What is the difference between wild pearls (natural pearls)and non-nucleated cultured pearls? At the moment it is thousands of £ and an educated guess without 100% provenance.
Telling the difference between a pearl which has come about in a wild shell as against what could be called a keishi or simply a tissue nucleated pearl is sometimes impossible. But necessary because the true wild pearl – usually called a natural pearl in the trade – can be worth a huge amount of money.
It has been a problem since culturing began about 80 years or so ago.
The Gemological Institute of America and Australian South Sea pearl company Paspaley have worked to collect natural pearl samples from Paspaley’s wild Pinctada Maxima beds. Australia’s wild pearl oyster beds have been fished continuously since the mid-1800s
In 10 days aboard a Paspaley ship GIA researchers collected 776 natural pearls from 20,488 large wild oysters. Most were were small “seed” pearls, with the smallest measuring under 1mm ir, and the largest was 16mm.
The 776 swhite south sea wild pearls
Since these pearls have a clear provenance they can be used to establish benchmark criteria for future pearl assays and for now extensive research will be carried out using in-house high resolution real-time microradiography and micro CT imaging, as well as detailed chemical analyses and other tests.
The research will be published when completed.