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How To Tell If Pearls Are Real?

Pearls are a beautiful and easy way to make even the most simple ensemble look classier and more put together. Depending on the occasion, you can wear something as simple as a small set of pearl earrings to a full, elegant string of pearls.

 In the world of pearls, there are two choices: real pearls, and fake pearls. 

While the fakes might look convincing from far away, there really is no substitute for real pearls. How can you tell if pearls are real?

How To Tell If Pearls Are Real? 

First, you need to know the difference between real and fake pearls:

  • Real pearls- A real pearl has to come from an oyster. It can be a freshwater or saltwater oyster, farmed or wild caught, but as long as it comes from a living oyster it is considered a real pearl. 
  • Fake pearl- A fake pearl is made to resemble a real pearl but is instead made of plastic, glass, alabaster, or even seashell.

Now that you know the difference, how do you tell the two apart? The best way to tell if pearls are real is to look at appearance, temperature, grittiness, and the weight. 


Quality fake pearls can look nearly identical to real pearls, but if you look closely, there are some differences that can be detected. 

First and foremost, real pearls will never be completely identical to one another. Look for irregularities between the pearls; if they are all exactly the same, they may be fake. 

Expensive real pearls will be matched to be as close in size to one another as possible, but they will still have at least some variation. 

Color is also different between real and fake pearls. Real pearls will have a natural luster that can be shades of pink or green. Fake pearls will look more glassy or plastic. 


Since real pearls are the product of a natural oyster, they will be cold when you first touch them, but after a minute or so of wear they will warm to your body temperature. Fake pearls will stay at room temperature. 


Real pearls may feel smooth on your skin, but if you rub them against your teeth, there is a slight grittiness that isn’t replicable in fake pearls. The grittiness test is often the best test for real versus fake pearls. 


Testing the weight of pearls works well to tell real pearls from cheap fake pearls, but solid glass fake pearls have made this test less accurate. This is because, while real pearls are heavier than hollow glass, plastic, or shell fake pearls, solid glass fake pearls are heavier than all other pearls, including real ones!

You can check the weight of pearls by hefting them in your palm a few times. Real pearls are surprisingly dense and heavy, so if your pearls don’t feel like cheaper costume jewelry weight-wise, it’s worth trying something else like the grittiness test to see if your pearls are the real thing!

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