Strings of pearls were very fashionable and desirable a few decades ago and their appeal is timeless. But how can you tell if your inherited pearl jewellery is real or imitation? Read on for a quick guide on how to tell the difference.
How to identify real pearls
There are some 'dead giveaways' to look out for when trying to decide if your pearls are real.
- The first thing to look for is imperfections in the pearls. Real pearls are cultured naturally, meaning that they are always not perfectly round in shape and also often have small indentations on the surface. If your pearls look absolutely perfect, they're probably not real.
- Real pearls are usually cream-coloured. Imitation pearls are very often either yellowish-coloured or even pink in shade. If your pearls are brilliantly white, they're almost bound to be fakes.
- Fake pearls are often made from plastic or resin and will feel quite light in weight. By contrast, real pearls are quite heavy, and a full string can be a pretty weighty object.
- Genuine pearls will be strung on silken thread. If your pearls are threaded on plain cotton or wire, they are more likely fake than real. The other thing to look out for is that there should be knots in between each pearl. This was done to prevent the pearls from rubbing together and breaking.
- Valuable jewellery will not have a cheap metal clasp or setting. Look to see that the clasp on your pearls is made from solid gold (it should bear a small hallmark on the back).
- The size of the pearls can also be a giveaway as to their veracity, as traditionally, pearls were quite small. If your piece has huge pearls, they are probably not real.
One way to check if your pearls are real is the 'tooth test'. Real pearls are crystalline in structure. Consequently, if you gently rub a genuine pearl on the edge of one of your upper front teeth, it will feel rough and gritty; fake pearls will feel smooth.
If you are still unsure that your pearls are real, you can take them to a jeweller for authentication and valuation. An experienced valuer will be able to value your pearls based on their age, quality and the number of pearls in the string.
You can take steps to verifying the authenticity of your inherited pearls by going through the steps outlined above. If your inherited pearls are indeed genuine and you decide to sell them, you might get the best price by selling them through a specialist jewellery auction.