Atypical “Beading” in the Production of Cultured Pearls from Australian Pinctada maxima

In 2011, the authors began to see cases of low-quality natural pearls being used as unconventional “beads” for cultured nacre growth. These natural pearls had been inserted into the gonads of Pinctada maxima along with a piece of donor mantle tissue, or in some cases into the cultured pearl sacs created by initial or subsequent operations, to facilitate the growth of cultured nacre on to their surfaces.

To better understand this deceptive “beading” process, the authors conducted a total of 91 experiments on Australian Pinctada maxima. In 75 of the experiments, atypical “beads” (including natural abalone, scallop, Pteria sterna, Pinna, drilled coral, and faceted sapphire) were inserted. The other 16 tests consisted of irritating, folding, or inserting tissue into the mantle.

Read entire GIA article here.

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