Cultured pearls in a bracelet of historic design

by Dr. M.S. Krzemnicki, first published in Facette 27 (June 2021)

Figure 1: The bracelet in question. Photo: M. Bichsel, SSEF.

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 were saltwater natural pearls (Figure 2).

Apart from gemmological testing, we are in such cases always curious to determine as far as possible the authenticity of such items that have a ‘historic look’ In the case of the above-described bracelet, detailed microscopic investigation of the setting revealed that the cultured pearls were glued into the setting and not fitting the pre-existing bezel settings. We assume that the cultured pearls were introduced into the bracelet during a jewellery repair as replacements for presumably lost or damaged natural pearls. In addition, the diamonds (old cut) in the bracelet showed well-preserved facet edges and nearly no wear marks, both not to be expected in any jewellery of real historic provenance.

Figure 2: X-ray radiographies of a beaded cultured pearl and a natural pearl from the described bracelet. Photo: SSEF.

We thus assume that the described bracelet with five beaded cultured pearls is much younger and was only designed to look ‘antique’.

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