Kunz's Thoughts on Polishing Pearls
Polishing pearls according to pearl expert, George Kunz, in his 1908 pearl publication.
Frequently, when a small knob or protuberance appears in the pearl, or when it has adhered to another pearl or to the shell itself, this protuberance is polished off, and the pearl is drilled at this point. This portion of the surface, however carefully polished, will never have the true orient, but it is placed in the necklace in such a way that it is completely hidden. Often pearls become scratched through rough usage, or by the knife used in opening the shells. These are occasionally polished by means of pearl-powder, or else the entire outer layer is removed, the new skin beneath appearing absolutely bright and perfect. It sometimes happens that a pearl will have a good luster, but a slightly roughened skin. This is at times polished down; but an experienced eye easily detects that it has been tampered with.
Read what Kunz & Stevenson have to say about peeling pearls.
Learn more about pearls after reading polishing pearls.
Here in Muscatine, Iowa, which is right on the Mississippi River, lots of people have natural pearls and they commonly talk about their parents "peeling" or "working" an imperfect pearl to make it look more uniform and perfect.