Pearl Nuclei: The Heart of the Matter

Author and pearl authority Fred Ward would like to make it known that—despite what has been attributed to him in other publications—he actually believes that it makes little difference what Chinese pearl producers use as solid nuclei. "The first issue is whether a Chinese pearl is natural or cultured," says Ward. "If it's cultured, there's probably a benefit to owning a tissue-nucleated pearl that will last for decades. If it's cultured with a solid nucleus (shell or pearl), it's probably worth less than a tissue-nucleated pearl and certainly less than a natural. Other than that, it really shouldn't matter how the Chinese are making their pearls. Who really cares if they're using shell beads, old pearls, wax, or composites?" The issue was addressed in the Summer 2000 issue of Gems & Gemology, the quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America. In "Characteristics of

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