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Pearl x-ray identification

I have a customer convinced that her pearls are natural. I was going
to send to GIA to have x-ray made to evaluate, but customer had her
dentist do it overnight. Can any tell me if a dental x ray will
suffice in order to tell if pearls are natural or cultured? If yes,
any info on evaluating them would be appreciated. Thomas blair
Island Gold Works

Based on what I know, you should be able to see a grain difference
between the nucleus and the nacre if it’s cultured. But it may depend
on how detailed the x-ray is.


JoAnna Kelleher, co-owner
Pearl Exotics Trading Company, LLC

Thomas Blair, ��� I recently was speaking with a GIA-G.G. here in
Colorado Springs, and he was telling me about a strand he was going to
send to GIA for analysis (quite pricey, for it was a strand with 100
pearls) and his customer had a friend at a dentist’s office x-ray it
instead of paying what really was an exorbitant fee. Low and behold,
the strand� showed no signs of having any nucleus. “Natural?” Not
necessarily! I was originally a veterinary assistant and registered
medical technician before finding my true love in jewelry. You see, an
x-ray is only as diagnostic as the operator of the machine is able to
control the parameters of the machine to produce the results desired.
Different strengths of x-ray have varying penetration powers and if
the machine� is set with power enough to penetrate the skin, tooth,
and jaw of the subject; it will have too much power to accurately show
the difference between nacre and nucleus in a pearl…much
experimentation is necessary to come up with the machine’s parameters
for different diameters of pearl; comparing known natural and known
cultured pearls as test subjects. It can be done; but with the large
difference in value of the two(cultured vs. natural) it is much better
to let the experts who have the technique figured out do the job (and
thus take the responibility for any inaccuracies). ��� Just some
educated thoughts on the matter;

Paul D. Reilly

Thomas, I have done the same thing and was later told that a dental
x-ray machine created the wrong "absorption "I believe that when they
are x-rayed at GIA they are emersed in some thing or the xray machine
is different.In the x-rays my dentist tookI was looking for the seed
or a core to indicate they were cultured ,or lack of seed to indicate
they were natural.They were supposedly very old.We did not see a seed
which would indicate they were natural but then I heard that they have
to be x-ray at GIA to get a true result.and my customer was paranoid
to send them to GIA you know they have that terrible reputation.If you
are just trying to find out if they are cultured or junk I use that
old HIGHLY scientific tooth test.Rub the pearl on your tooth if it
slips off it is junk(or you need to brush)If it feels chalky on your
tooth when you rub it is a poyal and you still need to brush! J Morley
Coyote Ridge

Also, on freshwater cultured, they can look like “natural” because of
the nucleation.


It should be pointed out that the “tooth test” for pearls will only
separate natural or cultured pearls from imitations but not from each
other as you have indicated.

Jerry in Kodiak

You said: “you know they have that terrible reputation” Re: the
G.I.A. What exactly did you mean? I am a Graduate Gemologist (have
been for 29 years) and have used their Laboratory services MANY times.
I don’t always AGREE with their grading 100%, but “terrible
reputation??” I REALLY would like to know what specifically you meant.
I am not an apologist for G.I.A., but perhaps there is something I
and other Orchidians should know thanks, David Barzilay, the Lord of
the Rings.

p.s. your tip about the tried-and-true “tooth test” is absolutely
correct regarding the separation of versus , but it doesn’t do anything to separate natural from

David, It was cynical humor regarding the fact that my customer did
not trust the most trustable.Funny ha ha.P.S.Hate to defend triviality
but I don’t believe I mentioned using the TOOTH test to separate
natural from cultured. Regards J Morley Coyote ridge

Jerry and Norma, My post read "If you are just trying to find out if
they are cultured or junk…"Cultured meaning cultured pearls ,Junk
meaning grandma’s imitation plastic or glass coated beads.I never
mentioned the tooth test for differentiating between natural and
cultered thats what the x-ray part of my post was about.
Thanks J Morley Coyote ridge Studio