Natural pearls are some of the oldest gems collected by mankind. Natural pearls continue today to be desired objects at auction. SSEF has tested many of the world’s most iconic natural pearls in recent years. Our expertise in pearl testing rests on continuous research and expeditions to natural pearl sources and cultured pearl farms worldwide.

We test different types of pearls objects

  • Single or multiple loose pearls
  • Pearls mounted in jewellery
  • Pearl necklaces

We distinguish between natural and cultured pearls, freshwater or saltwater pearls, possible treatments on a pearl and whether a pearl has been worked or not. SSEF does not comment on the species from which a pearl may have come from. Since 2017, we offer radiocarbon age dating of pearls as a service to clients (click here for more information).

Explore our research library

René Lalique (1860-1945) was one of the most ingenious and creative designers of jewellery and glass objects at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. He significantly contributed to the Art Nouveau and Art Déco periods.

An antique-style bracelet with diamonds and pearls was recently submitted to SSEF for testing (Figure 1). Despite the complex setting, we were able to analyse all the pearls and found, that five of the pearls in this bracelet were in fact beaded cultured pearls (Akoya type), whereas the remaining 26

The body colour of pearls is normally related to the presence of natural colour pigments produced by the mollusc during pearl formation. Another option is to colour pearls artificially, with dyeing being the most readily available method. Often applied to rather low-quality freshwater cultured pearl

We recently tested a pearl jewellery set that consisted of 63 natural pearls, with 61 of them being strung on a thread and two additional loose natural pearls. To our knowledge, this is the first time that pearls from Pinctada persica have been reported.

First published in Facette 26 (May 2020) As a foremost authority in the testing of natural pearls, the SSEF has had the chance in the past few decades to see and analyse the most unique and outstanding natural pearls in the market, many of them of historic provenance, such as the Peregrina

Testing pearl necklaces can be rather painstaking work, as at least two gemmologists at SSEF meticulously and individually check a necklace pearl by pearl, with the aim of finding one (or more) cultured pearl(s) possibly hidden somewhere in the strand. Countless natural pearl necklaces tested at SSE

first published in Facette 21 (February 2014) In 2013, SSEF received a lot of beautiful small so-called Pipi- pearls from the Pacific. These natural pearls are generally rather small, up to about 8 mm in diameter. This is not astonishing as they are formed within the rather small shell of the P

In February 2016 Dr. Laurent Cartier had the opportunity of visiting Jewelmer pearl farms near Palawan Island in the Philippines and observing the different culturing techniques required to harvest golden South Sea pearls.