Dear Art, Getting them X-rayed should not be too hard. Your personal
Physcian should have access and usually if you pay for the X-ray it
should not be a problem. Also any Veternarian or Dentist can do it.
In the X-ray you should be able to see if they look like a "M & M"
candy, that is a bead inside of a coating (nacre), which would mean
that they would be cultured. If not, then you have a natural pearl.
You must then determine if they are freshwater or saltwater. Usually
saltwater pearls tend to have a denser nacre and here you will need
If you truly have natural saltwater pearls on your hands, they are
very valuable, since no more natural saltwater pearls are being
harvested in quanities enough to produce pearls strands. In Bahrain,
they have resorted to restringing old strands (possibly like the one
you recovered) into more contemporary designs.
As to who could help you with the appraisal, I do not know where you
are, however you could contact the International Pearl Society and
possibly they could refer you to someone in your area.
Good luck and please post any info you uncover as I would be
interested in hearing more about your quest.