people. What most people consider "natural pearls" are in fact cultured akoya pearls.

Natural pearl refers to a pearl that formed without any human intervention -- there are very few of these pearls left in modern days, and nice ones are incredibly expensive.

The vast majority of all pearls today are cultured -- there are many types of cultured pearls, the freshwater types, and the saltwater types like Akoya pearls (the type of pearls that Yssie has displayed in this thread). There are also white and gold south sea pearls, Tahitian pearls (sometimes known as black south sea), and conch pearls. Freshwater pearls are what used to be known as the small, thin pearls that looked a lot like Rice Krispies. Today, Freshwater pearls have become very high qualities and are much rounder and more lustrous than in the past.

Hopefully that helps!

@yssie - you have taken some excellent quality photos here!
 

Polabowla

Brilliant_Rock
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Nov 15, 2019
Messages
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Yes if course I forgot south sea/black tahitian.
When I was a kid the freshwater were like the rice krispies (great description)! And so called natural ones that I saw were misshapen & odd colors.
But I thought otherwise, all the cultured pearls were the same (maybe a bit more or less white). It's amazing to see how different these 3 strands are.
 

lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
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1,255
I know nothing about pearls but I tend to always read your posts as they’re so considered and informative. All three look beautiful but strand 3 blows the socks off the competition, even to my uneducated eyes! The difference, especially in your first iPhone picture, is really marked. They’re beautiful, I’m really pleased that you found what you were after, and I’m also really pleased that you found them via a PS connection after all the education you provide to others via the site. Congrats!
 
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katbran

Brilliant_Rock
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Mar 4, 2011
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770
There's no doubt that #3 is the hands down lustre winner ! What I find interesting is the Hanadama strand - the lustre seems just a bit underwhelming. I'm sure they are very pretty in RL but overall what they show to me is the wide range of grading within Hanadama, the certificate really doesn't guarantee top quality. At the Hong Kong show you can pass booth after booth with Hanadama certificates on display and the range of quality is apparent..and they are priced accordingly. But all have the same certification.
 

AV_

Ideal_Rock
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Off the cuff,

There is this 'mirror' test for pearl lustre - www (inexact so far, but fun); a small, purple pearl among these www looks improssibly bright. I am silly in love with the pin!
 
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Pearlescence

Shiny_Rock
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Oct 3, 2013
Messages
499
Indeed, Yssie's thread shows here that while certifications can be useful and are important, they are not the be all end all of pearls -- just like with diamonds.

This is much the same as GIA triple excellent. I'm not a diamonds expert as many here are, but it's well known that even the top grades have a range - and that's what we see displayed here.




Indeed, there are many types of pearls and the terminology used often confuses people. What most people consider "natural pearls" are in fact cultured akoya pearls.

Natural pearl refers to a pearl that formed without any human intervention -- there are very few of these pearls left in modern days, and nice ones are incredibly expensive.

The vast majority of all pearls today are cultured -- there are many types of cultured pearls, the freshwater types, and the saltwater types like Akoya pearls (the type of pearls that Yssie has displayed in this thread). There are also white and gold south sea pearls, Tahitian pearls (sometimes known as black south sea), and conch pearls. Freshwater pearls are what used to be known as the small, thin pearls that looked a lot like Rice Krispies. Today, Freshwater pearls have become very high qualities and are much rounder and more lustrous than in the past.

Hopefully that helps!

@yssie - you have taken some excellent quality photos here!
I just saw someone on TV selling channel describe Edisons as sea water pearls. I had to share to diminish my pain.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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I just saw someone on TV selling channel describe Edisons as sea water pearls. I had to share to diminish my pain.

As opposed to those river water gargoyles...
 

MMtwo

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I missed this thread when you wrote it. What a wonderful write up. Strand number three makes me gasp. They are otherworldly.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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An update to this thread - Strand #3, the gem strand, was split into two bracelets. I had one of those bracelets sent to GIA and requested the nacre thickness evaluation add-on. One day I’ll send this bracelet to PSL as well for comparison.

D7B792BE-29EA-4130-835A-45ADFD0ED4C5.jpeg

GIA’s nacre thickness evaluation process:
1. X-ray the strand.
2. Choose, by visual from x-ray, a few pearls that are “representative of the strand”. Neither pearls with thickest nor thinnest nacre, neither most nor least smooth/unblemished. 5-7 pearls for an 18” necklace, 2-3 for a bracelet.
3. For each of those few pearls, measure nacre thickness (from exterior of nucleus to exterior of pearl) in four directions.
4. For each pearl, average the four nacre thickness measurements to one number.
5. Average all sample pearls’ (averaged, single-digit) nacre thickness results into one number.
6. Report a strand nacre thickness to two decimal place precision.
 

yssie

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Ten-nyo described in original post next to 6-6.5 uncerted baby gemmies (also from Andrew Moline):

WhatsApp Image 2020-11-10 at 4.54.18 PM (1).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2020-11-10 at 4.54.11 PM.jpeg


WhatsApp Image 2020-11-10 at 4.54.58 PM.jpeg


Hanadama described in original post next to 6-6.5 uncerted baby gemmies:

1608697886853.png


Well, #They'reRealPearls quality akoya (not described in original post) next to 6-6.5 uncerted baby gemmies:

1608697983692.png
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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The mirror sharpness on those babies is amazing! Do you think it’s the small size supporting that? I noticed that @MakingTheGrade‘s baby pearls are super lustrous too. I wonder if you can get that in bigger sizes?

@MakingTheGrade's babies and mine are from the same strand! That strand is split amongst seven PSers :bigsmile:

I think you're dead on in that luster is easier to come by in smaller sizes. I think it's possible to not compromise on luster as size increases, but rarity - and therefore cost - increases exponentially.

All these akoya are from Andrew. The smallest pearls are the 6-6.5mm gemmy babies. The middle-sized pair is the 8-8.5mm akoya from the original post. The large studs are 9.7mm akoya.

The babies are very lustrous (sharp reflections) and very "contrasty" (black reflections look very black, white reflections look very white, vs. more a muted differentiation), but they've got the most surface blemishing of the three. The middle-sized pearls are every bit as lustrous and contrasty as the babies, and they're also cleaner. The largest pearls have the smoothest skins and no blemishing, but - if I put my #SeriouslyNitpicking hat on - reflections aren't as sharp as the smaller pearls.

1.png

2.png

4.png


Spotlights show the difference in skin smoothness best, I think.

3.png


6-6.5mm gemmies (strand is doubled up a few times) next to 8-8.5mm gems. The 8-8.5s are more pink IRL, but this photo exaggerates the colour difference.

WhatsApp Image 2020-11-10 at 2.19.20 PM.jpeg
 
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oceanblue

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I would love to compare, in person, one of these gem grade strands to what I just bought and posted. Though, haha, the last thing I need is another strand of experimental pearls en route to my house.
 

oceanblue

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Well we recently moved to Texas so I have to play the part, "everything is bigger in TX" and "go big or go home"!

In all seriousness you are right. It would be fun to compare one or two gem Akoyas with all the other types and grades.
 

Snowdrop13

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@MakingTheGrade's babies and mine are from the same strand! That strand is split amongst seven PSers :bigsmile:

I think you're dead on in that luster is easier to come by in smaller sizes. I think it's possible to not compromise on luster as size increases, but rarity - and therefore cost - increases exponentially.

All these akoya are from Andrew. The smallest pearls are the 6-6.5mm gemmy babies. The middle-sized pair is the 8-8.5mm akoya from the original post. The large studs are 9.7mm akoya.

The babies are very lustrous (sharp reflections) and very "contrasty" (black reflections look very black, white reflections look very white, vs. more a muted differentiation), but they've got the most surface blemishing of the three. The middle-sized pearls are every bit as lustrous and contrasty as the babies, and they're also cleaner. The largest pearls have the smoothest skins and no blemishing, but - if I put my #SeriouslyNitpicking hat on - reflections aren't as sharp as the smaller pearls.

1.png

2.png

4.png


Spotlights show the difference in skin smoothness best, I think.

3.png


6-6.5mm gemmies (strand is doubled up a few times) next to 8-8.5mm gems. The 8-8.5s are more pink IRL, but this photo exaggerates the colour difference.

WhatsApp Image 2020-11-10 at 2.19.20 PM.jpeg

Ahh, that explains why they are equally beautiful! Very interesting that the mirror like surface does not necessarily equate to blemish free.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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I forgot to add reports for some of the pearls I posted earlier. I asked Andrew to send them to PSL for me, and he kindly arranged to have reports done before they were shipped out.

The shared 6-6.5mm gemmy babies:
1608871892359.png

My 9.5-10mm studs (my calipers have them at 9.63mm and 9.65mm - a perfect match):
IMG_2708.JPG
 
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