Distinguishing Real and Faux Pearls

A beautiful piece of real pearl jewellery is something that the whole family adores. A classic strand of pearls will be passed on from mother to daughter through generations. Pearls are many girls' real best friend. With the growing popularity of different types of pearls, it is useful to know how to tell the real pearls from faux pearls.

Real pearls are pearls that have either been naturally formed or cultured within an oyster shell, whether they are referred to as a sea pearls, natural pearls, freshwater pearls or cultured pearls. A faux pearl is generally understood to mean any sort of pearl-like bead that is made of something other than true nacre, be it plastic, glass or resin.

It is relatively easy to distinguish real pearls from faux pearls. Real pearls are generally heavier than faux pearls. They are cold to the touch and quickly adapt to the body's temperature when you wear them, as all natural gemstones do.

If you rub a real pearl against your teeth, it feels rough whereas a faux pearl feels smooth. If you rub two real pearls against each other with a little force, you will see a trace of powder appear on the surface. When you wipe this powder away, the pearl’s lustre is restored. If you rub faux pearls together, you will not see this powder, although you may damage the beads.

Because real pearls are formed naturally, they are not completely uniform in colour. Even AAA quality real pearls that look perfectly round and very smooth in lustre are not 100% immaculate if you examine them carefully enough. Faux pearls, a manufactured product, are usually completely regular and uniform in colour, although some faux pearls are also made to be irregular in order to seem more like real pearls.

So when you are shopping online, how can you tell you are investing in real pearls?

  • Try and buy from established sellers such as Jacqueline Shaw. Big pearl suppliers are reputable and easy to find.
  • Read the product specs carefully. An honest supplier will always include details such as whether they are natural, freshwater or shell pearls.
  • Make sure the seller offers a good returns policy and stands behind the product.
  • Ask around for personal recommendations from friends and family for online jewellers.
  • Do an online search for reviews of pearl jewellery sellers.
  • The price will give away faux pearls. If they look perfectly round and are sold for a price lower than £40 for a single strand necklace, then they are very likely to be faux pearls.