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Some Fossil Pearls Don't look like Modern Pearls
by: Anonymous

Hi Rhonda
thanks for writing in with the question about the fossil pearl you found in the back yard.

Rhonda, first up, I wouldn't touch this pearl until examined by an expert. Characteristics in fossil pearls are not the same as in modern pearls. In considering the current catastrophic oil "spill" in the gulf of mexico and the destruction of the fragile marine ecosystems pearls in the earth, if we don't wake up, and stop drilling, may not be as uncommon as pearls from the sea. AGTA and GIA can test to determine if they are natural pearls.

Let's begin by defining exactly what is meant by a "fossil pearl".

The American Museum of Natural History's web site defines fossil pearls as:

The Oldest known fossil pearls date from 230-210 million years ago, although mollusks have undoubtedly been producing pearls since they first appeared about 530 million years ago. Always rare, fossil pearls are almost always associated with marine bivalves, although ancient freshwater mollusks also produced pearls. During a pearl's fossilization, the aragonite (the mineral that makes up most of the pearl) is replaced by calcite or another mineral, but in cross-section the fossil pearls show the same concentric layers in as in modern pearls. Occasionally the original aragonite is preserved with its nacreous luster.

Concentric layers like you see in modern pearls is therefore a definitive clue.

The collection of fossil pearls in the Heuckeroth fossil pearl collection, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Lorna and her husband are husband and wife fossil shell hunters from Florida. Some of the single pearls in their collection come from the Pliocene era and some still have their nacre.

K. C. Bell also has a fine fossil pearl collection. Some of specimens in the collection show another facet to this relatively unknown and rare type of pearl. Many of the fossil pearls, don't look anything like pearls we see today, so the usual criteria for judging these types of pearls should be integrated with scientific and archeological validation.

More information about fossil pearls by contacting fossil pearl expert:

K. C. at KCB Natural Pearls / 1530 48th Avenue / San Francisco CA.
E-mail: kcnaturalpearlsATcsDOTcom

the photos are some of the pearls in K.C. Bell's Fossil Collection

best wishes

Yvonne Hammouda-Eyre
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