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Imitation Pearls


Imitation pearls are artificial pearls. They have no value as real pearl or gemstone.

They are machine made, they can be made from sea shell (mother of pearl), coral, glass, ceramic or even plastic. The beads are then coated with varnish and other materials in order to produce a pearl-like luster and iridescent.

South sea shell pearls are not real pearls produced by oysters. They are the imitation pearls for South Sea Pearls. Some people like them as these pearls are cheap. They are so much cheaper than the south sea pearls which would cost thousands for the same roundness and the appearance.

Below are some of the tips on how to distinguish real pearls from fake pearls:

  • A common test to determine whether a pearl is genuine or imitation is to scrap the pearl gently across one’s teeth. Imitation pearls feel smooth to the teeth, while genuine pearls feel slightly gritty or abrasive due to crystalline structure of the nacre.

  • Real pearl feels heavy to hold while imitation pearl should feel much lighter, unless they are made of glass beads.

  • If the pearls appear perfectly smooth surface and flawless, they are most likely imitation pearls. As most genuine pearls have at least minimal flaws and blemishes.

  • Real pearls have body color enriched by an overtone color. However, some pearls have very heavy overtones while some pearls have light overtones. Imitation pearls only have body color. Their colors look flat and lack depth.

  • You can see slight difference between each pearl in terms of size, overtones and surface quality when viewing real pearl strand under light. But for fake pearl strands, each pearl looks like the exact copy of another. Their surfaces look perfect.

  • Real pearls are cold when you touch them. But you won’t feel the coolness when touching fake pearls. They always have the same temperature as the room temperature.
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