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Have you ever wondered if the beautiful pearl necklace your grandmother gave you is the real deal? How about that gorgeous strand of real pearls your boyfriend gifted you – could they be a fake? Read on to find out how to tell if your pearls are real.


One way to tell if pearls are real is to examine their surface. Like everything else Mother Nature creates, no two pearls are identical. Looking closely, you'll see small ridges on real pearls resembling fingerprints. These ridges give each pearl its unique character and make authentic pearls slightly rough to the touch. Therefore, if you can't feel the ridges on the surface of "real" pearls because they're completely smooth, they probably aren't real.


Authentic pearls have a radiant appearance and are more reflective. Test your pearls by holding them up to a light source and check to see if each pearl reflects light with an iridescent glow. If each pearl does, you're probably staring at a strand of real pearls. On the other hand, fake pearls have a glossy finish but aren't reflective.


Another way to tell if pearls are real is by checking for overtones (normal in real pearls) — the slight color visible on their outer surface when light hits them. As authentic pearls come from different mollusks and often from different places, the overtones on genuine pearls should differ. Typically, the overtone effect—challenging to replicate—is not present in faux pearls. 


Authentic pearls come in different shapes and sizes, unlike fake pearls (which are one uniform size). These different pearl shapes and sizes result because genuine pearls occur naturally, and anything that occurs in nature organically will show variations in form. We repeat, real pearls are not perfectly round.

In contrast, because of its exact manufacturing procedure, faux pearls have an excessively perfect round shape. Round pearls of the same size are typically artificial. Round pearls of varying sizes, however, may be genuine.


Another way to tell if pearls are real is with touch. Real pearls are cold to the touch. Regardless of the weather, they slowly warm up as you wear them. On the other hand, fake pearls are warm to the touch and don't change temperature. So if you're feeling a cold sensation when you wear your pearls, they're likely real.

However, this test is not 100% accurate and greatly depends on the faux pearls' composition.


Are real pearls heavy or light? Yes, one major difference between authentic pearls and fake pearls is their weight. Genuine pearls are solid and substantial, making them 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, it is probably an artificial stone. Faux pearls usually consist of plastic or another type of lighter material.


The bounce test is a great way to tell if you have a genuine pearl. Drop the loose 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 a genuine pearl, as the rebound height of fake pearls is much lower.


The next method for discovering the origin of your pearls is a little invasive, but it is 100% accurate. So try this trick, rub a genuine pearl against another authentic pearl. This rubbing action should feel gritty, not smooth, and produce a thin pearl powder.

If your pearls are fake, the rubbing will have no effect. The pearls won’t produce any powder, and you might even end up with a couple of scratched plastic pearls!


While the sound test is not the most reliable method for identifying real pearls, it can be an easy and quick way to get a general idea of their authenticity.

When you gently tap two genuine pearls together, they should produce a soft, subtle sound that is often described as a delicate "clinking" or "chiming." This is because real pearls are made up of layers of nacre, which produces a unique crystalline structure that allows them to vibrate against each other when tapped.

In contrast, when you tap two fake pearls together, they will produce a faint and hollow sound, often described as a "clunk" or "thud." This is because fake pearls are typically made of plastic or glass, which do not have the same crystalline structure as real pearls.

It is important to note that the sound test should not be the sole method for determining the authenticity of pearls, as some high-quality fake pearls may also produce a similar sound. Additionally, the sound can vary depending on the size and thickness of the pearls, as well as the surface they are being tapped on.


UV light is a great option if you're looking for a quick and easy way to test whether pearls are real.

Real pearls will display fluoresce under ultraviolet light, meaning they glow. Press a small UV flashlight over a pearl to see if it glows. If the pearl glows, it's likely a real pearl. An authentic pearl displays fluoresce under ultraviolet light because of the presence of natural organic compounds in its nacre.

On the other hand, fake pearls are typically made out of glass or plastic and don't contain these natural organic compounds. As a result, they won't display fluoresce under UV light. So, if you shine a UV light over an imitation pearl and it doesn't glow, it's likely a fake pearl.

UV light to test if pearls are real is that some fake pearls on the market contain materials that do display fluorescence under UV light. So, this method isn't foolproof.



The easiest way to check whether your pearls are real or fake is by using the magnet test. If you place a small magnet near a real pearl, attraction causes the real pearl to stick to it, while fake pearls will not show any sign of attraction to the magnet.


The price test can be a useful indicator of the authenticity of pearls, as genuine pearls are typically more expensive than faux pearls. This is because real pearls are relatively rare and require a complex and time-consuming process to form, while fake pearls can be mass-produced at a much lower cost.

When shopping for pearls, it is important to have a general idea of the average price range for the type of pearls you are interested in. High-quality pearls, such as Akoya, South Sea, or Tahitian pearls, will generally be more expensive than lower-quality freshwater pearls or faux pearls.

If you come across a great deal on a strand of real pearls that seem too good to be true, it may be a red flag that they are not genuine. However, it is important to note that sometimes authentic pearls may be sold at a discount due to various factors such as overstock, clearance, or a sale.


Typically, authentic pearls connect along a silk or nylon thread. If you're examining a strand of "real" pearls and the string is made from cotton, they are most likely not authentic pearls. Cotton strings are most common when stringing faux pearls.

Genuine pearls are usually connected via a silk or nylon thread because these materials are much stronger and don't damage the pearls' delicate structure. In contrast, cotton strings are never used on authentic pearls because they wear away the pearls' outer coating, resulting in a worn and dull appearance.


A strand of real pearls usually features a knot between each pearl. These knots keep authentic pearls from rubbing against one another (leading to scratches) and protect your pearls if the strand snaps. Knots also add to the strength of the thread, so when you examine a pearl strand for authenticity, be sure to check for knots.

Beware, as some high-end fake pearl strands contain knots between each pearl to pass as authentic. So this test by itself is not definite proof. If you suspect the strand is fake, use this test in combination with a few of the other tests to be certain.


The easiest way to tell if a pearl is real is to inspect it using a microscope, which allows you to inspect its surface under 10x magnification. Under a microscope, a real pearl appears scaly, while fake pearls frequently have a grainy texture.


Inspecting the drill hole of a pearl is another way to determine its authenticity. Real pearls are typically drilled with great care and precision to preserve their natural shape and luster, and the size and appearance of the drill hole can be a helpful indicator of the pearl's authenticity.

One way to inspect the drill hole of a pearl is to use a magnifying glass or a jeweler's loupe. When you examine a genuine pearl under magnification, you may notice a ring or "halo" around the drill hole, which is caused by the nacre layer of the pearl wrapping around the hole. This is a distinctive feature of authentic pearls, as fake pearls often lack this halo effect.

In addition to the halo effect, you may also notice that the drill hole in a real pearl is typically smaller and more precise than that of a fake pearl. This is because real pearls are delicate and can be easily damaged during the drilling process, so they require careful handling and drilling techniques to ensure that the hole is as small and unobtrusive as possible.

On the other hand, fake pearls are often mass-produced and drilled with less precision, resulting in larger and less uniform drill holes. Therefore, if you notice that the drill hole of a pearl is large, uneven, or lacking a halo effect, it may be an indication that the pearl is not genuine.


The nail polish remover test is a popular and simple method to determine the authenticity of pearls. It involves applying a small amount of acetone-based nail polish remover to a cotton ball and rubbing it gently against the surface of the pearl.

Real pearls are made of organic material, such as calcium carbonate, which is relatively resistant to acetone-based solvents. Therefore, when you rub a real pearl with nail polish remover, it should not lose its luster or become damaged. However, the same cannot be said for fake pearls, which are often made of plastic or glass and can be easily damaged by the acetone-based solvent.

When you rub an imitation pearl with nail polish remover, the surface of the pearl may become cloudy, or the luster may disappear altogether within a minute or two of applying the solvent. This is because the acetone-based solvent breaks down the coating on the surface of the fake pearl, which causes it to lose its luster and become dull.



When you burn a real pearl mildly, the pearl remains shiny, intact, and produces no odor. An authentic pearl produces a pop sound if the flame is consistent for about 2 minutes. In contrast, when a fake pearl comes into contact with an open flame, it emits a foul stench and loses its shine.



If you're unsure if your pearls are real, you can always test them by biting them. Real pearls should be quite hard, while fake ones will usually be much softer. So, go ahead and give it a try - just make sure you don't bite too hard, or you might end up with a mouthful of powder!

Gently place the pearl between your teeth and see if it feels gritty. If it does, you're most likely dealing with a natural pearl. fake pearls usually consist of glass or plastic, which feel smooth when you bite them.


The black light test is especially useful if your pearl is undrilled. Under a black light, faux pearls will typically have a milky, bluish-white hue and uniformity in color. Under a black light, authentic pearls in a strand will have different color intensities from pearl to pearl and generally appear tan or yellowish.


If you're still unsure if the pearls in your possession are authentic, send them to a professional jeweler for examination. They can easily assist you in authenticating your pearls and provide you with a straightforward assessment of whether or not they are organic pearls.


In the end, if you want to be sure that a pearl is real, you’ll need to take it to an expert for authentication. But luckily, before going through these steps, there are plenty of ways to tell if something looks fishy about your pearls - from taking a closer look at their surfaces and imperfections to testing their weight and resilience. So don’t worry; you won’t be stuck with a fake pearl if you know what to look out for!