Many retailers find Pearls to be a minefield. Peter Veselsky from Noriko Pearls offers some hints and tips that may be useful….

Expertise in pearls is relatively rare in the retail Irish jewellery trade for several reasons.
Firstly as with diamonds there is an infinite variety and no easily recognised grade.
Knowledge of pearls can only be built up through experience and comparing different
qualities of pearls, and therefore having a large selection of pearls at ones disposal for this
purpose is essential. I have no doubt that if pearls sold as well as diamonds there would be
much more incentive to learn about them.

As the general public know little about pearls apart from what they read on line, they rely on
the jewellers to explain. As with diamonds (colour and clarity) the public will also grasp at the
easiest description available. The pearls for sale on line are often described as AA or AAA or
even more A's and these mean nothing apart from separating the different qualities within that
vendors stock.

There is a Certification process carried out by very respectable organisations
but the cost is high and would be out of proportion to the vast majority of pearls sold in Ireland.
Identification is another problem experienced by retailers. There are some clues that are very
useful when attempting to determine if a pearl is Freshwater or Akoya. For valuation purposes
this is essential as there will be a huge difference in value

When a strand of pearls is stretched out on a flat surface and rolled, even very round freshwater
pearls can be identified as they are never as spherical as Akoyas.
Akoyas may have some tiny marks (like dust in paintwork) but freshwater pearls are generally
very smooth with only very occasional pitting.

Freshwater pearls naturally occur in a variety of colours (seldom white) and they are bleached
to produce white pearls.
Akoya pearls are naturally white or near white and are graded by colour shading and have been

Furthermore Akoya pearls depending on quality will have a certain amount of colour
variation throughout the strand. Cultured freshwater pearls are uniformly white or slightly off
white as they have been bleached in bulk.
Natural pearls

They are very rare and invariably old and of poor quality. Good quality natural pearls are
very expensive, possibly fetching six figure sums for a string.
Although pearls have been cultured since early in the twentieth century it has to assumed
that pearls older than 50/60 years could be natural and could be worth investigating.
Recently a retail jeweller identified a large natural pearl which had been in his stock for some
twenty years or so. This was a pearl measuring over 12mm in size and could have only been
a South Sea pearl or a natural pearl as freshwater did not exist in this size at the time.
He removed it from the ring it had been in and had it x-rayed by a local dentist
Because of its internal uniformity he thought it highly likely to be natural
He sent it to Switzerland for testing and they confirmed it was natural. It was auctioned
in London last year and sold for £28,000.

Thank you to Peter for his contribution. For enquiries contact :

Noriko Ireland
Central Hotel Chambers
4th Floor Dame Court
Dublin 2
(01) 677 2789