Pearls are beautiful. There are faux (fake) pearls that look stunning and natural pearls that look... well... less so. So why care whether you can tell real and fake apart?
It is important to recognize real pearls if you are buying them because precious gems are a good investment. High-quality pearls cost considerably more than those made of glass or plastic. The best way to know how to tell if lustrous pearls are real is by becoming familiar with the characteristics of a natural pearl.
- CHECK FOR IMPERFECTIONS
The first feature that distinguishes real pearls from fake pearls is their surface. Just like anything else created by Mother Nature, no two pearls are the same. Real pearls have small, fingerprint-like ridges on their surface. These ridges give each pearl a personality and bristly feel.
- HOLD IT UP TO THE LIGHT
Authentic pearls are more reflective and seem to glow. Try this pearl test, hold your pearl necklace up to a source of light and check to see if each individual pearl reflects light giving it an iridescent glow. In contrast, synthetic pearls are not reflective although they are shiny.
- CHECK FOR OVERTONES
The dazzling pearls are often prized for their overtones — the slight color that is visible on their outer surface when light hits them. Normally, fake pearls would not have this overtone effect, which is difficult to reproduce.
- SIMILARITY IN SIZE AND SHAPE
Natural pearls come in different shapes and sizes, unlike man-made pearls that usually come in one uniform size. This is because genuine pearls occur naturally and anything that occurs naturally in nature will have a slight variation. I repeat, natural pearls are not perfectly round.
- CHECK THE STRAND
Check your dazzling pearls on a strand for a general theme. They should all broadly match in terms of color, luster and roundness.
Although this is a less important and reliable factor than the others, the drill holes on your pearls will ideally be properly centered. If the drill is off-center then pearls will roll differently on the strand.
- TEMPERATURE TEST
It's not just about looks, you can tell the difference between a real and synthetic pearl with touch. Bona fide pearls are cold to the touch. Regardless of the weather, they slowly warm up as worn.
- IT'S ALL IN THE WEIGHT
One major difference between legitimate pearls and fake pearls is their weight. Legitimate pearls are solid and substantial making them a bit heavier than their faux counterparts. Try this pearl test, hold a loose pearl in your hand and feel its weight. If a loose pearl is light in proportion to its size then it is mostly likely man-made. Probably made from materials such as resin, plastic or ceramic.
- BOUNCE IT
The bounce test is a great way to tell if a pearl is genuine. Drop the pearl from 2 feet high on glass, then observe the height of the rebound. If the pearl bounces back higher than 1 foot, it is most likely genuine, as the rebound height of fake pearls is much lower.
- RUB TEST
The next method of trying to discover the origin of your pearls is a little invasive, but it is 100% accurate. Try this trick, rub a genuine pearl against another bona fide pearl. This should result in the creation of a thin pearl powder.
Another easy way to test out your pearls is by listening to them! Knock two genuine pearls against each other and you should hear a soft and unique sound.
Both real and imitation pearls are beautiful but it's important to know which type you have. It always makes sense to shop smartly and check your pearls carefully prior to buying. We hope you have enjoyed our quick tricks to finding out if your lustrous pearls are authentic or not.