Tag Archives: pearl size



Fakes can sometimes be real pearls which have been processed to look like more valuable pearls. Popular on auction websites where people sadly buy Tahitian pearls for £5.

Two examples. The left hand pearls were described as baroque south sea pearls and the ones on the right as Tahitian blacks (this gets around the restrictions as they are describing the dye colour, not the pearl provenance) The Tahitian black pearls have some wear as they may look acceptable but the poor dyed fireballs pretending to be south sea pearls ended their days in the bin

These unhappy pearls were sold as baroque south Tahitian black – the label describes the dye

sea not the place of origin. The same stock photo

appeared at £6.70..or £7.10 from another

seller or 0.01p in an auction from a third

Note that some freshwater suppliers are working to dye big round bead nucleated pearls to resemble the finest gold south sea pearls. Individually strands look impressively close, but in a hank they look slightly ‘ear-wax’ yellow.

This photo shows loose genuine south sea pearls. Some are untreated

while others have been dyed to ‘enhance’ the colour.

Scottish River Pearls

Highly prized and very rare wild natural pearls. So protected by law that a licence is needed to sell them. The species is Margaritifera margaritifera . They are believed to live for 250 years! It is said that one reason for the Roman invasion of Britain was to gain access to the pearls.

Wild Margarififera Margaritifera pearls

Wild pearls live in several locations around the UK. All very secret

Sea of Cortez

One farm is producing mostly greys and blue shades in Mexico, re-starting a pearl history which was thriving when the Spanish invaded (see Cortez for more information)

Second Graft

What it says – a second graft happens when a mollusc is returned to the water after harvest. Its pearl sac is either re-filled, with a bead equal to the size of the pearl removed (so that the second pearl grown will be larger when that is harvested) or a keishi pearl will grow.

Seed pearls

Tiny pearls weighing under 1/4 grain, usually 3mm or less.


Generally the rounder the pearl the more valuable the pearl is.

Silver nitrate

This chemical, the same as used in photography, darkens the appearance of pearls. The chemical penetrates the layers of nacre and has a chemical reaction with light and hydrogen sulphide gas to create a rich black colour.


Generally, the bigger the pearl the more valuable, however a smaller more perfectly formed round pearl will be more valuable than a big baroque one. Pearls under 3mm in size are increasing in price as their production is falling. Pearls are measured at 90deg to the drill hole (or where the drill hole would be if undrilled)

Souffle Pearls

Very large freshwater pearls are being produced with pearls nucleated with a lump of expansive compound These pearls, third graft, can have stunning lustre and a rather keishi appearance so far. When drilled the compound and water is drained away so that the pearl is hollow and light in weight. However most freshwater cultured pearls are still solid pearl nacre, even pearls up to 15mm. This means that they are arguably more durable but the chances of non-perfect round shapes are higher.

South Sea pearls

Large South Sea cultured pearls (up to 16 mm), farmed in Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, range in colour from white to gold and to black. They can have a perfectly round to slightly asymmetrical shape and medium to high lustre Price varies depending on lustre. South Sea pearls are harvested after at least two years. They have a unique, satiny lustre that comes from the rapidly deposited nacre and warm waters of the South Seas. South Sea pearls also have a subtle array of colours, typically white, silver, and golden, Gold south sea pearls come mainly from Thailand and white south sea pearls mainly from Australia.

White round south sea pearl very baroque very blue south sea gold drop south sea pair



Baby oysters which are either artificially bred in a hatchery or spawn naturally and are attracted to collection points are called spat. They will be grown on until big enough to be implanted

Spat – size of a thumbnail

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a mix of 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The copper is added to make the metal harder. All Pearlescence Sterling silver over the required minimum weight carries the London Assay office hallmark of owner Wendy Graham (Initials wmg in an oval cartouche). All silver from Pearlescence is nickel-free.


Any long thin and stick or twig like pearl, They can be drilled at the top or middle and through the wider or narrower faces to produce different looks.

Matched large thin sticks made into earrings


The smoother and more perfect the surface of a pearl, the higher the value

Tahitian Pearls