Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Pearl newbie!

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
So I've been researching pearls for a few days, and while I understand obvious signs like perfect spheres & surfaces, drilled holes, size, chipped/flaking coats, etc; how do you identity genuine antique & vintage pearl jewellery online from estate sales and the like?

How do you recognise a natural (wild or farmed) pearl from a fake (glass, plastic, etc and a imitation (shell) online? Can't good faux pearls mimic the blemishes, overtones and such of a real one?

I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings. Other than that, and handling farmed dyed pearls intended for craft jewellery/play, I can't tell if some pearls I've been looking at online are genuine unless they're incredibly cheap looking, huge, and generally flawless.

Here are some antique and vintage examples of what I think may be real pearls. Please let me know if I was right, and why; or wrong, and why I got them wrong! I'd love to learn without making any mistakes involving money,

https://www.rubylane.com/item/880551-5951-151010-osbh/14K-Gold-BLACK-PEARL-RING-Size

https://www.rubylane.com/item/801957-176/Nouveau-Pearl-Ring-14-kt-Ornate

https://www.rubylane.com/item/474691-x284T16x29/Vintage-THREE-PEARL-RING-18K-Gold

https://www.rubylane.com/item/299630-209/Sterling-Silver-Pearl-Ring

https://www.rubylane.com/item/1526357-0032/Antique-10k-White-Gold-H-SI

(I believe this one is dyed, but... Real or faux dyed?)
https://www.rubylane.com/item/1105910-EM613/14K-6-5mm-Black-Pearl-Diamond
 

BWeaves

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
346
When the seller does not give mm size for the pearls, does not show the back side of the pearls, AND the photos are out of focus, it's hard to tell anything about the pearls.

To me, the black rings look dyed. The others look like akoyas, although the last white ones are very dull. I think it would be odd to see fake pearls in solid 14K gold rings, but that doesn't mean they are good pearls, just that they are cultured pearls (most likely).

I own both fake and real pearls, and the fake ones look different. No overtones. Very uniform across the strand (which doesn't help for a pearl ring). However, I think you would find fakes have gold filled settings or non-gold settings.
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
BWeaves|1459772215|4015177 said:
When the seller does not give mm size for the pearls, does not show the back side of the pearls, AND the photos are out of focus, it's hard to tell anything about the pearls.

To me, the black rings look dyed. The others look like akoyas, although the last white ones are very dull. I think it would be odd to see fake pearls in solid 14K gold rings, but that doesn't mean they are good pearls, just that they are cultured pearls (most likely).

I own both fake and real pearls, and the fake ones look different. No overtones. Very uniform across the strand (which doesn't help for a pearl ring). However, I think you would find fakes have gold filled settings or non-gold settings.
Which white one(s) did you reckon look dull?

Thanks for your help, it was very insightful :)
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Ring one has horrible photos and a dyed black pearl.
Ring two may be old, but again may not be. Ring bumps in the bottom of the shank are a new addition.
Ring three is a new ring that has been recently created with two types of components by a bench jeweler with freshwater pearls.
Ring four could be from the 40-70's and has a small akoya pearl
Ring five is a new ring that is created to look old with pearls with no luster. How do I know? No points of this ring show ususal points of wear to any of the crosshatch surface. More than likely these are freshwater.
Ring six a dyed pearl.

I wouldn't buy any of these rings. The sellers give you no information on the quality or type of pearls you are buying. Ring two of any of them may be old, but again, may not be.
 

BWeaves

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
346
I agree with NacreLover. That's exactly what I thought about each of them, too.

Also, I do not think any of those rings are attractive, but that's just me.
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,239
It's true that normally fake pearls would not be set in real gold settings.
I don't think any of the pearls here are fake, and also none are natural.
I'm also not impressed with any of the pieces.

1. The black pearl is likely a dyed akoya.
• Akoyas do not come naturally black
• Tahitian pearls are not cultured so small.
• BTW the entire photo looks much yellower than it should be. What sort of lighting did the seller use, and why??

2. Likely cultured akoya.
• Very round-- has a bead inside

3. The center pearl does look like a dyed fwp. Therefore it's likely the two white pearls are also fwp, but they could be thin-nacre akoyas (but why would they pair akoyas with a dyed fwp? so probably they are fwp also.)

4. Cultured akoya
• surface marks are like that of an akoya
• nowadays there are lots of FWP set in cheap silver rings, but the "sterling" lettering is worn, so it does seem to be an older ring
• FWP were not being cultured so round long enough ago to account for that much wear on the sterling mark.

5. Surface texture looks like akoya

6. Dyed akoya
 

ennui

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Messages
995
I didn't think that 10k ring looked like an antique. Just because something is at an estate sale, doesn't mean it's old.

Any particular reason for wanting an antique pearl ring? The pearls may have poor lustre from being worn, and exposed to years of soaps and lotions.

If you find a setting you love that is of good quality and can be reworked, you can always have a new pearl set into it.
 

seaurchin

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
900
"...I'd love to learn without making any mistakes involving money,..."

Hi, Wolfrott. Just wanted to add that I don't think money is much of an issue here. Unless it was some type of exotic pearl, a small, older pearl probably wouldn't be worth more than a fake pearl anyway.

Also, you mention you have a "shell pearl." I guess you know shell pearls aren't real?

1) Anyway, my non-expert guess is that the first one is a dyed akoya pearl. The setting is 14k so it would be logical to use a real pearl, Also, it appears round and most older freshwater pearls were off-round. Either way, it would also be dyed. Black isn't a natural shade for akoyas or freshwaters and it looks too small to be a Tahitian.

2) It might be a natural colored gray akoya pearl. They come in that color naturally. However, since it's so round it would most likely be a cultured pearl, not a natural pearl (although it could be). Sometimes people use "natural" when they mean "genuine," but a "natural" pearl is really a "wild" pearl, one that would be found in the wild. Cultured pearls are far more common and they are farmed, with a shell bead implanted in the pearl oyster. Freshwater pearls are usually cultured with a piece of tissue from the mussel rather than with a round shell bead, but recently round shell beads can be used in them sometimes as well, due to improved methods but that's usually done with larger pearls and probably later than the age of this ring. Anyway, because of its somewhat unusual coloring I'd also guess it could also be a more unusual, natural pearl from a different type of mollusk.

3) I'd guess a dyed black akoya and two white akoyas.

4) ince it's sterling silver (less expensive) and the setting looks more modern than the others, I think, as well as the flatter shape (freshwater pearls without a round bead nucleus tend to be more often less perfectly round), I'll guess it's a freshwater pearl. If it was fake, I'd think they'd use a round fake pearl.

5) I guess I'll say akoyas rather than freshwaters because it looks older than when the freshwater culturing methods allowed for many round ones. And because if we trust the description, it has pretty high quality diamonds, indicating a bit more expensive ring all-around (akoyas usually cost more than freshwaters).

6) I'll guess dyed black akoya. When it's real gold, especially with diamonds, and older (when more advanced methods made round freshwaters more scarce) I'd guess akoya.

Hey, that was kind of fun.
 

cmd2014

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 6, 2014
Messages
2,497
I wouldn't buy any of them. Ruby Lane is notorious for selling items that are not as described for outrageous prices. None of those items are good pearls. The black ones are either dyed freshwater or really low quality died akoya pearls. The rest are all dull with no luster (and that's saying something as pictures enhance luster on pearls in my experience, so they look shinier in the pictures than IRL). It is possible to find really cheap Akoya pearls that will be of poor quality pretty much anywhere. You'd do much better skipping eBay and Ruby Lane and instead buy from one of the reputable vendors listed here. That way you will be assured of getting items as described at a fair price, and can return them if they don't suit you.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
OP, I was curious about what you said here :
I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings.



From the Barilla Bay website:
South Sea Oyster shell pearls
The South-Sea Shell Pearl has recently become very popular due to it's perfect lustre, shape and weight. These pearls are made from oyster shell, the very same material that make up a South-Sea pearl. Oyster shells are crushed and then reformed into pearls. South-Sea shell pearls never lose their lustre or colour. All jewellery is set in sterling silver. Theses pearls make for a perfect gift or a why not treat yourself and by one today.
We have a variety of jewellery to select from including necklaces, bracelets and both stud and drop earrings
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,239
Yes-- shell pearls are really imitation pearls. They are just made a different way than the more common imitations pearls that are made with a coating derived from fish scales. Both are man-made.

I enjoy wearing well-made imitations pearls in addition to my real ones. I just feel that the sellers of imitation pearls should be very clear that what they are selling is a man-made product, and not genuine pearls.
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
ennui|1459781389|4015229 said:
I didn't think that 10k ring looked like an antique. Just because something is at an estate sale, doesn't mean it's old.

Any particular reason for wanting an antique pearl ring? The pearls may have poor lustre from being worn, and exposed to years of soaps and lotions.

If you find a setting you love that is of good quality and can be reworked, you can always have a new pearl set into it.
I didn't say that those particular rings were genuine antiques, I just grabbed random pearls to test myself against experienced scrutinizers :) To challenge myself.

My plan to hunt down an antique or vintage item is because I love antiques, but haven't begun on antique jewellery yet, (I collect pocket watches & a large variety of other items with my twin) and pearls interested me the most.
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
seaurchin|1459788980|4015276 said:
"...I'd love to learn without making any mistakes involving money,..."

Hi, Wolfrott. Just wanted to add that I don't think money is much of an issue here. Unless it was some type of exotic pearl, a small, older pearl probably wouldn't be worth more than a fake pearl anyway.

Also, you mention you have a "shell pearl." I guess you know shell pearls aren't real?

1) Anyway, my non-expert guess is that the first one is a dyed akoya pearl. The setting is 14k so it would be logical to use a real pearl, Also, it appears round and most older freshwater pearls were off-round. Either way, it would also be dyed. Black isn't a natural shade for akoyas or freshwaters and it looks too small to be a Tahitian.

2) It might be a natural colored gray akoya pearl. They come in that color naturally. However, since it's so round it would most likely be a cultured pearl, not a natural pearl (although it could be). Sometimes people use "natural" when they mean "genuine," but a "natural" pearl is really a "wild" pearl, one that would be found in the wild. Cultured pearls are far more common and they are farmed, with a shell bead implanted in the pearl oyster. Freshwater pearls are usually cultured with a piece of tissue from the mussel rather than with a round shell bead, but recently round shell beads can be used in them sometimes as well, due to improved methods but that's usually done with larger pearls and probably later than the age of this ring. Anyway, because of its somewhat unusual coloring I'd also guess it could also be a more unusual, natural pearl from a different type of mollusk.

3) I'd guess a dyed black akoya and two white akoyas.

4) ince it's sterling silver (less expensive) and the setting looks more modern than the others, I think, as well as the flatter shape (freshwater pearls without a round bead nucleus tend to be more often less perfectly round), I'll guess it's a freshwater pearl. If it was fake, I'd think they'd use a round fake pearl.

5) I guess I'll say akoyas rather than freshwaters because it looks older than when the freshwater culturing methods allowed for many round ones. And because if we trust the description, it has pretty high quality diamonds, indicating a bit more expensive ring all-around (akoyas usually cost more than freshwaters).

6) I'll guess dyed black akoya. When it's real gold, especially with diamonds, and older (when more advanced methods made round freshwaters more scarce) I'd guess akoya.

Hey, that was kind of fun.
Yep, I know what shell pearls are :) I enjoy shell pearls, but abhor of course fakes (glass, whathaveyou)
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
NacreLover|1459811853|4015435 said:
OP, I was curious about what you said here :
I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings.



From the Barilla Bay website:
South Sea Oyster shell pearls
The South-Sea Shell Pearl has recently become very popular due to it's perfect lustre, shape and weight. These pearls are made from oyster shell, the very same material that make up a South-Sea pearl. Oyster shells are crushed and then reformed into pearls. South-Sea shell pearls never lose their lustre or colour. All jewellery is set in sterling silver. Theses pearls make for a perfect gift or a why not treat yourself and by one today.
We have a variety of jewellery to select from including necklaces, bracelets and both stud and drop earrings
What about it? I know what shell pearls are :) The South Sea pearl jewellery my Mum owns aren't from Barilla though, they're from Italy I think, cultured.
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,239
I don't abhor fakes-- just prefer not to wear poor quality ones.

I like Majorica brand imitation pearls. They have an opaline glass bead in the center, but so many layers of coating that they are very durable and attractive.

My grandmother bought a strand of Majorica pearls for my mother on one of her trips back to Italy, when I in middle school. For years Mom thought they were real. (I think my grandmother must have thought she was buying Mom real pearls, too.) Mom treasured those pearls because they were a gift from her mother, and during her final few years with Alzheimer's she wore them day and night. I even restrung them for her with Power Pro so that they could go in the shower and be washed off.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Wolfrott|1459815976|4015464 said:
NacreLover|1459811853|4015435 said:
OP, I was curious about what you said here :
I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings.



From the Barilla Bay website:
South Sea Oyster shell pearls
The South-Sea Shell Pearl has recently become very popular due to it's perfect lustre, shape and weight. These pearls are made from oyster shell, the very same material that make up a South-Sea pearl. Oyster shells are crushed and then reformed into pearls. South-Sea shell pearls never lose their lustre or colour. All jewellery is set in sterling silver. Theses pearls make for a perfect gift or a why not treat yourself and by one today.
We have a variety of jewellery to select from including necklaces, bracelets and both stud and drop earrings
What about it? I know what shell pearls are :) The South Sea pearl jewellery my Mum owns aren't from Barilla though, they're from Italy I think, cultured.
I am glad you know what you have. Perhaps others like myself were interested in Barilla Bay Shell pearls and would like to more about them. We don't live in your area and this name is not familiar to most Americans.

You may want to look locally for your pearls where you can view them in person. Trying to buy online is with unscrupulous or uneducated sellers who are just trying to sell items with no knowledge of their true identity is a mine field. If you don't have genuine pearls to take in with you as a guide is even harder. You never said about what you thought about these vintage antique rings you showed us above. What did you think they were?
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
NacreLover|1459828654|4015550 said:
Wolfrott|1459815976|4015464 said:
NacreLover|1459811853|4015435 said:
OP, I was curious about what you said here :
I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings.



From the Barilla Bay website:
South Sea Oyster shell pearls
The South-Sea Shell Pearl has recently become very popular due to it's perfect lustre, shape and weight. These pearls are made from oyster shell, the very same material that make up a South-Sea pearl. Oyster shells are crushed and then reformed into pearls. South-Sea shell pearls never lose their lustre or colour. All jewellery is set in sterling silver. Theses pearls make for a perfect gift or a why not treat yourself and by one today.
We have a variety of jewellery to select from including necklaces, bracelets and both stud and drop earrings
What about it? I know what shell pearls are :) The South Sea pearl jewellery my Mum owns aren't from Barilla though, they're from Italy I think, cultured.
I am glad you know what you have. Perhaps others like myself were interested in Barilla Bay Shell pearls and would like to more about them. We don't live in your area and this name is not familiar to most Americans.

You may want to look locally for your pearls where you can view them in person. Trying to buy online is with unscrupulous or uneducated sellers who are just trying to sell items with no knowledge of their true identity is a mine field. If you don't have genuine pearls to take in with you as a guide is even harder. Good luck.
Yeah, but sadly I am bedridden so I can't go shopping anymore, I'm restricted to online purchases. If I ever won the lotto, LOL, there's a local Paspaley's though!

Barilla Bay Oysters is a Tasmanian oyster farm famous for their restaurant, and local oysters, and in turn they also sell jewellery as souvenirs and other foods.
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
NacreLover|1459828654|4015550 said:
Wolfrott|1459815976|4015464 said:
NacreLover|1459811853|4015435 said:
OP, I was curious about what you said here :
I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings.



From the Barilla Bay website:
South Sea Oyster shell pearls
The South-Sea Shell Pearl has recently become very popular due to it's perfect lustre, shape and weight. These pearls are made from oyster shell, the very same material that make up a South-Sea pearl. Oyster shells are crushed and then reformed into pearls. South-Sea shell pearls never lose their lustre or colour. All jewellery is set in sterling silver. Theses pearls make for a perfect gift or a why not treat yourself and by one today.
We have a variety of jewellery to select from including necklaces, bracelets and both stud and drop earrings
What about it? I know what shell pearls are :) The South Sea pearl jewellery my Mum owns aren't from Barilla though, they're from Italy I think, cultured.
I am glad you know what you have. Perhaps others like myself were interested in Barilla Bay Shell pearls and would like to more about them. We don't live in your area and this name is not familiar to most Americans.

You may want to look locally for your pearls where you can view them in person. Trying to buy online is with unscrupulous or uneducated sellers who are just trying to sell items with no knowledge of their true identity is a mine field. If you don't have genuine pearls to take in with you as a guide is even harder. You never said about what you thought about these vintage antique rings you showed us above. What did you think they were?
I thought that the blacks were dyed, and all of them were cultured becuase they perfectly round with no blemishes, but as to fwp vs salt or other identifying features, I was at a loss! Total newbie here for serious identification.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Sorry to hear that. If you are looking for a wild pearl, some sellers do sell them. Some also find them on the internet, but I don't know how exactly they find them. They do have to be xrayed to be sure they were not cultured.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Wolfrott|1459829678|4015557 said:
NacreLover|1459828654|4015550 said:
Wolfrott|1459815976|4015464 said:
NacreLover|1459811853|4015435 said:
OP, I was curious about what you said here :
I myself own a shell pearl from Barilla Bay Oyster farm, and my mother owns some real South Sea earrings.



From the Barilla Bay website:
South Sea Oyster shell pearls
The South-Sea Shell Pearl has recently become very popular due to it's perfect lustre, shape and weight. These pearls are made from oyster shell, the very same material that make up a South-Sea pearl. Oyster shells are crushed and then reformed into pearls. South-Sea shell pearls never lose their lustre or colour. All jewellery is set in sterling silver. Theses pearls make for a perfect gift or a why not treat yourself and by one today.
We have a variety of jewellery to select from including necklaces, bracelets and both stud and drop earrings
What about it? I know what shell pearls are :) The South Sea pearl jewellery my Mum owns aren't from Barilla though, they're from Italy I think, cultured.
I am glad you know what you have. Perhaps others like myself were interested in Barilla Bay Shell pearls and would like to more about them. We don't live in your area and this name is not familiar to most Americans.

You may want to look locally for your pearls where you can view them in person. Trying to buy online is with unscrupulous or uneducated sellers who are just trying to sell items with no knowledge of their true identity is a mine field. If you don't have genuine pearls to take in with you as a guide is even harder. You never said about what you thought about these vintage antique rings you showed us above. What did you think they were?
I thought that the blacks were dyed, and all of them were cultured becuase they perfectly round with no blemishes, but as to fwp vs salt or other identifying features, I was at a loss! Total newbie here for serious identification.
Many of the vendors have a educational section to their sites. Pearl Paradise might be a good choice to start reading. There is also another forum, but I am not able to tell you the name here.
 

Wolfrott

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
56
Here's my photos of my Barilla Bay South Sea shell pearl necklace, as people have asked.

_3315.jpeg

_3316.jpeg

_3317.jpeg

_3318.jpeg
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    June’s Birthstone Trinity
    June’s Birthstone Trinity

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.
Top