Pearls are one of nature’s greatest miracles – and their splendour never ceases to amaze us. From their extraordinarily radiant finish to their gorgeous shades and gracefulness, pearls masterfully capture the exquisite beauty of the mysterious ocean. You love them, you admire them and you want them in your life, accessorizing everything from little black dresses to smart pant suits. If you are interested in purchasing a new necklace or a pair of earrings featuring these natural gems, being informed regarding the qualities of real pearls is essential for a successful shopping experience.
What’s the Difference between Real and Fake Pearls?
We’ve narrowed down for you some of the most important aspects to consider prior to making your choice. From the shape and size of real versus fake pearls, to the subtle, but noticeable dissimilarities in texture and temperature, here are the 10 most effective ways to tell the difference.
Real Pearls are Heavier than Fake Pearls
One of the very first differences between real and fake pearls is no other than their weight. If you grab a real pearl necklace in one hand and a faux pearl necklace with the same amount of gems in the other, more often than not, the real pearls will feel heavier. However, this method of testing real pearls from fake ones is not always 100% accurate. Since the technologies used in manufacturing pearls are constantly developing, many imitation pearls on the market feel just as heavy as the real gems. While plastic and resin pearls will immediately feel very light when held, other materials like composite or shell will imitate the weight of the real pearls quite well.
Real Pearls Aren’t Perfectly Round
Beauty is rarely defined by perfection – and natural pearls are the best example of that. One of the first things to assess when admiring a new necklace or bracelet is whether the pearls are perfectly round. While some natural pearls can be as close to perfectly round as possible, most aren’t. And, by contrast, manufactured pearls, be it the case of glass, composite, plastic or shell are always faultlessly round. If you are determined to find out whether your gorgeous pearl necklace features natural pearls, simply observe them closely using a magnifying glass. If each pearl seems perfectly symmetrical and round, then chances are you are looking at a faux pearl necklace. But if you discover that your jewelry piece features pearls that display small asymmetries, off-round or possibly even elongated, oval shapes, then you are probably the lucky owner of a genuine pearl necklace.
Real Pearls Are Unique
Just like anything else created by Mother Nature, no two pearls are identical. Natural pearls are the definition of ‘perfection is in the imperfections’ – and that’s exactly why they’re so special. Not only aren’t real pearls perfectly round, but they vary from each other in terms of lustre, size, as well as color. It’s pretty easy to tell if you are looking at a fake pearl necklace when observing the gems in line, since each and every pearl will have the same size, weight, radiance factor and shade.
Real Pearls Are Gritty, While Faux Pearls Are Smooth
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One of the most noticeable differences between real and fake pearls is the fact that they are quite different in texture. More precisely, real pearls come with subtle ridges, while faux pearls are always smooth and crease-free. This slightly wrinkly texture might not be visible to the bare eye, but there is a very efficient way of testing it out. Grab a pearl between your index and your thumb and test its texture on your teeth – if it’s smooth and neat, you’re holding a fake pearl. Imitation pearls are always slippery, which is another good indicator of their origin. If your pearl has a slightly gritty feel to it, then you are looking at a real, natural beauty.
Real Pearls Are Utterly Radiant
You tried weighing your pearls and even gave the tooth test a try, but you are still not sure whether you are the owner of real pearls or just a quality batch of fakes. This next evaluation will solve your dilemma – and all you need for this test is a bit of sunshine. Fact is, real pearls have a radiance to them that can’t be duplicated and their reflective qualities are undeniable. But more than that, exposing your pearls to bright sun will show whether they are all perfectly matched or not. A necklace that features pearls that are all equally crisp white in the sun will most likely be a fake pearl necklace. A necklace or bracelet that comes with pearls with slight color variations and a subtle yellow (or occasionally pink) tinge will most likely be the real deal.
Real Pearls Are Colder Than Fake Pearls
Given the fact that real pearls come from the depths of the waters and are 100% organic, they will feel cold to the touch, regardless of weather. And as you might have guessed, the vast majority of fake pearls will likely feel warmer and stay at room temperature whether worn or not. By comparison, while real pearls will initially feel cooler, they will adjust to your body temperature once you wear them. There are some really high quality fake pearls out there which can imitate the thermic properties of real pearls. Most of these variations are made of glass, which are also cool to touch, just like genuine pearls. However, it will take longer for glass beads to warm up to your skin than natural pearls.
Real Pearls Come with Knots
Since veritable pearl jewelry is highly expensive and precious, vendors make sure to protect the natural beads with tiny knots. Made out of silk or microfiber strands, the knots serve the purpose of protecting the pearls in case of an accident or excessive scraping. Keeping this in mind, don’t be fooled by knots – there are many high quality fake pearl necklaces out there that come with knots. However, you shouldn’t be able to find any real pearl necklaces without these little protective ties. For the best assessment, always make sure to test the pearls using at least three methods, including shape, radiance and texture.
Real Pearls Feature Small and Neat Drill Holes
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One of the more obvious differences between natural and fake pearls is the fact that the real ones usually come with smaller drill holes. The reason behind this fact is that jewelry designers do their best at preserving the integrity of the pearl, so they will drill the holes as delicately as possible. Not only that, but in many instances, fake pearls will feature chipped paint around the drill hole. Real pearls come with neat holes that don’t feature any cracking or discoloration. In most cases, it is easy to assess the quality of a pearly jewelry piece by simply taking a close look at its finishes.
Real Extra Large Pearls Are Very Expensive
You’ve come across a ‘real’ pearl bracelet that features impressively large gems and you are considering buying it. And since it comes with a tempting price tag, you’re ready to seal the deal. Here’s a quick advice to keep in mind: when it comes to pearls, if it feels that it’s too good to be true, you’re probably right. Fact is, extra-large real pearls are rarely available – and if they are, they come with distinctively elevated prices. As you might have guessed, big pearls are more valuable, which means that it is basically impossible to find a great bargain featuring large, veritable pearls.
Real Pearls Do Not Sound Tinny, While Fake Ones Do
Another easy way to test out your pearls is by… listening to them! That’s right, the way your pearls sound is a big indicator on whether they are genuine or fake. If you take a pearl necklace, knock the beads together and hear a metallic, thin sound, chances are you are holding a fake piece. But if shaking and knocking your necklace results in a soft, warmer sound, then you are probably handling genuine pearls. If you’re willing to continue testing, there’s one more thing you can do: scraping two pearls together while paying extra attention to the sound they make. If what you’re hearing is the sound of a sandy texture, then you can assess that your pearls are real.
Real Pearls Create Powder When Rubbed
This next method of trying to identify the origin of your pearls might be a little invasive, but it is definitely 100% accurate. If you are determined to put an end to your doubts, try out the rubbing test – but be mindful of the fact that it might cause a slight degradation to your pearls. Simply grab two pearls, rub them together and notice whether they form a fine powder. If so, you are looking at genuine pearls – but if not, then you are rubbing falsies. Occasionally, faux pearls that are coated will rub off their coating when grazed together, but it will not look like fine powder.
There is a wide range of pearl jewelry on the market – from choker necklaces to dangly earrings and elegant bracelets. Timelessly elegant and unmistakably chic, pearls can definitely elevate any outfit and give you an instantly sophisticated makeover. If you are determined to return home with a veritable pearl piece, then always make sure you’re up-to-date with the differences between the real deal and faux gems. Next steps: thoroughly enjoying your shopping spree and accessorizing in style with your newest gorgeous acquisitions.