How to tell if pearls are real - 7 quick and easy tips

Jewelry from pearls look gorgeous and attract women. Knowing this, many dishonest sellers take advantage of this and want to make more profit by faking the pearls. Unluckily, the imitated and genuine pearls look so similar to normal consumers. How annoying to spend a lot of money and buy the fake ones. Luckily there are many tricks for consumers to easily recognize if the pearls are genuine, but first let's get into how the genuine pearls are formed.

Tip number 1: Look for small imperfections

As mentioned above, real pearls are rarely perfect. Usually they have small flaws or imperfections in their shape. Their outer nacre layers may also reflect light differently. Artificial pearls are almost always too perfect - they are perfectly spherical, have the same luster on every part of their surface, and show no flaws or impurities.

Even if perfectly round real pearls are rare but it is possible that a necklace will never be made from just this type of pearl. A necklace made of pearls, all of which seem perfectly smooth and round, is almost certainly a fake.

Fake pearls

Picture 1. Fake pearls usually have perfectly round form

Picture source: Etsy

Tip number 2: Examine the overtone

If you are interested in pearls and have ever owned many pearl jewelry sets, you will have experience looking at pearl colors. Pearls are made from nacre, a substance found in a pearl shell that is soft, shiny and durable. Furthermore, pearls also reflect rainbow-like colors when direct light shines on them. In this regard, imitation pearls are difficult to obtain, so you can rely on this point to distinguish between real and fake pearls.

One problem with this test is that low-quality pearls (which generally have a dull, "chalky" luster) often look very similar to fake pearls. Confirm your results with some of other tests in this article.Real pearls and fake pearls comparison

Picture 2. Real pearls on the left side and fake pearls on the right side

Picture source:

Tip number 3: Look for clues around the drill hole

Beads on a thread or chain are usually drilled so that the string can pass through. If you look closely at these holes, you can get clues whether your pearls are real or fake. These are the things to look for:

  • Clear edges on the surface of the hole. Real pearls usually have drill holes with sharp edges (like a hollow cylinder). Fake pearls have rough or rounded edges. Fake pearls may also curve outward a little on the surface of the pearl, rather than being perfectly cylindrical.
  • Chipped paint or coating around the hole. Since the fake pearls rub against each other with repeated use, their artificial coating can chip off around the hole. You may be able to see bits of glass or plastic underneath. That is a sure sign of a fake.

Tip number 4: Rub the pearls against your front teeth

Hold a pearl or two between your thumb and forefinger and use them to gently press against the biting edges of your front teeth. Rub them along your teeth in a sideways motion. A real pearl usually has a slightly rough or grainy texture due to tiny bumps on the outer layers of the nacre. Fake beads made of glass or plastic are mostly almost perfectly smooth.

One small tip: you may want to brush your teeth beforehand, so they are clean. Leftover food can give you a wrong result.

Tip number 5: Rub the pearls against each other

In principle, this method is exactly the same as the second method, but instead of rubbing pearls on your teeth, you rub the pearls against each other. Real pearls will produce a chalk layer between the friction of two pearls that fake pearls do not have. The chalk you see is the nacre layers created by the friction between the pearls.

Tip number 6: Feel the coolness of the touch and the weight

Pearls have always been a valuable piece of jewelry, so real pearls also have some recognizable physical characteristics if you look closely. The nature of the pearl is the layers of nacre. True pearls when touching sensitive skin areas like the eyelids or face, feel cool, slippery, and heavy to hold. Fake pearls are usually lighter. Therefore, you do not feel the heat like real pearls. In terms of a real pearl that can reflect five colors, it has a very luxurious glossy color, while fake pearls will be coated with glossy paint but look very cheap.

Tip number 7: Check with radial X-ray machine

This way you can ask your provider to do it and give you the results for validation. This is the most accurate way to know which real cultured pearl is. Currently, almost natural pearls are gone, mostly cultured pearls, so it will have a nucleus inside the pearl and only Radial X-ray machine can see this characteristic. AS an alternative you can cut the pearl to see the inside (not recommended). The smaller the nucleus compared to the pearl, the better the quality.


What you should avoid

1. Do not use only one test to examine the authenticity of a pearl.

At the risk of repeating myself, any and all the above tests can produce incorrect results. To be sure of the result, you should do several tests.

As just one example of how an isolated test can be misleading, research has shown that specially treated and polished pearls can feel very smooth on the teeth and on a friction test.

2. Avoid the "burn" test

Some sources may advise holding the pearls over an open flame to see if they are real or fake. These sources claim that fake pearls burn or melt, whereas real pearls remain untouched by the fire. The truth is far more complicated. Some fake pearls are damaged by fire, but so are some real ones. Real pearls that have been covered with an artificial outer layer are particularly prone to fire and can become stained, deformed drill holes and a ruined chandelier after just a few seconds in the fire.

It should also be noted that pearls can store heat very well and therefore become very hot over a flame. If you decide to do this test anyway, you should take precautionary measures to avoid getting burned.