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Colourplay in White South Seas!

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
Some friends and I were thinking about WSS studs, and we had three pairs shipped out to see in-person. Sharing some photos that might be helpful to others looking for WSS ::)

All photos taken with either my phone (iPhone XS) or camera (Canon g7x II). All pics are unedited except for cropping and text add.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
First up - colour!!


Setting up for some comparisons with some of my older pearls... I already own a pair of WSS studs - mine are 11.9mm, from Pearl Paradise. They're leftmost in this pic. The middle pearls are a pair of unbranded gem quality akoya (9.7mm), and the right pair are Mikimoto AAA akoya (bought as 9.25mm, actually 9.45mm per the calipers). Left photo taken in the shade, right taken in direct (but waning) sunlight.

I've always heard that "Mikimoto likes blue". It's true. The Mikimoto akoya have a very strong pink overtone and quite a strong blue secondary, and they've got some green, too.

My old WSS... I knew that they had "quite a bit of blue", but I didn't realize just how much until I compared these pearls!! My old WSS are pink and blue. There might be a vague hint of green, if you squint in the brightest sunlight. Maybe.

The middle pair of akoya - the bottom pearl has pink, blue, and some green. The top has pink, more green, and less blue. In-person the distinction is hardly ever visible - this is the absolute max differential I ever see, in any lighting environment.

SUNLIGHT_AKOYA_COMP.png

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In this pic my old WSS (11.9mm) are leftmost, again. Second from left are a pair of 10-11 (actually 10.7mm) WSS that we had sent out. Second from right, a new pair of 11-12mm (actually 11.6mm) to look at, and rightmost - a 13-14mm (actually 13.4mm) pair. Photo taken in the middle of the day, in shade beside a window.

This pic shows the overtone differences between these four pairs of WSS quite well. What's interesting is that I'll bet if you eliminated overtone, you could chip a bit of nacre from each of these pairs and wind up with equally white specimens - those overtones really do affect real-world colour-sense!!

My old WSS pair is strongly pink and blue. The blue both neutralizes creaminess IRL and adds "weight" (ie. Neutral light grey as opposed to neutral white). The pinks and greens in the other three pairs create an overall creamy impression in-person, which kind of makes sense - both red and green need yellow, whilst blue opposes yellow...

Thge 10-11mm pair is the pinkest pair of WSS pearls I think I've ever seen. These two pearls also have quite a bit of green in them, too. The bottom 10-11mm pearl has some blue, but the top really doesn't have any, so the top looks less neutral, more creamy than the bottom. That top pearl is actually pretty strongly directional (there's one side wherein it does show some blue, and if that side is facing up it looks much more similar to the bottom pearl - this is her worst angle).

The new 11-12mm pair has no blue and minimal pink. The top pearl has stronger green overtone than the bottom pearl.

And the 13-14mm pair... In this photo it looks like the bottom pearl has some blue/silver, but in-person I just see "pink and green", and in the top pearl I see "stronger pink, same green". I don't see blue in either of these pearls. Other photos I'll post later show this better, I think.

SUNLIGHT1_ALLFOUR_LINEDUP.png

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Same four WSS pairs, just mixing the 10-11mm and new 11-12mm mates up! I think these photos show the true overtones of the 13-14mm pearls especially well.

SUNLIGHT_ALLFOUR_MIXED.png

- - - - - - - - - -

In these three pics I'm comparing WSS with akoya. The differences in overtone are so interesting!! My old WSS are so akoya-like in colour - they actually have more blue/silver than my Mikimoto akoya. They look steely with pink soap-bubble halos in-person. I know that blue is very rare in WSS, I got really lucky with this pair.

The 10-11mm WSS and 13-14mm WSS are the opposite of the akoya in that both pairs of WSS have pink "eyes" and green "halos", whilst the akoya have the opposite. I think the leftmost photo shows just how darn strong the pink in those 10-11mm WSS is!! And the green, too. This is such a lively pair of WSS - definitely my colour favourite of the three new pairs. Too bad greens don't work on me and my friends!!

SUNLIGHT_THREEPICS_COMP.png

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These next two sets of pics were taken at night under a sunlamp. All sunlamps lie and mine's no exception - #GotGreen? My poor Canon turns into a Nikon :lol:

In both of these photos the 10-11mm WSS are face-up in their best-matching angle, and they look very nicely matched in colour. The difference in strength of green in the newer 11-12mm WSS pearls is... Unfortunate, and unfortunately persistent throughout lighting environments. Both these photos were taken under some sort of spotlight, which is the most unforgiving lighting for matching pearls - in a lightbox the overtone nuances fade away and the pearls are all fabulous and fabulously matched. Lighbox lies!! :bigsmile:

Colour2-Indoor.png
Colour1-Indoor.png

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A couple of phone photos in the car. My phone exaggerates greens, and the middle pair looks much more green here than IRL!! I remember that my old iPhone had problems with greens too. I wonder if they're auto-tuned for pretty landscapes or something. These photos are true to luster, though. More on that later.

Car1.png

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And two more iPhone car photos. I was seeing the oddest thing in-person... I tried to capture it but the phone amps green up too much. But... If you cover up the right photo, and just look at the left pic, you can kind of see how this pair could look "neutral"? Just "white"? This is the 13-14mm pair. It's really hard to ignore the green in the pic, I know. But that's what I was doing in the car - holding my thumb in front of the bottom pair, and just seeing "two white pearls". Then moving my thumb to expose the bottom pair (which are my trustee old pink and blue WSS) and all of a sudden the top pair looks downright olive.

Actually, in the right photo here, the phone cam rebalanced colour and the top pair legitimately is olive. Sigh. Well. I had fun playing peekaboo even if none of y'all's can share it with me.

Coverup_Car.png

I should probably avoid making any generalized value judgments, but... In WSS I know that blue/silver is rare and prized. And green is more common and usually viewed as less desirable. I don't know where the industry falls on pink - personally, the more the better! But I've learnt that I strongly prefer some blue to cut the warmth that any yellow-containing overtones add, and turns out my friends do too.
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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22,079
My eyes go to your old WSS in all the photos, except when your akoyas are present.

Ours too. I knew I got lucky with that pair. I didn't know how lucky. I was really hoping we'd get lucky again :(sad
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Next up - luster and iridescence ::)


Okay. So y'all know that I've been chatting with some authors of some pearl papers. These days I start any emails with some personal definitions, just to make sure that we're using the same terminology. So far noone's objected to my verbiage so I'll go ahead and do that here.

I define "luster" as "how sharply can you see your environment reflected in the pearl?". And I define "contrast" as "how dark are the blacks in the reflections, and how light are the whites?". And iridescence is always a fancy way to describe the soap-bubble colour halos that we all know and love.

But with South Seas there's one other thing I've seen, much more so than in Tahitians or akoya. Some South Seas are metallic - they glisten and shine like their surfaces are made of very finely brushed metal. Other South Seas are like plastic... Imagine you put a high-gloss finish on a grey or yellow slab. It could be superbly lustrous, and it could have excellent contrast, but it would still look, y'know, like glossy plastic. But now imagine the back of a CD, if you couldn't see the ridges - put a high-gloss finish on that and now you've got luster, contrastiness, metallic surface and iridescence... This metallic-ness is definitely more of a concern with South Seas than any other pearl type I've encountered!

Here's a paper describing it:
Snow, Pring, Self, Losic, Shapter. (2004) The origin of the color of pearls in iridescence from nano-composite structures of the nacre.


My main takehome here is going to be... Beware photos like this one, which have primary (diffuse) light source behind the pearls (or rather, which put the pearl directly between you and a primary diffuse light source). This lighting setup hugely equalizes luster and contrastiness - great pearls look great, mediocre pearls look almost as great. That's true... In this very specific type of lighting!! But in any other environment the great pearls will stay great and the less great pearls will turn meh pretty quickly.

This pic has three WSS pairs lined up.

1_PRIMARYLIGHT_DIFFUSEBEHINDPEARLS copy.png

To be fair here - none of these pearls are "mediocre" or "meh". They're all really really nice!! Degrees of really really nice. In the above pics - they all look reasonably similar right?

Below is a slightly different setup. Now I'm comparing the 10-11mm WSS (left in the above pic) to akoya, and the new 11-12mm WSS (right in the above pic) to the same akoya. Ignoring the akoya for a moment, the fact that the new 11-12mm WSS pair is less lustrous and contrasty than the 10-11mm pair is obvious here!!

The two 10-11mm pearls... They're of different quality and this picture highlights that. The 10-11mm WSS with stronger green overtone is less lustrous and less contrasty than its mate, but has smoother skin.

1_LUSTERREAL.png

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A very strong point-source of light behind pearls highlights both luster and iridescence. In these three photos I lined my old WSS up next to the 10-11mm WSS, new 11-12mm WSS, and 13-14mm WSS. I ranked them from most to least lustrous/contrasty and most to least iridescent in-person, and then I ranked them by photos, and I was surprised-not-surprised to find that I'd ranked them exactly the same both IRL and in photos. Good to know for future.

The TLDR of this pic - sharper reflections and more contrastiness in photos conveys directly to real world viewing. More soap bubble effect in photos conveys directly to more colourful iridescence in-person, and more iridescence almost always means more metallic-ness. (I've personally never seen a case where that's not true, but I'm not an expert and I've not confirmed this with any experts, so I'll leave myself the out.)

IRID_AND_LUSTER.png
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
All these photos shared with my friends’ okay. I’ll be withholding identifying info about customers and vendors though.

Here’s me in the 13.4mm studs that I wanted to look at. I'll most likely keep these. They're MUCH larger than I'll ever wear regularly but they're... Well. Oddly satisfying. :bigsmile:

TWO.jpg
ONE.jpg
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 14, 2009
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22,079
They’re super heavy, I can really feel them tugging!! These are definitely blingdots-required for me!! And they look very casual. My friends’ size choices are much more all-wear :bigsmile:

I’ll put them on the scale tomorrow, I’m curious...
 

CMN

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jun 2, 2018
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173
Dear @yssie, thank you for your posts - I learn so much from these.

I don’t follow the below extracted part of your post though explaining a type of light setup that can be deceptive. As the pearls In the photos are on a solid opaque surface I can’t quite figure out where the diffuse light source is relative to the viewer as you describe. I am interested if you are able to clarify.

My main takehome here is going to be... Beware photos like this one, which have primary (diffuse) light source behind the pearls (or rather, which put the pearl directly between you and a primary diffuse light source). This lighting setup hugely equalizes luster and contrastiness - great pearls look great, mediocre pearls look almost as great. That's true... In this very specific type of lighting!! But in any other environment the great pearls will stay great and the less great pearls will turn meh pretty quickly.

This pic has three WSS pairs lined up.

1_PRIMARYLIGHT_DIFFUSEBEHINDPEARLS copy.png
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
I don’t follow the below extracted part of your post though explaining a type of light setup that can be deceptive. As the pearls In the photos are on a solid opaque surface I can’t quite figure out where the diffuse light source is relative to the viewer as you describe. I am interested if you are able to clarify.
Ooh. Thanks so much for bringing this up - my description really wasn’t so great here!!

I’ve got to run out for some chores - I’ll be back later today ❤️
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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@CMN I started a new thread. Thanks again for bringing it up, it's definitely worth more discussion!!
 

katbran

Brilliant_Rock
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I prefer your old WSS studs, by far, to any of the other WSS.
While nice the big ones look a bit too big - but that could just be me. I find anything over 13mm to be just too heavy. I do better with them as dangles since they never seem to sit on my ear properly and eventually pull forward.

I have a large pair of Paspaley - 14mm baroque that I set for myself with 18 k tops and lever back horseshoe shaped hoops . They are BIG pearls and I can wear them pretty comfortably for a good 8 hrs. For me I can not hang them on wire hoops as it makes my ears sore :( Definitely need a thick post and a short drop. Too much swinging on a big pearl ... ouch
 
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