How are real pearls created?
Real pearls are created by a protective function of mussels and snails, which is triggered by the animals to defend themselves against foreign bodies or parasites. However, very few mollusks produce pearls of nacre in the process, which is what makes the special mixture of lime and horn substance so desirable. Almost all pearls that are used today for the manufacture of jewelry are Cultured pearlswhich are bred in pearl farms.
Pearls are characterized by their size, shape, and especially by their luster. The luster describes the surface luster of a pearl and is considered one of the main criteria for determining the quality of a pearl. The color of pearls ranges from pink to orange-red to silver-gray, depending on the type of pearl. Besides South Sea Pearls and Tahitian pearls, which belong to the seawater pearls, there are also river and freshwater pearls.
Due to the popularity, rarity and high value of pearls, of course, there are many fakes.
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How can I recognize a real pearl?
The following characteristics and tests will show you how to tell a real pearl from a fake. To be sure that your jewelry is genuine pearls, be sure to use several of the following tests.
Friction test with beads
Another way to check the authenticity of a pearl is the so-called friction test. You can do this by rubbing the pearl either against your teeth or against another pearl. If the surface of the pearl feels slightly grainy or rough, it is a genuine pearl. Fakes, on the other hand, can be recognized by a perfectly smooth, textureless surface.
In addition, the bead should not give way when "biting". Only imitations made of plastic do this.
Bead friction test explanation video (English)
The shape of the pearl
Since pearls are a product of nature, each pearl differs from others, even if only in a tiny detail. Thus, most pearls are also not perfectly round, but slightly oval shaped or somewhat elongated. You can easily test this characteristic by rolling your pearl on a flat surface. If your pearl is not perfectly round, it will go off track and not roll straight.
Of course, it is also possible that a real pearl is perfectly round. However, this is extremely rare and increases the value of the pearl enormously.
As a natural product, most pearls have small flaws or impurities. You can distinguish genuine pearls from fakes, which are usually too perfect, by grooves or small scratches. Genuine pearls are also never identical. If all the pearls in your necklace look the same, it is almost certainly a fake.
Surface luster of the pearl
You can recognize a genuine pearl by the so-called luster, i.e. the surface luster of the pearl. High quality pearls have a clear luster. This means that the light reflection on the pearl surface is particularly strong. In this case, if you look closely, you can discover your reflection on the pearl.
But watch out: If you do not see your reflection, it does not mean that it is a fake. Consequently, pearls with a poorer quality do not have a particularly clear surface luster, but they are still genuine.
Drill hole for beads
Beads that decorate necklaces or bracelets usually have a drilled hole for the thread. Analyzing these drill holes, you can find other features that indicate the authenticity or falsification of a pearl.
Drilling through a real pearl leaves sharp, clear edges. The drill holes therefore look like a cylinder. In a fake pearl, on the other hand, the surface bends slightly outward or the edges of the drilled hole are rounded. Chipped paint and a damaged coating also indicate a fraudulent imitation pearl.
One of the authenticity features of pearls is their outer nacre layer. This is separated from the core, which is the interior of the pearl, by a clear boundary. By looking through the hole with a magnifying glass, you should be able to see this boundary. In a fake pearl, the nacre layer is only imitated and much thinner.