Oh my goodness, they’re using pearls to seed other pearls. What’s the problem with that?
A quick review
Saltwater pearls, like freshwater pearls, are produced by nucleation. A bead of shell-like material is inserted into the oyster. Nacre is exuded internally, coating the bead to reduce irritation. The result is a pearl.
The exception to this production method is the keshi pearl, which is nacre through and through. Mabe pearls have a flat side, which means that the nucleating bead was nacred over and formed into a pearl near the side of the shell. All pearls are therefore “cultured,” since something was inserted so that the mollusk could coat it with nacre.
All of this is pearl production in review. The point is that when you saw a pearl in half, you’ll find a bead in its center. The Gem Lab recently found a pearl in the center.
Pinna pearl nucleus
A Pinna pearl, a brown pearl of low quality and value, was found as the nucleating agent in some South Sea pearls, or Pinctada pearls, sent in for analysis. Sawing the pearls in half indeed revealed a nucleating agent that was, at first, unidentifiable. Its constitution was organic. Radiography and FTIR spectroscopy of the nucleating bead revealed the same patterns as a pinna pearl. So, instead of using low-valued material such as shell beads to nucleate the producing oyster of these South Sea pearls, another low-valued material, the brown irregularly shaped Pinna pearl, was used.
So what? While I find this an interesting use of a low value pearl, Gem Lab found it insulting and unnatural, even though the nucleating material was a natural pearl. They said, and I quote…
“The occurrence of cultured pearls beaded by the use of natural Pinna pearls is an extremely disturbing incidence which will make the determination of natural pearls once again more problematic…
The nucleating Pinna pearl made the Lab analysis more difficult as it could not readily distinquish an unnatural nucleating bead from a natural one. The pearls under analysis had natural nacre through and through. Now, somebody tell me, what’s unnatural about that? If such pearls are frauds, send your South Sea pearls over to me.
What this production method allows is for larger harvests of beautiful South Sea pearls. For us decidedly unwealthy ladies, pearl jewelry lovers, and innovative jewelry designers is greater availability and affordability of beautiful gems of the southern saltwater seas.
I’m not complaining, but the Laboratory is.
Sources: embedded in the text