Saturday, February 6, 2010

Seminar: Pearls with Elisabeth Strack

From the AGTA listings:

Developments in the Chinese Pearl Industry
Elisabeth Strack, Gemmologisches Institut Hamburg (Mohave room)
Intermediate – Advanced. It is getting more and more difficult for jewelers to keep track of developments in the cultured pearl industry. Traditional producing countries like Japan are losing ground and newly producing countries like Vietnam are on the rise. In addition to producing Akoyas, China produces not only fresh water cultured pearls of all varieties, with and without a nucleus, with and without second and third harvests, but also tries its luck with South Sea cultured pearls. The traditional South Sea countries concentrate their efforts on quality but some producers undermine such efforts. It is getting increasingly more difficult, even for an expert, to distinguish the different types of pearls with the naked eye and evaluate them. Only a systematic approach will help. If eye-visible criteria are not enough, certain testing methods have to be applied which will be presented in this lecture. The lecture will also make reference to artificial coloration and treatments as they often add to the confusion of origin. Methods of detection will be presented.

AGTA offers some of the best in their field...and Elisabeth Strack quite literally wrote the book! The author of one of the most extensive tomes on the topic (the English translation came out in 2007). If you are interested in a copy they are available at the NAJA (National Association of Jewelry Appraisers) booth in the main walkway at the AGTA Show.

Her presentation includes a very exclusive look into the workings of a pearl farm - from dying and bleaching rooms to the actually harvesting.

...and I was introduced to a pearl - I had never heard of - the "souffle pearl"! So called due to the hollow center produced. It forms around a center made of mud - so when they are drilled and rinsed the center material drains out! Sweet - Seahunt has them on the AGTA Show Floor!

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