How to distinguish real pearls from fakes

pearls how to distinguish real from fake the beauty

Pearl jewelry began to be made in the distant past. Earlier, earrings, necklaces and bracelets were in good demand. But even now, in specialized stores you can buy pearl jewelry. However, like any jewel, it very often becomes an object for fakes. Let's look at all the nuances.

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Natural pearls in the shell

Which pearl is considered the most valuable, other types

According to its type of origin, it is divided into 3 types:

  1. River and sea.
  2. Cultured.
  3. Artificial - imitation, painting of ordinary beads. It is used in the manufacture of cheap jewelry - bijouterie.

Read also: Pandora bracelet original or fake? How to determine in 5 minutes

Sea or river pearls are completely natural. It is formed in the wild, that is, natural conditions. A person does not participate in its formation, but only collects, selects, purifies for further use.

Natural (wild) river and sea are rarely sold in stores. It can be purchased at auctions or from individuals as pure material or decorations.

Natural pearls in the shell

To find one natural and even pearl, it is necessary to open several tens or even hundreds of mollusk shells. The extraction of sea or river is expensive and poorly paid off. Therefore, jewelry is rarely made from it and sold in specialized stores.

Read also: how to determine silver at home for authenticity

Therefore, for the production of jewelry, jewelry is grown in special reservoirs using mollusks and shells. For this, special conditions are created in artificial reservoirs, close to natural ones.

Cultured pearls are grown in shells. But, the form of a pearl is set by a person. A ball is placed inside the oyster around which the formation begins. Such balls can be placed up to 20 pieces in one oyster, depending on its size.

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How pearls are grown

Types of pearls in jewelry

In jewelry stores, you can often find cultivated or grown in special reservoirs. It is specially grown for the manufacture of jewelry, but is not mined in the open seas.

Read also: how to test gold at home – 12 ways

We sell jewelry made of the following types of pearls:

  1. Black Tahitian.
  2. Hemispherical.
  3. South seas.
  4. Freshwater river.
  5. Akoya.
  6. Baroque.

Types of pearls by shape and color

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Black Tahitian is grown inside the shells of Pinctada margaritifera molluscs. It is the only black pearl that is natural. The rest is black - painted. It grows faster than other species. It is grown in Tahiti.

Read also: How to distinguish a diamond from forgery

Black Tahitian pearl

If you see black pearl jewelry at a low price or the same as the rest on the store counter, it is a fake. Most likely it is dyed or artificial.

Real and imitation black pearls

Hemispherical pearl is a half of the ball. It is grown in Japan, China and the USA. It grows on the shell itself, and not inside it. Therefore, it has a peculiar form.

Hemispheres are used to make rings, earrings, bracelets and pendants. It is used where the flat part is not visible and there is no need for a whole sphere.

Hemispherical pearls are the most common and sold. It is cheaper than other types.

hemispherical pearl

Pearls of the southern seas are larger than other species. They are called "Queen". The Pinctada maxima shells themselves can reach up to 35 cm in length and weigh up to 5 kg. Therefore, the pearls themselves grow large, and it takes up to 3 years to cultivate them.

South Sea Pearls and Imitation

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South Sea pearls are grown in the waters of Indonesia, Australia, and the Philippines. Their diameter can be 10-20 mm. In shape, it is as follows: round, oval, teardrop, baroque. The color can be white, golden, blue. Golden is more expensive than the rest and is less common on sale.



Extra Large

12 mm

10 mm


7-8 mm

5 mm

Read also: Sultanite natural – what does it look like? Checking for authenticity

golden pearl

Sea pearls of the southern seas are the most expensive in value. It may have a price higher than Tahitian or the same, depending on the diameter. It cannot cost less than a hemispherical one!

Sea pearls of the southern seas

Read also: how to test amber for authenticity at home

Which pearl is better - sea or river?

Freshwater river is grown in former rice fields in China. Farmers control the water parameters and also turn the pearls over so that they do not turn out “one-sided”. In the process of cultivation, a person controls only the conditions for growth and shape, but does not “build up” mother-of-pearl itself on balls and other materials.

Cultured river pearls look brighter than sea pearls, as they have a thicker layer of mother-of-pearl. This phenomenon is associated with the introduction of a seed nucleus into mollusks.

Its colors, sizes and shapes are varied. In this regard, it is popular and in demand.

Fresh water costs less than sea water. In the process of cultivation, 20-30 pearls can fit in its shell, and usually only one in the sea.

pearl jewelry

The Akoya pearl is a "classic". Often found jewelry from it in jewelry stores. Most of it is grown and collected in Japan on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, Ago Bay. It is also grown in Vietnam and China.

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Akoya pearls are spherical in shape and 2-10 mm in diameter. In color it is cream, silver, pink, pale yellow, with a green-black tint.

Read also: Natural sapphire – what does it look like? Checking the stone for authenticity

Pearls of Akoya

The "Baroque" type has bizarre and irregular shapes. It can be marine or freshwater.

baroque pearls

Would you like to buy real pearl jewelry?

How to distinguish real pearls from fake?

In order not to accidentally buy a fake in the form of jewelry, you need to be able to distinguish natural and cultured pearls from simply sprayed beads.

In total, there are at least 10 ways to distinguish real pearls from artificial ones!

You can identify a fake:

  1. On your own in the store.
  2. Independently at home.
  3. With the help of a specialist and equipment.

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We determine the authenticity of pearls in the store

Method number 1. The cost of real beads

Pay attention to the price. Only jewelry is sold at a low cost. But a high price is also not always an indicator of the authenticity of pearls.

Beads made of the least valuable white gems of irregular shape will cost several thousand rubles. For cultivated stones of a round shape with a diameter of 15 mm, you will have to pay from 2 thousand dollars.

The price is affected by the color, diameter, origin, brilliance of the pearl.

The cost also depends on the quality of the surface. Therefore, the price varies greatly. On sale, products with natural pearls cost from 15 $ to 100,000 $. At auctions, some pearls sell for millions of evergreens.

The price of real pearls and fakes

Method number 2. How much does a real pearl weigh

Weighing pearls

Natural weighs more than artificial. This is due to the fact that inside the real one is mother of pearl, and the fake one is plastic, artificial stone or other light material. The weight of the pearl in the hand is felt, it cannot be practically "weightless" even with a small size.

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Method number 3. Compare each pearl by shape in a necklace or bracelet

Each pearl has an individual shape. Even if they are all spherical, they still have a slight difference from each other and peculiar defects, no matter how carefully they were carefully selected by professionals during the assembly of the jewelry.

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pearl shape

If they are all perfectly even and exactly the same, without the smallest natural flaws, then the necklace or bracelet is made of artificial pearls!

Differences between natural and artificial pearls

Even in the most expensive jewelry, it is impossible to use exactly the same pearls. They will have slight differences from each other and peculiar defects.

If all the beads are perfectly even, exactly the same and without minor natural flaws, then the decoration is definitely with artificial stones.

Method number 4. Gloss check

Shine of a real pearl

This mineral has a deep and uniform luster. If it is dull or uneven, then it is fake or simply poorly cultivated. A real gem has a deep and even overflow. Fake and poorly cultivated gems have no brilliance. They are usually dull and unattractive. Jewelry from this is better not to buy.

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Method number 5. The surface of the pearl at the drilling site

Another way to distinguish artificial pearls from fakes is to look with a magnifying glass. It is important to check the edges around the holes. There should be no visible scratches on the paint. Under a magnifying glass, a real pearl can only see a homogeneous mother-of-pearl. In fakes, when approaching, specks of dye and smudges are clearly distinguishable. To do this, just look at the bead through a 10x magnifying glass.

Inspection of pearls through a magnifying glass


Holes on pearls, if it is a necklace, bracelet, pendant earrings, should be even. There are no chips or cracks around them. If there are any - in front of you is a fake, painted one.

Holes in pearls

Pearls are recommended to be viewed under the rays of the sun. This method is well applied in the street market. Natural stones will shimmer with a pale blue tint. You can see the core of the fake. They shine greenish or pinkish.

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We determine the authenticity at home

Method number 6. sound test

If a pearl is passed over the teeth, it will make a creaking sound, but a fake one will not.

How to test natural pearls

Mother-of-pearl has low thermal conductivity, that is, it heats up very slowly. Thanks to this, the beads remain cold for a long time even when they touch human skin. Plastic jewelry heats up quickly from body heat. This is not the most accurate way to distinguish real pearls from fakes, as it is very subjective.

Method number 7. Fall and hit

A scattering of real pearls

If there are individual pearls, and not a piece of jewelry, then you can conduct a test - drop one of them from a height of about 0.5 meters.

The real bounces when hitting a horizontal surface like a ball. And the artificial one just rolls.

Method number 8. Friction

In a necklace, you can rub one mineral against another with a little pressure. Small particles of pearl powder and scratches should form. These scratches can be easily repaired by rubbing the surface with your fingers.

How to remove scratches from pearls

If the mineral is artificial, then the powder will not appear, and the scratches cannot be eliminated, since the layer of mother-of-pearl paint will be erased and an ordinary bead will remain - an artificial core.

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Mother-of-pearl is a dense substance with low hardness, which is up to 4 Mohs units. Therefore, the gemstone is easily damaged. To do this, just scratch it with a knife.

Scratching a pearl with a knife

In the original, when exposed to a knife, a thin layer of mother-of-pearl will begin to be removed. It will be like a powder. A fake will have chipped paint and an artificial core will be exposed.

After scratching with a knife, wipe the surface with your finger. All damage on real mother-of-pearl will disappear and it will return to its original appearance. For a fake, all scratches and chipped paint will remain in place.

All scratches on real pearls are easily repaired

Method number 9. chemical test

Natural pearls

Place the pearl in acetone. Real will not dissolve in acetone, only artificial.

Vinegar testing destroys real pearls. Therefore, it is worth resorting to it only after removing one pebble from the beads.

Plastic fake will not react with vinegar. The advantage of this method is the ability to identify cultured pearls. After dissolving the mother-of-pearl layer, its core will become visible.

Chemical way to check pearls

Professional Authentication

Method number 10. Hike to a specialist

Jeweler examining a pearl

To verify the authenticity of already purchased, inherited pearls or products made from it, you can seek the help of a specialist. He will make the final answer and description.

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Additional verification methods

Information on the tag

Natural pearls are always accompanied by a quality certificate. It must be asked from the seller before making a purchase. The certificate of quality is an additional guarantee of the natural origin of the precious stone.


It is harmless to shine ultraviolet light on pearls. Natural stone gives a bluish glow, and artificial - green. Some fakes do not react to UV rays at all. A special flashlight or a device for checking banknotes can serve as a source of ultraviolet radiation.


Natural pearls are not afraid of fire. It can be brought into the flame for a couple of minutes. Fake glass in this case will crack, and plastic jewelry will melt.

How to distinguish cultured pearls

Cultured pearls

Cultured pearls are not literally fake, unless they try to sell them for the price of a wild stone.

It is created under artificial conditions, under which the mollusk actively produces mother-of-pearl. To do this, a foreign body is placed in the shell, which acts as a seed nucleus.

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An x-ray will help distinguish natural pearls from cultured ones. With it, you can see the structure of the mineral. The picture shows the presence of the core, the density and the number of layers. The disadvantage of this method is that as a result of X-ray irradiation, the jewelry may change color.

Bright light

Natural pearls in bright light

A safer way to identify cultured pearls is to view the stone in bright light. For this, it is convenient to use an ovoscope. Shining through a bead with bright light, you can see the presence of a seed nucleus in it.

How to distinguish a real pearl from a fake video

What jewelry do you like the most?
With precious stones
from wood
Jewelry made by hand
Natural pearl jewelry
Voted: 58

What to do if you sold a fake?

Where to go if you sold a fake?


Andrey Kozhevnikov

Blog author. 7 years of experience as a Merchandiser. Specialist in the definition of quality products. Distinguished more than 5,000 fake goods. My motto: there is no limit to perfection!

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Add a comment

  1. Victor

    They do not have to be all equal as one, this is the difference

  2. Konstantin

    I brought such a long time ago to my mother from the Baltic states, I checked it now with the article - she has original ones! Used to do things without fakes

  3. Lidia.S

    Thanks for the science. And I kept wondering what kind of pearls I have - real or not? Now I can accurately determine. Mercy!!!

  4. Lidia.S

    Thanks for the article. I didn’t know how to distinguish the real one from the artificial one. Now I can determine what I have. Mercy !!!

  5. Tatyana

    Live and learn. It's good that there is a lot of information about such things.
    It is not always possible to figure it out on your own without advice and tips from a specialist.
    and such articles are very helpful.

  6. Michael

    Pearls are a miracle of nature, which not only has a beautiful appearance, but is also used in folk medicine as a healing agent. Buying a pearl necklace for your beautiful half is the very thing, but you need to check for authenticity, it seems to me that the impact test and acetone are the most acceptable.

  7. Marina

    Pearls are very beautiful and delicate. I have beads but I was not sure of the authenticity, now I will check according to the advice from the article.