In 2017, SSEF became the first gem laboratory worldwide to introduce, as an additional service to clients, age dating of pearls using carbon-14 (14C). This scientific method can provide the pearl industry with new valuable information about the age of loose pearls and pearls in jewellery.
Age determination can support evidence of historic provenance in the case of antique jewellery and iconic natural pearls. It can also be used to identify fraud in cases where, for example, younger pearls are mounted in historical jewellery items, or have been treated so that they appear older than having been farmed during the 20th century. 14C age dating can be used to obtain evidence to support a decision whether a pearl is of natural or cultured formation. This is because methods to commercially cultivate pearls from certain mollusc species began only during the 20th century. The oldest natural pearls examined using this method by SSEF were recovered in the famous Cirebon shipwreck off Java in Indonesia and were dated back to the turn of the first millennium (11th century).
For more information about this method also see this presentation (PDF).
Contact us for more information about this service.