THE UK’S PREMIER INDEPENDENT VALUATION SERVICE

AnchorCert’s expertise was put to the test recently when gemmologists were presented with a batch of ‘freshwater cultured pearls’ for verification. Natural pearls are now extremely rare and freshwater cultured pearls have become a popular alternative. Freshwater cultured pearls are produced by inserting a tiny piece of tissue into the mantle of a living mollusc. This stimulates the natural growth of a “cultured pearl” formed from crystalline calcium carbonate, just like a natural pearl.  Imitation pearls are entirely artificial, being manufactured by spraying on or dipping a large bead in a ‘pearlescent’ liquid.

A cultured pearl sells for significantly less than a natural pearl but significantly more than an imitation pearl, so correct identification is very important. The initial visual inspection prompted AnchorCert gemmologists to suspect that the batch contained two types of pearls, most of which were in fact imitation. Freshwater cultured pearls would normally demonstrate variation in size, shape, colour and texture but many of these were of uniform size and appearance.  In order to be absolutely certain AnchorCert undertook a rigorous series of tests, using several pieces of hi tech equipment to verify if any of the beads submitted were cultured freshwater pearls.

A selection was photographed by X-Ray and it could clearly be seen that those with uniform appearance had a large bead under the outer-coating. Scraping revealed two coatings neither of which was of a natural crystalline structure, with a bead at the centre. Further analysis was carried out using the Raman Spectrophotometer, X Ray Fluorescence and the electron spectrometer.  This revealed more significant differences between the formation of two distinct types of pearls, proving conclusively that the majority of the pearls were entirely man made imitations and only a very small percentage could be described as “freshwater cultured pearls”. AnchorCert Operations Director Carla Goodfellow said “This job once again demonstrated the importance of having all the right equipment. Our gemmologists’ experience and instinct led them to the right conclusion almost immediately but it was the sophisticated technology that provided the emphatic technical evidence that our customer was looking for.”    For more information on AnchorCert Pearl Identification Reports come and talk to us on Stand M30H.

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