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Thin nacre is not as easily detected in South Sea pearls as it is in Akoya pearls. Because of the thicker nacre, the shell layers of the bead do not show up as well and it's harder to see the bead nucleus through the drill hole.
In addition, the pearls are often mounted in jewelry so the drill holes aren't visible. Experienced dealers can often detect thin nacre by evaluating the quality of the luster. Thin nacre pearls may have a shiny surface, but they won't have a deep lustrous glow. To avoid buying South Sea pearls with nacre that's too thin, you should select pearls with a good luster and deal with jewelers who consider nacre thickness important. It's also a good idea to have the pearls x-rayed by a gem lab when the price of the pearls is high enough to warrant the cost of an x-ray report, which is about $100 to $300. The nacre thickness can be measured in the x-ray photograph. Like all other pearls, those from the South Seas come in a wide range of qualities and prices. Some sell for over $20,000 and some sell for $100. The price factors above are what determine the value. For example, just take a $20,000 dollar South Sea pearl, make it smaller, add lots of flaws, give it a baroque shape, color it yellow, and give it a dull, drab luster. What can be the result?
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