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How to Tell If Pearls Are Real?- 12 Ways

How to Tell if a Pearl Is Real

Pearls are unique from other jewelry because living creatures make them. Even though pearls were not that mainstream in pieces of jewelry, now people understand the importance of jewelry.

Pearls are a timeless accessory that adds a touch of class to every ensemble. Their radiance and brilliance have conjured images of glitz and glamor for generations, adding to the air of mystery surrounding this natural admiration.

But since it has grown in demand, many fraudsters are making fake pearls and deceiving customers. So how do you tell if pearls are real? We have compiled lists of tests that you can perform at home to check the authenticity of pearls and avoid being deceived.

How Pearls Are Formed? 

Some mollusks spontaneously form pearls when an irritant becomes trapped inside their shells. As a protective mechanism, they develop when the organism secretes nacre, a mineral-rich material that covers the irritation. 

Layers of smooth and glossy nacre gradually form around an irritant over the years, creating a pearl. The water conditions and the mollusks that provide them with food cause pearls to naturally exist in a wide variety of hues. 

While cream and white are the most prevalent pearl colors, other hues such as purple, pink, gold, and black are also possible. Pearls with thicker nacre layers are of greater quality, with more appealing hues and a bright sheen.

When a wild mollusk comes into contact with an irritant, pearls naturally develop at random. When we contrast them with cultivated pearls, which people grow in controlled environments, their rarity becomes stark.

Pearl farmers implant the irritant by hand in the cultured pearl process. Pearl farmers implant the irritant by hand to culture the primary kinds, Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea, achieving uniform size and quality.

The inner lining on the shells of some mollusks called the mother of pearls, consists of the same nacre material as pearls. It creates beautiful shimmer and iridescent colors that resemble rainbows. 

While the mother of pearl has long been used as an inlay material for furniture, ornamental boxes, jewelry, and more, it is still a favorite choice for mosaic art designs in modern times.

What Makes Pearl so Special?

Pearls are highly sought-after and unique due to their innate beauty and remarkable rarity. There is no need to mine or chop down trees to create a pearl, unlike other gemstones. Forming layers of glossy nacre surrounding an irritant, they develop naturally within living mollusks and oysters. They are unique among diamonds in that they originate inside living organisms.

Discovering a pearl by accident is considered a miracle since the process of creating one is implausible and uncommon. Regardless of how carefully pearls are cultivated, every single one of them has its distinct form, size, color, and pattern. Additionally, no two cultivated pearls are identical. They are more valuable and mysterious because of their intriguing uniqueness.

Pearls are a symbol of opulence due to their creamy and dazzling sheen. For generations, the necklines of the affluent and regal have been adorned with pearls, a type of gem admired for its unparalleled majesty.

When touched to the skin, their smoothness and pleasant texture are a welcome change from the harshness of crystal, metal, and glass. Pearls are the most enchanting gems because of the enchantment, beauty, and rarity they exude.

What Are the Ways to Tell If the Pearl is Real?

Ways to Tell If the Pearl is Real

You can check the authenticity of the pearl by performing various tests. Below are some tests you can try yourself to check the authenticity of the pearl:

Checking Surface Quality 

  • Examine the surface of the pearl using a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe with a magnification of ten times.
  • The surface of genuine pearls is characterized by the presence of microscopic uneven ridges, minute grooves, and delicate dots.
  • These very few flaws are evidence of the oyster’s inherent organic beginnings and growth mechanism.
  • Fake pearls often have an appearance that is too smooth, spherical, and lacking in complexion.

Tooth Test 

  • You should not have any dental treatment done and should gently massage the pearl on your natural tooth.
  • Genuine pearls have a granular or sandy texture, which creates a frictional feeling.
  • Grit is a characteristic of genuine pearls that is derived from the composition and structure of the nacre.
  • When placed on your teeth, fake pearls made of plastic and glass seem silky.

Checking the Luster

  • To determine the pearl’s reflected brightness, either hold it or shine a bright light on it.
  • Genuine pearls of superior grade have a luster that is radiant and transparent on the surface.
  • Nacre is composed of layers, each of which has acute reflective qualities.
  • Pearls that are fake or of poor quality and lackluster do not reflect light very effectively.

Fog Test

  • The pearl may be quickly warmed up by firmly rubbing it in the palms of your hands.
  • To facilitate the transmission of heat, firmly press the pearl against a cold glass.
  • Real pearls have a short-term capacity to hold heat, which results in light fogging on the glass.
  • Imitations can’t exhibit heat sensitivity and the ability to fog glass.

Verifying Weight 

  • Genuine pearls have a weight that is disproportionate to their size. This is because real pearls have nacre layers that are often denser and thicker.
  • Pearls should be weighed with great care using a kitchen scale or a jeweler’s scale.
  • Using the diameter as a basis, compare the weights to the established charts for natural pearls.
  • Pearls that are fake or hollow tend to feel lighter than one would anticipate.

Identifying Drill Holes

  • Real necklaces have drill holes that are uneven around the rims, and they have ridges that are there.
  • Make use of a 10x loupe to check for any little uneven lumps that may be present around the apertures.
  • To harvest actual pearls, hand drilling was used, which resulted in these uneven rims.
  • It is common for fake pearl drill holes to have a smoother and more uniform appearance in their construction.

Color Consistency

  • To get the most authentic hues, examine the strand in natural natural light.
  • Real pearls of high quality have a remarkable uniformity in both their color and their brightness.
  • Fake pearls typically have hues that are wildly inconsistent with one another.
  • The reals have synchronized subtleties, but there is some typical variance.

Porcelain Test

  • Gently stroke the pearl on the bottom rim of a porcelain dish that has not been glazed.
  • The structure of genuine pearls is porous, and they leave behind a very thin chalky stripe.
  • This porous property is not shown by porcelain, which is made of plastics and imitations.
  • Pearls should not be dragged to avoid scratching or otherwise harming them.

Flame Test

  • Keep the point of the hot flame from the lighter to the pearl for two to three seconds.
  • A stench similar to hair or burned plastic will be emitted by genuine pearls.
  • The stench of fake pearls is more similar to that of burning chemicals, or they do not release any odor.
  • However, pearls should not be exposed to flame for an excessive amount of time to prevent damage.

Pearl Scratch Test

  • Take a little pearl that is not strung in jewelry on a loose basis.
  • Over a rough ceramic surface, scrape the backside of the pearl gently.
  • A small powder residue will be seen on genuine pearls that are formed of nacre.
  • Considering that fakes do not have nacre layers, they will not scrape and leave powder behind.

Identify Circular Lines

  • Using a magnifying glass, examine the pearl that is the largest in the string.
  • Genuine pearls will often have a few faint circular lines around the center.
  • Natural growth rings may be seen inside genuine pearls, as shown by these lines.
  • Fakes and imitation pearls can’t have circular lines.

Reaction to Vinegar 

  • Place the pearl in a small basin, then cover it with white vinegar from the household.
  • After being soaked for five to ten minutes, remove and rinse the area.
  • In most cases, genuine pearls will not make any kind of reaction to a brief soak in vinegar.
  • The fakes may have bubbles, paint pouring, or disintegration if they are of low quality.

Related: Effective Methods To Tell If A Diamond Is Real or Fake

Best Guideline for Caring for Real Pearls

Best Guideline for Caring for Real Pearls

You can keep your pearls for a lifetime if you take proper care from time to time. But for that, you need to keep in the best shape. Our guidelines for caring for real pearls will help you to keep your real pearls for a lifetime, guaranteed.

Keep them away from Chemicals & Perfume

  • You should take precautions to prevent your pearls from coming into touch with any agents, like hairspray, perfume, chlorine, soap, or any other chemicals. Pearls can potentially absorb the chemicals, which might result in damage or discoloration.
  • Always apply perfume and cosmetics before putting on pearl jewelry.

Be careful when storing the pearls 

  • Never put pearl jewelry in a jewelry box that contains other types of jewelry, such as those that include harder metals and stones. Instead, store pearl jewelry in soft cotton bags or wraps. Storing pearl jewelry in soft cotton bags or wraps helps avoid scrapes and dents.
  • Always store pearls in a cool place since heat may cause the nacre to deteriorate over time. Find a place that is approximately room temperature and away from heat vents or windows exposed to direct sunlight.

Wear pearls cautiously 

  • When you are getting ready, put your pearls on last, and make sure that you do not spritz them with hair products after you have put them on.
  • Wear pearls with care as a physical touch can scratch or dull them. When brushing across abrasive surfaces, use caution.
  • If you are going to be moving about the house while wearing necklaces or bracelets, you should cover them with a soft cloth for additional safety.

Clean your pearls after wearing them properly

  • After wearing, remove any accumulated skin oils and scents from pearls by gently wiping them off with a soft, moist towel that is free of lint.
  • Do not use professional jewelry cleaners to clean pearls. The nacre layers are susceptible to injury or erosion from their compounds.
  • Soak the item in gently diluted, room-temperature water with a mild soap, then gently pat it dry with a towel.

Re-strung Pearls When Needed

  •  To ensure flexibility, string quality pearls tightly on silk or nylon thread instead of using metal chains. 
  • If silk cords exhibit obvious strain or fraying, carefully restring the pearls to minimize the loss of beads due to broken strings. This will minimize the loss of beads due to broken strings of pearls.
  • The process of re-stringing older necklaces helps to preserve their integrity and ensures that pearls continue to fit securely around the neckline.


How to know if the pearls are fake?

Some common ways to tell whether pearls are fake or not genuine include:

  • Not a single one of those microscopic ridges, grooves, or flaws that would show up under a microscope
  • Feels great on the skin and the teeth when brushed.
  •  Discordant hues that seem as if they were painted onto a string
  •  Relatively inexpensive pearl earrings set on friction backings
  • Despite their large diameter, they feel quite light when held in the hand.

How do jewelers professionally identify real pearls from fakes?

They have the following advanced equipment to test aspects such as:

  • Pearl composition analysis using X-ray fluorescence.
  • Exploring the growth rings inside genuine pearls with X-ray imaging.
  • Microscopes to detect biological surface marks and genuine nacre.

Can I identify real pearls with luster and sheen alone?

Pearls that are freshwater or saltwater have a more radiant sheen, although high luster may also be seen in costume or high-quality glass pearls. The authenticity of pearls made from oysters cannot be determined only by their sheen. Verify with further physical examinations in addition to sheen checks.


Untrained eyes may find it difficult to recognize real pearls by their appearance. Nevertheless, with the help of a jeweler’s loupe, some common household items, and the methods we explained, it becomes quite easy to tell genuine pearls from fakes. 

By doing these tests before you buy your next pearl, you can avoid making mistakes that will cost you a lot of money and feel confident about bringing home beautiful natural gemstones.