Buying good pearls in person is about more than just finding a pale orb with a pretty color.
You need to make sure that what you’re paying matches the quality of what you’re getting. You’ll get better value when you verify whether your pearl is real or imitation. That’s the first step.
But as anyone who’s ever tried telling real from imitation jewelery can tell you, it isn’t always easy to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Sometimes you need an easy-to-remember benchmark to help.
So here are 5 insider tips that can fast-track your path to pearls you love and feel proud of.
1. Check Your Pearl With Your Teeth!
Human beings still haven’t figured out how to reproduce the oyster’s expertise!
An easy method of checking whether your pearl is real or not is to take it and gently rub it against a tooth! As it turns out, if it’s real, you should feel a slightly gritty or sandy feeling when you do so. Imitations made of glass, plastic, etc will feel seamlessly smooth when rubbed together.
If you’re buying more than one pearl at a time, like in a string, you can rub the two pearls together to feel the same thing.
If you’re not sure if your pearl is real, check your teeth!
2. Look At The Pearl A Bit Closer
Remember that pearls are made by living creatures in changing circumstances. That’s a big part of the appeal!
True pearls will show their personality in a unique way nearly 100% of the time. It could be a small dimple or a difference in the color of the gem or the luster. There may even be minor blemishes and all of these, just as with human beings, add a certain character to the piece.
On the other hand, imitations will almost invariably look ‘perfect’ as if they’d undergone ‘plastic’ surgery. You’ll notice it in every regard. The bright reflections, spotless surface, identical color match.
If all of the pearls in your strand are trying to fit in and look exactly the same, they’re probably fake.
A pearl should stand out! Don’t settle for the plastic stuff!
3. Check Your Pearl’s Temperature
Here’s something you may not have known about pearls.
I mean, yes, they’re cool. But cool as in cool to the touch. Place your pearl on the back of your hand or lift it up to your cheek. At room temperature, the surface of a genuine pearl, coming from a living sea animal, will feel cool against your skin.
Plastic, on the other hand, will feel warm to the touch when you’re at room temperature.
Real pearls are cool. The plastic stuff just can’t copy it.
4. Put Your Pearl On A Scale
Have any pearl expert friends handy?
This is a tip that might be the most useful with another friend who’s experienced with pearls.
Actual pearls have a particular weight to them that a pearl dealer would recognize. Plastic beads will be noticeably lighter than them and glass beads will be significantly heavier.
For reference, a 7.5 millimeter pearl would weigh about 3/5 of a gram if it were real. Getting someone familiar with pearls to check this out for you is a good option.
Alternatively, if you already have pearls that you know are real, compare the two weights to see how they match up.
Are neither of those options? The other verification methods will do just fine!
A real pearl is like goldilocks. It has to weigh just right.
5. Look Past The Pearls
As it turns out, it’s actually written law that genuine pearls must be described as “natural” or “cultured” pearls.
If a pearl is a fake, it has to be described as “imitation” or “simulated.”
Be on the look out for this:
Pull out the magnifying glass and read the small print on the advertisement or on the counter card to look for any of those four words. You want to see them before you make any purchase. If you don’t, this should immediately raise your suspicion. They may be trying to sell you a fake at the price of a true piece.
Check for this to know if your pearls are real!
Is there another tip I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the post with the best ideas (and a link crediting you)!