The Gemological Institute of America received an “unprecedented opportunity” to advance its research into differentiating certain nacreous saltwater non-bead cultured pearls from natural pearls, it announced recently.
For a long time, the GIA said, obtaining a sample base of natural pearls has been daunting, given their rarity. However, in the last few months, GIA researchers were able to discover and extract 776 natural pearls from 20,488 large wild oysters, after spending 10 days in Australia aboard a diving ship owned by the Paspaley Pearling Company.
These 776 natural pearls, along with their shells, now reside in GIA’s laboratory in Bangkok. In the coming months, the GIA will conduct in-depth research on them, using in-house high-resolution real-time microradiography, micro CT imaging, and detailed chemical analyses.
“Resolving the issues involved in differentiating natural from saltwater non-bead cultured pearls has been a focus of GIA’s research group for some time,” said Ken Scarratt, GIA managing director for Southeast Asia, in a statement.