How can one check authenticity of a pearl in Hyderabad?

How can one check authenticity of a pearl in Hyderabad?

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  1. Hyderabad in India has been a pearl drilling site for generations. Business has boomed with the improved quality and quantity of fresh water pearls. They drill both salt water and fresh water pearls there so you have to learn first, if it’s a real pearl and second, the kind of pearl and third, it’s quality. The same rules apply in Hyderabad as anywhere else.
    Take a look at the hole drilled in a pearl that has been strung. Look for a thin layer over a bead used to create cultured pearls. There are nearly no natural (not cultured) pearls available for retail sale. But, even a natural pearl is the result of “nacre” being laid down over some irritant that got into the mollusk’s shell. Nacre is the same material a pearl making mollusk uses to produce its shell. A really good pearl willl have at least 1 to 2 mm of nacre.
    When you look at the pearl, if there is no layer, it is fake. If it is very thin, the pearl will not hold its beauty long as the nacre will rub off. There are now cultured fresh water, salt water, Tahitian, and South Sea Pearls.
    Salt water, or Akoya pearls are only found in sizes from 6 to 8 (maybe 9) mm. Because the salt water mollusk that produces these pearls is very small, it can only make one at a time, versus a fresh water mollusk that is often quite large and can produce many pearls in the same time period or less. They are also at less risk from the oceans natural storms, changes in temperature and so on. So, Akoya pearls are much more expensive than fresh water. As for Tahitian and South Sea pearls, you can check the thickness of the nacre the same way, by examining the hole drilled for stringing.
    I have run into some controversy with my instructors before about this, but if you put a bright pin light behind the pearl in a dark room, you should be able to see the bead in light colored pearls. In Akoya pearls, the bead appears greenish for some reason. In a fresh water pearl, the bead looks white.
    There are no “deals” when buying pearls. Majorca pearls are not pearls. They are imitations, good ones, but not real pearls. They are often sold at very high prices as they’ve been around since the 1890’s and tourists get hooked. A string of Mallorca, aka Majorca pearls is worth the price of the clasp plus a couple of dollars.
    An 18″ string of salt water cultured pearls is worth around $1500 depending on the quality of pearls ranked A to AAA depending on size, shape, orient (sparkly rainbowish-ness) and other factors including the depth of the nacre.
    The same in fresh water might be around $175 more or less, also depending on quality.
    Most people buy round or roundish shaped pearls. All others are called Baroque. Fresh water pears, even the best are never perfectly round. We call them potato shaped. It’s really hard to see, but it’s another way to tell fresh from salt water pearls. Although Akoya pearls, like Mikimoto pearls are more expensive, fresh water pearls can be quite beautiful and have thick nacre. (BTW, I think Mikimoto is also making fresh water pearls so in this case you will be paying more for a name that ensures quality.)
    Tahitian and South Sea pearls are in a class all their own. South Sea pearls are usually white or gold. Tahitian pearls are darker in shades like peacock or silver. Tahitian pearls are usually between 9 and 15 mm. South Seampearls are usually in the higher range, like 15mm. Although you can buy pearls online from some very reputable dealers, you can’t examine them yourself before buying but you’ll save a a lot of money. A brick and mortar store of high quality, like Tiffany’s or Macy’s will have nice pearls but the markup will greater. However, at a store you can examine them and the store’s reputation depends on maintaining its reputation. These pearls are handled differently and it is my understanding that the vast majority of pearls drilled in Hyderabad are Akoya or freshwater. Keep in mind, Hyderabad doesn’t culture pearls. It drills pearls sent to them from China and Japan. It might be possible to get a good price on nice pearls if you know what you are doing and what to look for.
    If a deal seems to good to be true for Akoya, Tahitian or South Sea pearls, it is. Tahitian and South Sea pearls are expensive ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands. Tahitian pearls are generally a bit cheaper than South Sea with individual pearls selling for about $400 a piece. Fresh water pearls vary widely in quality and price, but there are very high quality gems called Freshdama after the long used Handama used to describe fine salt water pearls. These pearls will always come with some sort of certification as to their quality. AAA freshwater pearls drilled in Hyderabad will be called round or Baroque. Baroque pearls can be very beautiful on their own right despite their exotic shape. They should be about $150 for an 18″ string. Saltwater will be about 8 to 10 times that.
    So if you are hitting garage or estate sales, check the nacre of the pearls. I’ve also heard tales of people finding a few natural pearls that somehow made their way onto a string of cultured pearls. So practice by looking at pearls at Walmart or Tiffany’s or the ones around your grandmother’s neck. You can check your friend’s, but if they turn out to be junk don’t say anything. Same goes for your friend who bought her $5000 string of Majorca pearls in Spain! Fake pearls are generally plastic and feel very light in the hand compared with real pearls. You can also rub tthe pearl on your teeth. A real pearl will feel like fine sandpaper compared to the smooth feel of a fake.
    So that, in a nutshell, that’s what to look for.


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