How To Tell Real Pearls from Fake Pearls

There are many pearls in the market today. Before buying one, you need to know how to check if the pearls are real or not to make sure your money will not be of waste. Here is how you can tell real pearls from fake pearls.

  • Visual cues. Compared to real pearls, fake ones will tend to appear “flatter” or more dull. However, this has exceptions such as those made by Swarovski or other manufacturers/ Real pearls are not perfectly round and tend to get warmer faster on the skin compared to glass pearls. Real pearls have bands in the nacre, ridges, bumps or pits. A real pearl may also have concentric ridged circles around it.
  • Hole characteristics. Real pearls have a tendency to get drilled from the both sides for it to meet up in its center. If you can see a cross-section of a pearl, the hole can appear wider at the edge than at its center. Holes of the real pearls are as small as they can be. However, hoe the more inexpensive real pearl, the holes may not be completely straight thus the lower price.
  • Density. Real pearls are heavier than what they look like. However, good imitations may have the same density as real pearls. Density alone is not a good basis for the authenticity of pearls.
  • Tooth test. Rub the surface of a pearl over your teeth. A real pearl would feel gritty while a fake one will feel smooth. This test is good for distinguishing the rare natural pearls from the glass pearls, but not that good in identifying the cultured pearls.
  • Sun test. Take your pearl out and place it into the sun. Unless your pearls are the very expensive one, it should not match the sun perfectly. You should see variations in the color and iridescence of the pearl. If a pearl matches the color and the overtones perfectly, it is fake.
  • X-ray. An x-ray can show you the inside of a pearl. This includes the variations in density, the presence of a parasite and if present, the shapes of the drill holes. You may have to pay to get this done though.
  • Magnification. Like in diamonds, magnification can reveal a lot about the quality of pearls. Real pearls have characteristic irregularities and ridges while the fake pearls are grainy smooth. You can inspect the drill holes for you to spot the interface between nacres and whatever that may lay beneath it. You can also read or see any writing or marks written on the setting or clasp.
  • Destructive tests. If you are really serious to know if your pearl is real or not, you may cut it open to see its true nature. Natural or real pearls are made of layers of nacre. A cultured pearl would have a shell core that is covered with thin layers of nacre, which is normally not more than half of a millimeter. A fake pearl would have a core with a layer or more of coating on it that tends to flake upon cutting.

Scrutinizing a pearl to determine if it is real or not is worth it if you distinguished a fake from a real one. Take time to do tests and to examine the pearls before you buy one especially if you are buying from a stranger or an unreliable source.


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