How can I tell if my pearl jewellery is authentic?

Pearls – How can I tell if my pearls are the genuine article? This is one of the most popular and most asked questions in the jewellery world. Its no surprise really when you can see pearl necklaces ranging from £40 into £15,000 and beyond. With many different types of pearl out there on the market, as well as different colour variations, and sizes, what makes this beautiful jewellery so interesting can often be what leads it to be a little overwhelming. Thankfully we are here to help.

The first and the easiest way to tell if a pearl is real is by feeling it. When you touch a real pearl, it feels cool and warms up when worn. Fake pearls feel warm and can be sticky when felt with fingers. A natural has a unique weight. Counterfeits may have a weight that is ridiculously small or an exaggerated heavyweight to try and disguise it.

Another way of telling whether a pearl is real is by checking its lustre. A real pearl has a unique pearl lustre and a natural, rough feel. This is because it has small ridges on its surface. These ridges may not be visible to the naked eye. However, experts and jewellers can check the “natural flaws” in a pearl using a jeweller’s loop or a magnifying glass. In real pearls, these same ridges can be felt using the teeth which is why you may have seen this technique used, however understandably this can be frowned upon in many retailers!

Another interesting way to tell a real pearl item from a fake is sound. When a real pearl is rubbed against another real pearl, a pearl powder is produced. The same effect is seen if a real pearl is lightly scrubbed using a knife. If two fake pearls are rubbed against each other, the process is smooth, and no powder is produced. Knock two real pearls against each other, and a soft and unique sound is produced.  When counterfeit pearls are knocked together, the sound that is produced is very slight.

Hopefully this has helped a little bit in navigating the technical but fascinating and beautiful world of pearls.


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