How to Distinguish a Black Pearl from a Dyed Pearl
It was the Japanese who introduced the dyed pearl to the international market. Some yellow or whitish pearls, having little value even though they are natural cultured pearls, are treated with silver nitrate or cobalt. The dye penetrates the layers of carbonate and the organic matter. This technique allows modifying the color of the pearl and thus improving its appearance and market value.
The dyed pearl is uniform and dull; it does not have the beautiful rainbow reflections of the black pearl. It resembles a bit the hematite balls. For a trained eye, no confusion is possible. However, at the level of the grey pearl, imitation sometimes reaches perfection, and one must be extra vigilant.
The importation of dyed pearls is prohibited in Polynesia, any purchase of a black pearl is thereby guaranteed. It is not the same in international markets. While the well-informed Japanese clientele is rarely mistaken, the European and American clientele must take precautions. They must request that it be specified on the invoice if the pearl is dyed. Thus, "Sold: a dyed black cultured pearl."
Polynesia is starting to request protection so that dyed pearls are designated in the display.
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