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My Pearls are Peeling - are they real?

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hello. My grandmother passed a few months ago. She left me this double strand of pearls with a 14k gold and sapphire clasp. One of the strands has broken off the clasp. I was looking into getting this repaired when I saw some peeling on one of the pearls. I ran my fingernail over another pearl and the nacre peeled off! Are these even real pearls? Any help is appreciated.

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NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
It's hard to tell with the photo's you provided but with a 14k sapphire clasp, I would assume so. This is what I would do if they were given to me. Go to the store and buy a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid baby Soap and a gallon of distilled water. Put a teaspoon in a bowl with tepid water. (not hot, not cold, you don't want them shocked and the whole nacre to pop off the MOP bead)

Cut the strand apart and carefully slip the pearls into the dish. Let them sit for a few minutes. While this is going on put some cotton thread onto a beading needle. Empty the water out of the bowl and replace with tepid clean water, then drain and put the pearls onto a soft cotton towel. If there is any oil and makeup residue we can see from your photos remaining, wipe it off with a soft cotton cloth.

Pull out the damaged pearls and string the pearls onto the cotton thread. This not only removes any dirt, makeup and oils that have slipped into the hole from the soiled silk, the cotton thread drys the inside of the pearl.
Find a trusted jeweler who deals in Akoya pearls and have them restring the strand.

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bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Thank you so very much for taking the time to post this reply. I sincerely appreciate your time and help.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
bizzarrea, It appears from your photo you have more than just one pearl with damage to the nacre. Once they are cleaned up it will be easier for you to appraise the damage to the pearls in your strand. If you find you have too many to make it wearable as a double strand you have options. Use the damaged pearls but have them restrung up near the clasp so they are hidden by your collar or hair. Take out the damaged pearls and add gold beads or even gemstones to add some length. This may make your strand more modern in appearance and something you would reach for more often to wear. Trying to find matching pearls to add into your strand will be a problem since these are discolored with age. This probably is worth a revamp, not just because you got it from your family line, but because it's a antique and has value. Please let us know what you do with it.
 

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hello and thank you so much for your help. I will definitely look into re-arranging the pearls to put the damaged ones near the back where my hair will fall. Do you know what it will cost for this type of repair? Do you know what type of value they have with and without the repair? Would it. W wasteful to change it to a single strand necklace? Again fbank you. I appreciate so much your advice and help.
 

Pearlescence

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Oct 3, 2013
Messages
426
Hi
If you are going to wash them I would not recommend cutting up the strand first. A novice, especially, will have a terrible job getting the pearls back into order.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
I am sorry, I can't give you a value. You haven't told us the size of your pearls and I am not even sure at this point what type they are. If they are old , more than likely they are akoya's. Some appear off round which makes me think freshwater, but freshwater rounds are too new to be vintage pearls. Besides, freshwater's don't peel. If you take them to a jeweler who deals in pearls after you clean them up, that person may be able to give you some help. Look for a GIA graduate on staff, not just a mall jewelry store. A phone call before going to them will save you a lot of driving around.

If you decide to pull out the old pearls to create a single strand you won't be able to use this clasp, but there are many single stands clasps out there to choose from. You are lucky, this strand was not really graduated so you could also have it created into a two strand bracelet, if that is something you think you'd like to wear.

I would call around to your local jewelers for quotes for restringing. It's common to charge a dollar per inch I believe. Not all jewelers do this job in house and many send them out which drives up the costs since everyone wants their cut of your job plus mailing them or delivery charges. Look for a jeweler who does work done in house. Again a phone call is all that is needed and saves you time.. If you can't find anyone, we have people in our trusted vendor sticky who you can mail them to safely for your restringing needs.
 

ennui

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Messages
995
I wish I could find a pearl stringer who only charged $1/inch. :o

bizzarea, it would be helpful to see your pearls photographed against a plain white background, like a white paper towel. I think they are picking up the color of the fabric, making them look darker.

If you decide that your pearls are too fragile to wear, you should still keep them. You could use the clasp on new pearls.

I would wash them as is (not cutting them apart), using the Dr. Bronner's baby soap. I've done that with my pearls. Lay them out carefully on a soft towel to dry, and leave them for a few days. Then you'll have a better idea of what you have. If the peeling pearls are already near the clasp, you could at least wear them a few times and see how you feel about the necklace.
 

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hello everyone. You are all so wonderful and helpful. I love this website. It has the most considerate helpful members. Thank you. Someday I hope I can be as knowledgeable as all of you and help others the way you do.

I love, love the idea of making this into a bracelet! This is much more my style (I don't wear necklaces often). I would definitely keep the same double strand clasp and shorten it to make the bracelet. I will seek out a qualified GIA jeweler to help in the restring.

Here are more photos on a white background, as well. Unfortunately I know nothing about giving you the size, or giving more detail. I'm such an amateur at this! I put a nickel next to the necklace in a few photos, maybe that will help. The last photo here is the best photo I could get of the actual peeling. You can see is very dramatic.

Thank you all again!
Sarah

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NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Sarah, Have you considered washing them yourself yet? These photo's have me more confused with the better shots. A good washing should make it easier to see exactly what you have here. I've seen akoya's peel but the mop bead shows when the nacre pops off, your's have another layer of nacre. My husband was looking at these with me and wondered if some layer of body oils / makeup residue/hairspray is what popped off leaving the nacre underneath.
 

ennui

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Messages
995
NacreLover|1479826157|4101452 said:
Sarah, Have you considered washing them yourself yet? These photo's have me more confused with the better shots. A good washing should make it easier to see exactly what you have here. I've seen akoya's peel but the mop bead shows when the nacre pops off, your's have another layer of nacre. My husband was looking at these with me and wondered if some layer of body oils / makeup residue/hairspray is what popped off leaving the nacre underneath.
I agree. They definitely need to be cleaned. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it is just dirt?

On the sentimental side, it looks like grandmother wore those pearls a lot!
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Yes, Ennui, It would be even better is these are real golden akoya's, not fakes.... Also, can we see a side shot of one of the loose pearls so we can see the drill hole? A clean one of possible.
 

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hello my new friends. Thank you to every one that has helped in this forum. You're all amazing people. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Well, I did take ONE pearl on the end by the clasp and washed it off. A series of unfortunate events occurred - 1) the clasp totally disconnected from this side, and 2) the pearl fell completely off. At this point, the peeling layer was not gone. So I rubbed it a little harder with the towel, and the outer layer came off complete. Inside is only a soft white glass of some sort. A milky color if you will. Here are the photos if you want to see. :( I'm so sad to say that I don't think they are real. My heart is broken. Thank you all so much for your support.

Sarah

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bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hi everyone. I've actually been researching this - and it appears that the white bead inside the peel is the nucleus. I think these ARE real!! :)

I remember when I was young, 6-18 years old, my grandmother seemed to live in these. They are very sentimental to me. I am so thankful I have them. Even if they weren't real, I love them so much. They are a piece of her memory. I miss her so much.

Sarah
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Some create faux pearls using MOP beads also. It makes them feel more real weight wise. Here is a photo of different grades of Mop beads.

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NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Sarah, Are you going to clean these up and hope to find enough for a bracelet? Or can we help you find some new loose pearls so the item can be worn again. It may be cheaper than you think.... (we are enablers, and after all, the world is our oyster)
 

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hi Nacrelover. Oh yes, I absolutely will clean these up! I need to order the soap online - I can't find it here in California locally near my home. I want to make it into a double strand bracelet. I will wear it on special occasions. I would wear it every day if I could, but they seem so fragile to me. The center of my pearls look like the very farthest left small mop bead - without the brown stripe. That's exactly how mine looks inside this damaged pearl. :) Thank you so much!

Hahaha. Enablers. The world is our oyster. :) You're funny. I will keep you updated and post more pics once I have them cleaned and restrung into the bracelet. Do you know if the jeweler to restring will also clean them for me? Or should I go ahead and do that myself?
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
I live in CA also. I bought mine last week at Sprouts. But any health food type store usually carries it. Whole foods etc even GNC has it.
 

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Oh, wow!! Thank you! I don't eat very healthy - I would have never checked there. :D I will go there tonight.
 

bizzarrea

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
12
Hi Nacrelover - I just reread your post with the MOP picture and realize that I misread it. Since the pearl underneath looks like MOP, they're fake. I'm going to clean them up anyways and take them to a jeweler. I still want to restring them into a bracelet. Thanks.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
I think you miss understood me. The MOP beads can be found in faux and cultured pearls. They don't necessasarally use glass or plastic beads in faux pearls. I was given multiple strands of faux pearls with mop beads inside by my friend. The weight is the same as genuine pearl strands.

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ennui

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Messages
995
bizzarrea|1479853828|4101621 said:
Hi Nacrelover - I just reread your post with the MOP picture and realize that I misread it. Since the pearl underneath looks like MOP, they're fake.
The MOP bead does not mean they are fake, it means they are cultured. Akoya pearls are cultured with a small MOP bead, and then the oyster lays the nacre over the bead. Cultured pearls are real pearls, with a little help from the pearl farmer.

I found Dr. Bronner's at TJMaxx. Check Marshall's, as well, in the beauty section.
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,117
Hi, the easiest way to test if they are cultured pearls ie a bead which a pearl has coated with nacre vs an artificial coating, is to gently "rub" the pearls over the edge of your top teeth. If the pearl surface seems "gritty" that is natural pearl nacre coating, if it is totally smooth, then the coating is artificial. Natural ie all pearl pearls made 100% by nature are rare and very expensive, most pearls you can buy are cultured, the quality varies, the more time left in the oyster, the more nacre coating and these are more expensive. Irrespective of whether they are real or not, they are a special family heirloom and hopefully you can restring the pearls for a lovely bracelet. I have a very battered and damaged Opal ring of my grandmas and it is my most special piece of jewellery because all of that scratching and chipping was done while my grandma wore it and she wore it and wore it. I always feel a bit closer to her when I wear the ring.
 

boerumbiddy

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 15, 2013
Messages
529
This is slightly off topic, but not too far: I recently bought a very reasonable and nice-looking strand of "pearls" on Ebay with a gold clasp set with a tiny diamond. It was an estate sale and the seller was convinced his great, great aunt had real pearls. But when I got them, they didn't pass the grit test.
My jeweler was initially fooled, too, especially with the nice old clasp. It turns out they are Majorca (fish-scale) manufactured pearls, with which I am sure you are familiar, but old and well-made ones, elegantly matched and tapered in size and just a TRIFLE wonky in shape. I have had a lot of compliments on them. They were sold with no returns, and at the price I paid I am not angry. I am sorry that your family member and my seller's did not get to have "realness," though.
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,240
They look exactly like imitation pearls to me.

The way the drill hole is beveled, the milk glass bead (doesn't look like MOP to me from the photos) and the way the peeled coating is wrinkled and bunched up all make them look like fake pearls.

Also around some of the photos of drill holes, there is excess coating, which is what you would see with fake pearls. Where you can see the edge of the coating on the peeled pearls, the coating is too thin to be genuine nacre.

If still in doubt I suggest you look at them with a jeweler's loupe (a 10x magnifier.) Real nacre is very fine gained, while imitation pearl coating looks coarser in texture.
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,240
Too late to edit my previous post, but I meant to write opaline glass, not milk glass. For example, Majorica imitation pearls use opaline glass.
 

Siameseroo

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
1,475
boerumbiddy, regardless of the no refunds policy, surely they can be returned on the basis that the seller misreperented the item? You could instigate a dispute via your credit card company or PayPal if the seller is unwilling to accomodate.

Having said that, if you didn't pay much for the pearls and like them, keep them! Majorca imitation pearls are very pretty. But all things being equal, you should not be paying real pearl prices for imitation. Note: Majorca are often more expensive/valuable than cheap, commercial grade freshwater pearls.
 
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