Can the Pearl Tooth Test Really Tell You If Your Gem Is Real?

December 1, 2017 by Kiesha Joseph

What is the pearl tooth test? This is a quick way of testing the gem to see if it’s real or fake. But, this is just one of many ways to tell if your pearls are genuine or faux. Let’s discuss the tooth test, as well as nine other ways to test your gemstones for authenticity.

How to Do the Pearl Tooth Test

Pearl Tooth Test
Pearl Tooth Test. Image Source: Alina Blaga

Conducting the pearl tooth test only takes a little experience. Contrary to what the name suggests, it doesn’t involve actually biting down on the gem. You could chip your tooth! Now, that would be absurd!

To perform the tooth test on a pearl, take the gemstone and rub it along your tooth’s biting edge. A real pearl will feel rough and gritty on your tooth. Faux pearls will feel almost perfectly smooth.

Sounds backwards, right? Well, real pearls are generally grittier than faux their faux counterparts.

Video: The Pearl Tooth Test & More

Watch this YouTube video from SmitCo LLC. It shows how to perform the pearl tooth test. You’ll also learn other valuable tips to help you determine whether a pearl is fake or real.

Why are fake pearls smoother than real pearls?

Natural pearls are formed through a process where multiple layers of sediment, called nacre, are formed. Layer after layer of nacre is created until a pearl is born.

Each layer naturally forms small ridges and scales that are visible under a microscope. You can also generally feel these scales and ridges during the pearl tooth test.

9 Other Tests That Help Tell If a Pearl is Real or Fake

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Using the pearl tooth test alone may not be such a good idea if you plan on spending good bucks on a high-end strand of pearls or set of pearl earrings. Here are 9 other tests you can incorporate into your pearl testing routine to see if a pearl is real of fake:

  1. Fake pearls are lightweight. Real pearls will be much heavier than faux gems. A real pearl’s nacre is very dense. Nacre is much denser than resin or plastic, the two most common materials costume jewelers use to make faux pearls. However, this yes is not exactly foolproof as, if the gems are made using reconstituted and crushed shells (shell pearls) or composite and glass, this test won’t work well.
  2. Cracking or chipped pain are good indications that the gems may not be real. Inspect the areas around the drill holes. Real gems will have smooth drill holes with no chipping.
  3. No two real pearls are 100% alike. So, if every gem on that strand of pearls is exactly the same, they are fakes. High quality pearl jewelry has well-matched gemstones. But, if you look closely, there are some differences.
  4. Pay attention to size. Are they huge in size? South Sea pearls are generally the largest on the market. They are also the rarest, making them very valuable… and expensive. So, if the gem is large, and cheaply priced, it’s a fake.
  5. Knots matter. Real pearls are knotted individually on microfiber or silk strands for the gems’ longevity. This prevents the gemstones from rubbing against each other. Also, if your strand of pearls snag on an object and gets broken, all the gems don’t go falling to the floor.
  6. Unusual coloring is not natural. Mind you, real pearls are dyed all the time by pearl jewelers to cover imperfections or for fashion and style. Yet, high-end and quality jewelers tend to stick with colors we see everyday in nature… because pearls are nature’s gem.
  7. Are they cool to the touch? If so, do the quickly warm up to the temperature of your body when you put them on? Then, they’re probably real. Faux pearls feel like room temperature from the moment you touch them.
  8. There should be some imperfections. A real strand of pearls won’t be perfectly uniform. Some imperfections and differences in the gems should exist. Real cultured pearls are created by mother nature… and oysters… a living creature. So, much like any living creature (short of identical twins and such), no two are exactly the same. A strand of real pearls, even if they’re all round, will have some small bumps, lumps and minor imperfections on the gemstones. If each one is exactly the same, the pearls aren’t real.
  9. Faux pearls shine. Real pearls glow. Check them out under natural light. The layers of nacre are translucent. So, when they reflect light, it looks as if there’s an inner glow. This luster is impossible to recreate by anything other than an oyster. Remember, they should glow, not shine.

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Kiesha Joseph
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Kiesha Joseph

The Pearl Source Content Manager at Content Marketing Geek Corporation
Kiesha Joseph is the Managing Content Editor for ThePearlSource.com, a leading online pearl jewelry website offering high-quality pearls at affordable prices. Kiesha is a Content Marketing Geek who enjoys educating her audience on a broad range of topics, including trends in marketing, SEO, jewelry, fashion, celebrity style and more.
Kiesha Joseph
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