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How to Identify Real Pearls From Fake Pearls

Identify Real Pearls

Pearls are beautiful and valuable. But since the discovery of these rare gems in ancient times, people have been using machines to produce fake ones. So how can you tell if a pearl is real? Here are a few tips that can help you identify real pearls from the fake ones.


The first step you can take is to touch them and feel the temperature. Real pearls are cold to touch for the first couple of seconds before warming up against your skin. Fake plastic pearls have the same temperature as the room temperature and you don’t feel the coolness when you touch them. However, fake ones that are made of glass beads can be cool to touch to start with. But it tends to take them longer to warm up against your skin than real pearls.

Lustre, Surface Characteristics and Matching

When you examine real pearls closely or under magnification, you’ll notice tiny irregularities and ridges on each pearl’s surface. In a strand of cultured pearls, you can always see very tiny differences between them, even when they are top quality and well matched. If the pearls are completely perfect and identical in terms of shape, size, colour and surface characteristics, they are probably fake.

In addition, cultured pearls reflect light differently from the fake ones. The lustre of fake pearls has a glassy look and is unnatural.


Identify real pearls colour

Both natural and cultured pearls often have an overtone, a translucent colour that appears on the outer surface of a pearl. It is especially noticeable among irregularly shaped fine quality keshi pearls that are shown above. If you notice the pearls have only one uniform colour and are lack of depth, they are likely to be fake. But it’s worth noting that some real pearls have no overtone either. So this method alone cannot tell the authenticity of a pearl.


Most real pearls are rarely round. A pearl necklace strand that is perfectly round commands an extremely high price and is very rare.

Identify real pearls - shape

Surface Feel

Both natural and cultured pearls have textured surface due to their layered nacre structure. So when you rub the pearls lightly against each other or on your front teeth, they feel a little gritty. Fake or imitation pearls, however, usually feel smooth or glassy.


Real pearls are normally heavier than the fake ones.

Drill Holes

The drill holes in real pearls are usually very small whereas those in imitation pearls are often larger. Under magnification, the coating around the drill holes of fake pearls is normally thin and looks like a shiny paint. You can often see flakes or chipped coating around the drill holes that will eventually peel off.

It’s important to remember that all the methods above cannot be used alone to reach a conclusive judgment on whether or not a pearl is real. It’s always useful to combine several of these methods together to detect fake pearls. You can also have pearls tested in a gemological laboratory for a more conclusive result.

Your retailers should tell you whether the pearls you’re buying are real or fake. You should also be cautious when they tell you the pearls are natural. Natural pearls are formed without human intervention and are extremely rare and expensive.

At Pearl-Lang, we DO NOT sell imitation or fake pearls. All of our pearls are either freshwater or saltwater cultured pearls.

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