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25 February 2024

PRC-GIA tie-up to standardise pearl testing certification

Pearls will be displayed at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. (EB FILE)

By Reena Amos Dyes
The Pearl Revival Committee, (PRC), which is doing its bit to re-establish the UAE as a major natural pearl trading destination, has now partnered with the GIA to unify procedures of pearl testing certification.

Talking to Emirates Business about the importance of buying certified pearls Thomas Moses, Vice-President for GIA Laboratory and Research, said: “The difference in the value of a natural pearl and a cultured pearl of the same size can be as much as 10 times. For example, if a cultured pearl of a certain size and weight will cost $500 (Dh1,836), a natural pearl of the same size, weight and colour will cost $5000. This is because, a major part of the nucleus of a cultural pearl constitutes a bead around which the pearl coating has been formed.

“More often than not people don’t know the difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl as this is something that only experts can tell through the use of  sophisticated machines.

Many a times family heirlooms are passed on for generations before someone finds out that the pearls are not natural but cultured. So people should ensure that they buy their pearls from a reliable source. However, the best bet for them would be to buy pearls that have been certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Khaled Al Sayegh, Chairman of PRC, said: “We will be working with the GIA to unify procedures of pearl testing certification. The GIA will issue certificates that authenticate pearls, differentiating natural from synthetic. This is an important step in safeguarding the integrity of the pearl trade in the UAE as it will help to protect the interests of people wishing to buy pearls.”

The PRC has tied up with Tahitian businessman Robert Wan, who is known as the “emperor of pearls”, to bring some of the best collections of natural pearls to the year-long Natural Pearl Display at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. The display will showcase 10,000 natural pearls from around the world. Some of the pearls on show are from the collection of world-famous pearl collector, historian and consultant for buyers of rare and costly pearls KC Bell.

His pearls and collection of natural pearls have been displayed at the GIA symposium in 1999 and 2006. 

However, the highlight of the display will be one of the largest natural pearls in the world named after Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.

The huge pearl is a natural salt-water nacreous baroque pearl, four inches in length, with a circumference of 6 inches and weighs 856.58 carats. The pearl is twice as large as the Hope pearl, which is displayed at the British Museum of Natural History, and 11 carats heavier than the Burma pearl.

It has been incorporated into the design of a sculptural jewel of a Centaur, a Greek mythological creature that was believed to be half man and half horse. It forms the torso of the Centaur.