Rare and valuable minerals

How to distinguish good pearls from bad ones?

Because of their rarity and high value, pearl jewelry has been the most coveted among rulers and people of the highest material status for thousands of years. Only a few could afford such jewelry. Due to the industrial cultivation of pearls, which began on a large scale in the 20th century, its price was reduced. This led to the displacement of naturally occurring pearls from the market in favor of cultivated ones. But still these products were very expensive. Then artificial analogues appeared on the market, imitating real pearls in such a way that it is impossible for a non-specialist to distinguish them, especially from a photo. There would be nothing wrong with this if the fakes were labeled. However, some manufacturers deliberately mislead the buyer. In this article we will talk about how to distinguish real pearls from industrially cultured and fake ones.

How to check pearls

  • freshwater – grown in lakes and rivers. This makes breeding them easier. From one river mussel you can get up to several dozen stones, and from a sea mussel you get one pearl, so it costs more;
  • sea – divided into three types:
  • Akoya It is distinguished by its even shape, white color and strong shine.
  • Tahiti originally from French Polynesia. It comes only in dark shades – from silver to graphite, green or brown.
  • south sea pearls – the most expensive due to its unique golden hue.

2. Form. Although pearls are associated with round shapes, there is much more variety in nature. There are: oval (rice) or drop-shaped pearls, semicircular (¾ round) pearls, that is, with one round part and a flat part on the other, and baroque.

The most expensive are round pearls. The more their shape resembles a ball, the higher the price. They are used to make necklaces and bracelets, but the most beautiful single specimens are used in gold earrings, pendants or rings.

Due to the high cost of round pearls, they are rarely used in silver items. This is something to pay attention to when purchasing silver jewelry. Inserts made of natural stones are rarely used there.

In second place in cost is oval pearls (tear drops, drops), which look best in dangling earrings and pendants. Small pearls up to 9,0 mm in diameter are often used in women’s and men’s silver jewelry. Sometimes drop-shaped pearls can cost even more than round ones.

Semicircular Due to their lower price, pearls are the most popular choice among the entire silver jewelry collection.

Baroque – usually the cheapest pearls, and their various forms inspire jewelry artists who create real masterpieces from them. Such a bead has value only in combination with gold and precious stones. Most often it is used in pendants and brooches, less often in earrings.

3. Dimensions pearls greatly influence the price. The diameter of freshwater is 1–15 mm. In smaller sizes the difference in price is not great – within 20-30%. However, from 9,0mm onwards these differences are significant.

The size of Akoya pearls varies from 2 to 10 mm. Above 8 mm, a large jump in value, even doubling, must be taken into account.

Larger sizes are found in pearls from Tahiti and the South Seas. In Tahiti it is about 8–18 mm, and quite reasonable prices are up to 12 mm. If beads or jewelry with pearls from 16 mm are inexpensive, this is a reason to find out whether it is real or not.

The diameter of South Sea pearls is within 10–20 mm. Sometimes larger specimens are found. However, it is difficult to find a string of such pearls on the market. It takes much longer to grow large pearls. This is associated with a significant risk of its distortion and the appearance of various types of imperfections. This affects their rarity and price.

4. Surface quality. One of the reliable ways to check the authenticity of pearls is to carefully examine its surface. Since it is a natural product of shellfish, its surface is rarely perfectly smooth. There may be some growths, pits, redrawing or color changes on it. The fewer these defects, the more expensive the product will be.

5. Shine. The stronger the shine, the greater the pearl’s ability to reflect objects around it. The price difference between low gloss, matte pearls and very shiny pearls can be several times in favor of gloss.

6. Pearl color consists of a primary color (white, dark, gray, etc.) and a glow – overtone (shade).

Freshwater fake pearls are often dyed or bleached white. The most natural colors are cream and salmon.

Sea pearls change color less frequently. The most valuable Akoya will be white with a pink tint. Tahiti Green and South Sea Bright Gold.

7. Shell thickness. The thicker its coating, the stronger the pearl. Freshwater pearls are better in this regard because their shells are almost entirely mother-of-pearl. The core of a pearl, that is, the element that initiates its formation, is the size of a grain of sand.

Recently, nuclear freshwater pearls have been grown and sold, which are much cheaper than sea pearls. The thickness of Akoe is 0,3–0,7 mm. High-quality pure pearls from Tahiti and the South Seas must have a coating thickness of at least 2 mm.

8. Decoration finishing depends on its value of pearls. If you have perfect balls with a beautiful and shining surface, but the clasp is made of cheap metal, it is 99% fake.

How to accurately check the naturalness of pearls

The first thing you should pay attention to is the weight. Natural pearls are heavy. It weighs like glass or marble, and plastic jewelry is lightweight.

An easy way to identify real or fake pearls is by holding the item in your hands or by placing a pearl necklace around your neck. Natural pearl should be cold to the touch. That is, you will feel chills. Only after a few seconds on the body do the beads heat up. In the case of artificial pearls, there is no such effect. Polymer fakes heat up instantly.

Consider how the shape of a pearl looks: real pearls are almost never perfectly round. In freshwater pearls, roundness is almost impossible. The marine specimen is usually more even, but also imperfect.

Even if it looks like a ball, there will be some deviations when measured carefully.

The most expensive natural pearls with a flawlessly smooth surface. It is designed for gold items such as rings, pendants or earrings.

It is not used in necklaces and bracelets due to shortcomings – holes, scratches and differences in color. These defects help identify natural pearls as real ones.

Like the surface, the color of pearls is not uniform. The easiest way to see the differences is in dark pearls, which have a wide range of secondary colors. When viewing a pearl, its color will change slightly depending on the angle of inclination. White usually shows subtle flashes of pink, yellow or blue.

How to distinguish real pearls from fake pearls in jewelry

In a necklace, each pearl on a string will be more or less similar in color, but not identical. It will always be a little lighter or with a slightly different color saturation.

In good quality earrings it is difficult to tell the difference between two pearls, but in bracelets and necklaces it is easy. Pay attention to whether they are tied in knots. The knots between the pearls provide double protection against friction against each other and against their scattering in the event of possible destruction of the jewelry. In fakes, the node connection is practically not used, because this work is more labor-intensive.

It is not easy to distinguish real pearls from imitation ones by their luster, because artificial pearls are cultivated to imitate natural radiance. However, in the simulations this glow is shallow. With natural beads, the shine comes from deep within because they are made from layers of mother-of-pearl stacked on top of each other. Because these layers are slightly transparent, subsequent ones also emit a glow, creating the effect of depth.

How to check pearl products for authenticity at home

  • Friction method helps you understand whether it is a real pearl or not – you need to rub the beads against each other until you feel friction. Don’t be afraid to apply a little force, without it you won’t notice the difference. Real pearls are rough to the touch. Artificial material is smooth and slippery. If you look closely at the friction area, minor abrasions and light dust are visible, even if the stone is very dark. If you only have one pearl, try rubbing it gently on your front tooth. The roughness of the surface will be felt.
  • How to distinguish pearls by the strength of their reflection. Any mother of pearl – both natural and cultured – is quite stable. When dropped slowly from the height of your lowered hand onto a smooth glass surface, it should reflect half of this height. A plastic imitation will bounce much higher, while a glass imitation will bounce lower.
  • How to check if pearls are real using boiling water. Counterfeit products become deformed and lose their luster when exposed to hot water, vinegar and acetone. Nothing happens to natural ones, even if you leave them in boiling water for a long time, or put them in acetone, vinegar or alcohol.

What are the main differences between natural pearls and cultured and fake ones?

There are many imitation pearls made from different materials on the market. The most famous fakes include the following types:

  • Mallorca is a regional product that is sold with a certificate, so it is often confused with natural pearls. These beads are made entirely by hand from glass or porcelain balls, onto which subsequent layers are applied. First they are painted and then covered with a protective varnish. After this, a multi-layer paste of oil, crushed fish scales or mother-of-pearl is applied. As a result, the pearls are smooth and shiny;
  • Shell – artificially formed balls from shells crushed to a powdery consistency. Features of this type: ideal roundness, smoothness and low price of products made from it;
  • Swarovski Elements — imitation pearls, made from Swarovski crystals and covered with mother-of-pearl. They come in 29 colors, making them relatively easy to identify by their identical shade.

With this knowledge about pearls, you can make more informed jewelry selections and correctly identify counterfeits before purchasing without the help of an expert. Our store offers a wide range of earrings with pearls.

Hello, friends!

Today we’ll talk again about pearls and how to distinguish natural pearls from fake ones. Let’s look at the simplest and most effective methods.

If you are not familiar with my previous article about pearls Types of pearls , then I will remind you how pearls are formed. Pearls are formed by getting a grain of sand or any other particle inside the shell of a mollusk. The mollusk perceives a foreign object as an invasion and begins to defend itself, intensively producing nacre and covering this very grain of sand with it. So, layer by layer, a pearl is formed. Let me also remind you that pearls can be natural, cultured and artificial. You can read more about this in my previous article about pearls Types of pearls

Let’s get started 🙂

  • Price. Pay attention to the price – too low a price for natural pearls can be suspicious. But this does not apply to too high a price, because. it is possible that you can sell a fake for the same price as natural pearls.
  • The weight. Pay attention to the weight of the pearls. Natural pearls will be much heavier than fake ones, because. A natural pearl consists of mother-of-pearl, while the inside of an artificial pearl is made of lighter material.
  • Test. Also, when identifying natural pearls, you can run the pearl across your teeth. Natural pearls will make a slight creaking sound, but fake pearls will not. Also, if a person is well versed in pearls, then you can tap a pearl on your teeth – there will be different sensations from tapping a real pearl and a fake one.
  • Height. If you have individual pearls, you can drop the pearl from a height of about half a meter. A real pearl will bounce off the surface like a ball, but an artificial one will not bounce off, since the fake has a different density.
  • Mechanics. If you only have a necklace, you can check the naturalness of the pearls in it by rubbing two pearls against each other with slight pressure so that pearl powder forms between them. If the pearl is natural, then scratches will form on both pearls, which easily disappear if you rub the surface of the pearl with your fingertips. If the pearls are artificial, then with this procedure you will simply erase the layer of nacre behind which the artificial material is hidden.
  • Comparison. Also, if you only have a whole necklace and no individual pearls, then one good way to identify natural pearls is to compare all the pearls in the necklace to each other. In nature, each pearl is individual and different from the others. Of course, the smoother the surface of the pearls, the better, but unevenness must be present. And if the pearls are fake, then the pearls in one necklace will not differ from each other at all.

  • Inspection. Another proven method is to examine the pearl under a microscope. A real pearl will have a scaly surface and depth, while a fake pearl will be uniform.
  • Chemistry. Also, if you have extra pearls, you can conduct such an experiment. Place the pearl first in acetone, in which real pearls do not dissolve, and then in vinegar – in vinegar, on the contrary, pearls will disintegrate very quickly.
  • Shine. Pay attention to the shine of the pearls. Real pearls have a uniform and deep shine. If the pearls themselves are dull, then perhaps they are fake or natural pearls of poor quality. It is better not to consider such pearls.
  • Hole. Pay attention to where the pearls are drilled. It is better to examine them under a microscope. Natural pearls do not chip due to their higher density, but fake pearls have chips along the edges.
  • Field. If you have the opportunity to place a pearl in an electromagnetic field, then you can use the following method: place the pearl in this same electromagnetic field. A natural pearl will remain motionless, and a cultured one will turn and take its position along the lines of force. This is due to the fact that inside a cultured pearl there is a ball with a special material that reacts to an electromagnetic field.
  • Specialist. And finally, the most reliable way is to take your necklace or pearls to a gemologist, who will use a special X-ray machine to determine the naturalness of the pearls and their quality.

Beautiful jewelry for you! Your Napoleonka 🙂

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