Real vs Fake Pearl Jewelry - Pearl Universe is your online shop for jewelry

Real vs. Fake

Pearls are a true Gem of nature, this article is to explain certain techniques to determine the authenticity of Pearls.

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Real Pearls versus Imitation Pearls

To clarify a first matter, there are natural, cultured, and fake imitation pearls. Both natural and cultured pearls are real pearls, the only difference is that natural pearls occur in the wild, and are therefore extremely rare. Cultured pearls are grown by Pearl Farmers. These pearls are made of the same material as natural pearls, and takes time to grow, this may even take up to seven years depending on the type.

These cultured pearls are formed inside a living Pinctada Maxima oyster for South Sea, a Pinctada margaritifera oyster for Tahitian Pearls, a Pinctada fucata martensii for Akoya Pearls, and a Hyropsis Cumingi mussel for Freshwater Pearls, a small nucleus (seed) is injected and the oyster/mussel coats it with smooth layers of nacre, they are therefore genuine real pearls, created by nature itself. Almost all pearls sold today are cultured, unless they are imitation.
Imitation pearls are often created from glass or plastic, and are coated with a synthetic resin, cellulose, or a lacquer to give them a pearl like appearance.
We will now provide you with a few techniques to determine for yourself if you have a genuine pearl, or an imitation pearl. Although it will not provide you with a 100 % proof; it will certainly help in determining the authenticity of your pearl.

Test 1: Pricing.

If the deal is too good to be true, it is probably not a great deal. Imitation pearls are mostly offered at a remarkably low price or high discount; the pearl industry cannot compete with these prices. Therefore pricing might already give away you are not dealing with the real deal.


Test 2: Names.


Watch for any of the following names when buying pearls: simulated, fake, glass, plastic, synthetic, resin, artificial, manmade. The name might simply give it away.


Test 3: Feeling.


Real pearls have a sense of cool when holding them, imitation pearls will feel warmer.


Test 4: Tooth test.


A simple test you can perform yourself is the tooth test, rub the pearl lightly against the front of your teeth. Do not rub it against the edge of your teeth as this may scratch the body of the pearl. A real pearl should feel gritty, where an imitation pearl will in most cases feel smooth. The layers of nacre on a real pearl will prevent the pearl from feeling smooth, therefore a glassy perfect smooth surface will indicate the pearl is an imitation product.


Test 5: Weight.


A real pearl will feel relatively heavy, an imitation pearl (unless solid glass) will feel light.


Test 6: Flawlessness.


A perfect pearl with absolutely no flaws are extremely rare, real pearls do often have (minimal) flaws. Imitation pearls are usually created without any flaws.


Test 7: Magnification.

Under magnification, examine the surface of the pearl; if it appears grainy (eggshell like) the pearl is most likely an imitation pearl. If the surface looks fine-grained, with crooked lines, looking maze-like, you are most likely dealing with a cultured/natural pearl.
You can also examine the drill hole area. Real pearls have a drill hole that is commonly smooth and sharp, and you can find a clear line dividing the nucleus and nacre. Imitation earls have a drill hole that is often uneven; the coating around the edges may have flaked off.


Test 8: Observing.


Imitation pearls often have the exact same size and shape. Simply observe. A genuine pearl will have its own personality, a beautiful overtone, luster that can’t be re-created, and imperfections. Most important; no pearl is like the other, see a real pearl as a unique creation of nature and look for its individuality.


We at Pearl Universe offer high quality genuine Pearls only. Please feel free to visit our Pearl Universe Shop to see all of our products.

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