How to Tell if a Pearl is Real? Here are Some Tips

August 8, 2017 by Kiesha Joseph

How to tell if a pearl is real? The world today, especially in the gemstone business, is full of counterfeits and imitations. The pearl industry is not an exception. Before, pearls were only found in the wild. This made pearls very rare. Today, technology makes fake pearls look so real. So, the probability of getting a counterfeit pearl can be high.

Counterfeit pearl products change over time. An imitation pearl today, may not have the same features as a counterfeit pearl a couple of years ago. Therefore, the best way to know how to tell if pearls are real is by knowing the features of an authentic pearl. So let’s learn how to tell if a pearl is real.

Tips How to Tell If a Pearl is Real or Fake:

Feeling the Pearl

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 pearl has a unique weight. Counterfeits may have a weight that is ridiculously small or an exaggerated heavyweight.

Real pearls come in different sizes and shapes, unlike the counterfeit ones that come in basically one-size-and-shape-fits-all. Genuine pearls have the ability to reflect unlike the imitations, which have no reflection capabilities.

The Luster of Real Pearls VS Fake Pearls

Another way of telling whether a pearl is real is by checking its luster. A real pearl has a unique pearl luster 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 jewelers can check the “natural flaws” in a pearl using a magnifying object.

In real pearls, these same ridges can be felt using the teeth. However, testing with the teeth is not accepted by many retailers.

Rubbing Two Pearls Together

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.

Using Fire to Test Pearl Authenticity

Another method anyone can use to learn how to tell if pearls are real is a naked flame. When you burn a real pearl mildly, the pearl remains shiny, intact and produces no odor. If the flame is consistent for about 2 minutes, the pearl produces a pop sound. A counterfeit pearl coming across a naked fire will produce a bad odor, and it loses its luster.

There are special chemical methods that can be used to find out if a pearl is real. A genuine pearl has a relative density of 2.73 and dissolves in hydrochloric acid. Counterfeit pearls don’t react to hydrochloric acid. An authentic pearl is not affected by acetone solution. However, a counterfeit one loses its luster totally when acetone is used.