Q:

How do you correctly identify real pearls?

A:

Quick Answer

Pearls are correctly identified by performing touch, visual and advanced tests. Touch tests involve checking for imperfections, temperature and weight and sometimes involve rubbing pearls against teeth and against other pearls. Visual tests check for light reflection, luster, overtones and drill hole condition. Advanced tests are performed by professionals and involve x-rays, refractometer testing, microscope surface testing and pearl appraisal.

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Full Answer

Glass and plastic pearls are smooth. Real pearls have a scaly texture. Take one or two pearls and gently rub them against the edge of your front teeth. Real pearls feel gritty. Make sure your teeth are clean to avoid false positives. Rubbing real pearls against each other produces friction and a powdery residue. Fake pearls slide off each other. Real pearls are cold for a few seconds and feel heavy for their size. Fake pearls are light and warm up quickly.

Perfectly round pearls occur rarely in nature. Roll a pearl on a flat surface. Real pearls have imperfections that prevent them from rolling in a straight line. Fake pearls are perfectly spherical, they have no dents and reflect light uniformly.

The drill hole in real pearls has sharp edges. The pearl is fake when the coating is thin and chipped around the drill hole.

The overtones found in real pearls are difficult to imitate, but some real pearls don't have overtones. Real pearls have a bright luster and are highly reflective, but low-quality real pearls are opaque. Overtone and luster testing must be accompanied by more advanced tests.

Real pearls look semitransparent gray in x-rays. Use a 64-power magnification microscope to check for a scaly pattern on the surface of real pearls. Consult an appraiser to authenticate the pearls and learn about their quality.

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