Ever since their first appearance in ancient times, pearls have become one of the most valuable gemstones in the world. Their versatility and effortless beauty undoubtedly make them the top choice among fashionistas and style icons to complete their looks in a classy and chic way.
However, due to their rarity in the jewelry industry, many people have been using machines to produce fake pearls. These pearls are often made from glass, plastic, or shells that have a pearly coating resembling the appearance of real pearls.
On the other hand, real pearls are mainly produced by pearl-bearing oysters in fresh or salt waters. They can either be cultured or natural, with the vast majority of pearls being cultured on the market today.
Besides knowing the true origin of fake and real pearls, there are other methods you can use to determine if your pearls are the real deal.
Look for knotting
Since pearls are a very delicate gemstone, most jewelry pieces made out of them will be strung with tiny knots in between each bead. This helps keep them intact and prevents them from bumping and rubbing against each other.
For instance, if you want to determine whether your pearl strand is actually a real pearl necklace, look at the type of knotting that is used to string the beads together, which should be a silk thread. This thread can be used to knot pearls in a single strand following The Bead Knotter technique, the Japanese knotting method, and the double-strand knotting technique used in the “Endless Necklace”.
Check the drill hole
Another helpful tip you should follow to determine the authenticity of your pearl jewelry is to check the drill hole. This is the hole that is drilled through each pearl which should be clean and narrow. You might even see some traces of powder on the string which is also an indication that your pearls are real.
On the other hand, fake pearls usually have large and uneven holes with a color that doesn’t match the coating on the outside of the bead. They will also have places where their coating is beginning to peel away from the pearl, which is most noticeable in older vintage pieces.
Look closely at the surface
Examining the surface of the pearls is another way to check if your pearl jewelry is real. Typically, cultured pearls will always have some irregularities such as bumps and dimples, indicating that they are real.
Besides the tiny differences in their surface, real pearls will also have a shine that makes the pearl really stand out, as opposed to fake pearls which typically have a glassy and unnatural look.
Also, don’t forget to observe the shape of the pearls. Real pearls are rarely round and you can find them in a variety of shapes, compared to fake pearls which are typically perfectly round.
Roll it around
The roll test is a type of method used to check the authenticity only on loose pearls. As mentioned earlier, real pearls have lots of irregularities and inconsistencies which can make the beads wobble and tilt off course when rolled around. If the pearls roll evenly on a flat surface, then you have fake pearl jewelry.
It is important to note that this test can be a bit tricky with high-quality pearls. Even gem graders perform the roll test when evaluating wholesale pearls. In general, round pearls are more valuable than off-round ones, while perfectly spherical ones that roll straight are the most desirable.
Try the pearl tooth test
Probably the easiest way to determine if your pearl jewelry is real is to try the pearl tooth test. You can take the pearl and gently rub it along the surface of your tooth.
If you feel a grittiness similar to sandpaper, then there will be a great deal of friction, indicating that your pearls are real. On the other hand, if the pearl feels smooth, then they are most likely fake.
If you don’t want to rub the pearls on your tooth, you can also try rubbing the pearls together to check their originality.
Determining the authenticity of pearls takes a careful eye, but with a few tricks, you can easily check whether your pearl jewelry is made from real or fake beads. From looking closely at the craftsmanship of the pearl to performing various tests, follow the tips from our post and ensure you are purchasing real pearls.