Pearls, like diamonds, are a woman’s best friend. There is no letting up in the demand for pearls, and so anyone interested in buying pearls should be able to tell which ones are genuine, and which ones are not.
We’ve created an article to answer the most common questions about genuine pearls and hopefully, this will help you to differentiate real pearls and fake pearls.
Table of Contents
Are real pearls heavy?
This is one of the most obvious differences between genuine pearls and manufactured ones. Fake pearls are usually made of materials like fish scales, acrylic paint, and plastic.
These are all ultra-light materials that will make the finished product lighter than genuine pearls. An easy way to confirm this would be to weigh a genuine pearl necklace and a suspect pearl necklace side by side. The necklaces should have the same amount of pearls (on average).
You will be able to tell the difference immediately – real pearls will be heavier. Take note however that some manufacturers have begun using more sophisticated technologies to create faux pearls, so the weighing test should be used in conjunction with other physical tests. Faux pearls made with shells, for example, might end up being as heavy as the real ones.
How much are real pearls worth?
Pearls, like gemstones, have different values depending on their appearance and how they were sourced. South Sea pearls are considered top-tier and are valued the most.
A single column or string of South Sea Pearls can be priced at $1000, all the way up to $100,000. Tahitian pearls, on the other hand, exhibit darker colors and are of high quality, too. Tahitian pearls can be priced at $500 – $25,000. Akoya pearls are the most familiar of the pearl types. They’re small, round, and white.
The cost of Akoya pearls can range anywhere from $300 to a ceiling of $10,000. And finally, we have freshwater pearls. Freshwater pearls are nearly identical to Akoya pearls but cost far less due to higher availability.
A strand of freshwater pearls can cost just $50, but others with better colors and quality can still fetch a hefty $2,000 per strand. Take note that a lot of times, the price of a string of pearls will depend on the quality of the pearls themselves. The price points can vary from place to place, and from jeweler to jeweler. Unblemished pearls are valued the most, wherever they may have been sourced.
Do real pearls turn yellow?
Yes, real pearls do turn yellow as they age. Unlike inorganic materials, pearls age quite visibly. Jewelers only present people with pictures of pearls when they are newly harvested, so many of them are naturally white. However, as time passes, pearls can turn yellow due to lack of moisture.
Yellow pearls are also more fragile, so it’s best to take good care of yellow pearls at home so you don’t damage them. One of the easier ways to reduce the yellowing of genuine pearls is to wear them frequently, so your body’s natural oils are absorbed by the pearls.
They will be able to keep their white color and shine longer if they are moistened with body oils regularly. Faux pearls will maintain their white color as these do not undergo the same physical changes as organic, genuine pearls.
How do pearls feel like?
This is another reliable test, right next to the side by side weighing test that we talked about earlier. When you touch real pearls to your teeth (not on the cutting edge, as your teeth might damage the pearls), you will notice a subtle sandpaper-like texture.
The reason for this is that pearls aren’t perfectly smooth. They have ridges all over them that aren’t immediately visible to the naked eye.
Due to their natural texture, real pearls also aren’t slippery, whereas fake ones will almost immediately shoot out of your fingers because they’re so smooth and round. This is one of the best tests to find out if pearls are genuine or not.
Can you test the radiance of pearls?
Yes. A visual test can reveal a lot more about a string of pearls. Simply expose the string of pearls to natural sunlight and you will see how radiant they are. Genuine pearls scintillate light in a way that faux pearls will never do.
You will also notice that real pearls will naturally be uniform in appearance while the faux ones won’t reflect natural sunlight he same way. You may also see some colors that only appear under more intense lighting.
Hues of pink and yellow are common for original pearls, especially if the pearls in question are few years old already and have been in storage. As we have mentioned earlier, natural pearls age just like anything else and the patina of time is how they turn slightly yellow over the years.
Are real pearls warm to touch?
No, they are not. Natural pearls are organic and will stay cool even if they are placed in a room with no air-conditioning. Fake pearls on the other hand, as they are made of plastic, will likely mimic the temperature of the room. So when the room is warm, faux pearls will be warm to the touch, too.
Do pearls have large drill holes?
To string together pearls, jewelers have to create drill holes through them. Faux pearls will have much larger drill holes (enough for you to peek through usually) while real pearls, due to their value; will have much smaller drill holes to preserve the physical integrity of the pearls.
What does it mean when there’s powder on pearls?
If you happened to rub together two pearls and a fine powder formed afterward on your fingers, you are likely holding genuine pearls. Real pearls create this powder because they are organic, to begin with. Faux pearls will not create powder because they are made of plastics and resin.
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