We reveal unique methods we use to verify our pearl jewellery
Nowadays, the pearl industry is full of counterfeits and imitations. Hence, before purchasing pearl jewellery, the first question most people ask is: How do I know if the pearls are real?
Now, our pearl expert from Perla D’or Jewellery is going to share some unique tricks that everyone can learn to distinguish between real pearls from imitations.
In the jewellery industry, any of the best-selling gems can be treated, even imitations. Pearls are the same, the most commonly seen counterfeit pearls are Imitation pearls (fake pearls) and treated pearls (also known as “Dyed pearls”).
In this blog we will focus on how to recognise imitation pearls and in the next blog we will talk about treated pearls or ‘dyed pearls’.
Imitation pearls are usually made of glued pearl powder or shells, and some are made of glass or even plastic. There are three major types of Imitation pearls found on the market:
- Majorica Pearls
Majorica pearls have a closer resemblance to natural pearls than any other type of imitation pearl. Hence, Majorica pearls are often used as fine pearl alternatives for some high street stores. The outer layer of Majorica pearls are coated with a pearl-like substance which is created form a liquefied mix of ground up powdered mother of pearl, fish scales and oil, which gives Majorica pearls a very ‘realistic’ appearance closely resembling real pearls.
So how do we distinguish between them? The answer is: the ‘Tooth Test’. More details of how to use this easy but effective test will be introduced in the following section.
- Shell Pearls
Shell pearls are created from rounded beads from a pearl oyster's shell or by crushing mother-of-pearl into a very fine pearl powder, then coat the powder onto the bead nucleus. Then dye the rounded out pieces in various colours and polish.
To classify shell pearls form real pearls, you need to focus on the "lustre" and colours. Shell Pearls display very uniform rates of light reflection, and their colours will all be solid, uniform hues with little to no natural shading/variation.
- Crystal Pearls
Easy to spot due to their plastic-y looking shine and perfect uniformity in colour, shape and size.
No matter which method is used, imitation pearls are generally inexpensive, are often used in cheap jewellery and clothing accessories, and are relatively easy to identify.
What is the Tooth Test for Pearls?
The Tooth Test is one of the easiest and universal pearl tests to try. When doing the tooth test, you gently scrape the surface of the pearls against your teeth. Do this Very Gently, as pearls are soft you really need to avoid scratching the pearls. The surface of a real pearl shall give you a gritty texture feeling on your teeth, somewhat like a fine-grain sandpaper. This texture is the result of countless microscopic layers of aragonite platelets crystalline layered on top of each other like the tiles of a roof, which creates the surface of pearl.
Synthetic pearls should feel like plastic, because man-made pearls lack these crystalline plates. The Tooth Test is not all you need to know about pearl testing, as it won’t tell you whether the pearls are dyed or not. In the next blog, we will give more tails about dyed pearls.
How to distinguish Imitation Pearls
1. By the appearance of the pearls: size, colour, gloss, shape, etc.
Imitation pearls are very consistent in appearance because they are streamlined products; while the size, colour and shape of naturally grown pearls will vary. For example, in a real pearl necklace, the beads at the tail of the chain which near the clasp will be smaller than the beads at the center on the front
Some will have size discrepancies, or the colour of the real pearl may not be the same, and the shape will not be perfectly round. IT IS VERY, VERY RARE TO FIND A PERFECTLY ROUND PEARL, let alone a whole string of perfectly round pearls.
So, pearls or pearl jewelry that are too perfect and inexpensive, must need close scrutiny to ascertain their authenticity.
2 Imitation pearls are the almost flawless
Real pearls always show more or less traces of natural growth, the so-called blemishes. But the imitation pearls can be flawless.
3 Real and imitation pearls have a different feel to the touch
True pearls have a cool feeling when put them close to the skin, while imitation pearls are warm.
4 Imitation pearls have different textures
When rubbing two real pearls against each other, there will be a little friction sensation, and there will be traces of fine pearl powder, but there will be no damage on the surface of the pearls after wiping the powder off.
The sensation of rubbing two imitation pearls with each other is a very slippery feeling, and if you rub it hard enough, the surface of the imitation pearls will peel into pieces.
5 Check for clues around the drill hole
Examine the drill holes of your pearls carefully - real pearls always have very sharp edges while the imitation pearls may have chipped paint or coating around the holes. Their drill holes are commonly not round and sharp enough, their artificial coating can even be wear away around the holes. The glass or plastic core of imitation pearls may be present in this case.
The picture below shows the drill holes of the imitation pearls.
6. Magnifying glass assisted observation surface
Through a magnifying glass, you can see that the layer on the surface of the real pearl is a layered tile structure, which shows the growth traces, while the imitation pearls have the uneven eggshell shape like the surface of an egg.
The tile-like structure on the surface of the pearl (the schematic diagram on the left and the real shot on the right)
Always remember, when you are not sure, rely on a trustworthy brand or expert who can provide you with good suggestions and a reasonable price to make the decision about your purchase and make it a real value.
Buy jewellery by its value not its price. As we say at Perla D’or - always pass on the right jewellery to the right owner - we don’t make jewellery, we make a memory.