Australian south sea pearls

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Tracing cultured pearls from farm to consumer

31 December 2013

This article reviews various methods that could be used to determine the geographic origin of cultured pearls, potentially allowing a consumer to trace them back to the farm. Chemical marking using different substances is possible due to the porosity of the nucleus and nacre. It is also possible to affix a logo marker to the nucleus that can later be imaged using X-radiography. In addition, radio-frequency identifi cation chips are today so small that they can be housed within the nucleus of a cultured pearl. Also discussed is the potential of using trace-element chemistry to differentiate mollusc species and pearling regions. Carbon and oxygen isotopes could also be useful given that they reflect the waters in which a cultured pearl grew, and DNA testing may offer options in the future.
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