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Faceted pearls

Hi Nan, I came across the faceted pearls about 2 years ago through a
supplier on the west coast. I too love pearls and picked up on a
couple. they were gorgeous! I did not notice the dip lines that you
mentioned. I set one of the pieces in a bezel set ring and soon sold
the piece to a client in Seattle. About 3 weeks later I got a call
saying that the pearl had a crack in it and that crack seemed to have
a hole in it. They also swore that they did not hit the piece to
cause such damage. Being around jewelry for as long as I have I know
how people really don’t have a clue just what they are doing to their
rings. Wanting to keep my client happy I had them send the ring down
and I would check into it. Receiving the piece I checked it out and
sure enough the crack was much more than a surface abrasion and
seemed to go into the pearl. I called the supplier and after
informing them of what had happened asked me to send the piece to
them and they would examine it to make sure what they were selling
was indeed the quality they were buying from their source in Japan
(that was at least where they are being cut). they sent the entire
piece to GIA and received word from GIA that the damage was no fault
of the pearl. My supplier sent the piece back to me intact. After
informing my client I offered to set another pearl, or another stone
into the ring at no cost to keep them happy. When I removed the
pearl from the bezel (which went smoothly) the nacre came off in the
form of a cap covering the nuclei. Pretty weird. Surprised, I
looked at the two pieces when I notices an unusual sheen to the
nuclei. It appeared to be something other than mother of pearl.
Since I had nothing to loose and my curiosity had got the best of me
I took a file to the nuclei and discovered that it was plastic with a
pearl like finish for what appeared to be for reflection. I once
more called my supplier and sent it down for a 2nd time. They
examined the pearl, or what appeared to be a pearl and confirmed that
it was indeed plastic. They called their source in Japan and was
told that it was plastic.

to make a very long story and investigation as short as I can I love
these things, but from this experience I can not put my name and
integrity behind something that is so undependable.

Be careful.

In the first group of pearls that came out from China in the big
sizes, I experienced a plastic nucleation, am always having my husband
saw them in half when they come in. Then I have seen tissue and
actual pearl nucleation. So, it is interesting to see what is next.
Because we handle large quanities of pearls, I can usually spot
something is up by heft.


Value is a matter of perspective. If I wear my "fine"
jeweler/gemologist optivisor and look at a strand of faceted pearls,
my lip curls a bit, suspicion and disdain creep into the base of my
brain. If, however, I put on my “fashion” jewelry production manager
optivisor, and I hold a strand of faceted pearls in one hand and a
quarterly summary of sales involving faceted pearls in the other, I
get a warm, receptive smile on my face. For beter or for worse,
fashion jewelry has to keep being fresh and new, twice a year.
Faceted pearls did their part this year.

If you haven’t seen faceted pearls before, here are a couple of

(1) “Gems & Gemology,” Summer 1997, Gem News Section… also available
online, with a photo of 3 faceted pearls… (If prompted, login as user
"guest" using the password “guest” - without the " marks.) Here’s the
quote from the G&G web page, for those who don’t visit: “The faceting
produces a very curious optical effect: All of the facets appear to be
distinctly convex. However, closer inspection with a microscope and
reflected light showed that the facets were indeed flat. The curved
effect is apparently produced by the flat facets cutting through the
numerous individual curved layers of nacre, bringing deep nacre layers
closer to the surface in the middle of the facets. In some cases,
remnants of the original surface can be seen between facets.”

(2) There’s some info on faceted pearls on page 287 of “Gems &
Gemology,” Winter 1998 (in the Gem Trade Lab Notes Section).

(3) As with most things gem related, there’s different kinds and
qualities. I personally don’t care for most of them, but a beautiful
13.5mm black Tahitian faceted pearl (in a ring) won 1st place in
division one in the 2001 AGTA Spectrum Awards competition. It was done
by Mark Schneider of Schneider Design Studio and you can see it at…

Want to see all the detail? For a super-zoomed-in (200K) version of
the photo that will fill your browser’s window, go to…

If you’re interested in seeing all of the AGTA Spectrum Award winners
for 2001, go to…

Best regards, as always - James Marker, GG
American Gem Trade Association