How to Differentiate Between Real Pearls and Faux Pearls

No longer saved for special occasions, pearls are now the latest jewellery trend. When you purchase a set of pearls, you want to make sure you are buying a quality piece to last. With so many pearls in the market, can you distinguish between a genuine, real pearl and manufactured faux pearl? We help you break down the differences so that you can distinguish between them.


What is a real pearl?

A real pearl is formed when an irritant has become logged in the tissue of an oyster or a mollusc. In response, the oyster secretes nacre which builds layers over the irritant over numerous years to form a pearl. The shape, colour and type of real pearl are determined by the natural pigment of the nacre and the form of the original irritant.

For natural pearls, the irritant is from nature and embedded by chance. In comparison, the cultured pearl formation process has begun as a result of human interference by inserting an irritant into the oyster.


What is an imitation pearl or a faux pearl?

An imitation pearl is usually glass or plastic moulded to resemble the organic shape of a pearl. Whether it be a classic round, larger baroque or organic circlè, man-made, faux pearls are readily available in the market. The glass or plastic is coated to give a lustrous finish to resemble a real pearl. Faux pearls are usually available in a variety of colours to resemble the colours and lustre of real pearls.


What is the difference between real pearls & faux pearls?

Real pearls have an organic shape because they are formed naturally. How the layers mould around the original irritant will determine the shape of the pearl. On the contrary, manufactured faux pearls are man-made and usually perfectly spherical, which is very rare amongst natural pearls.

The colour of real pearls is natural and derived from the inner layers of the oyster from which it grows. Therefore, they can retain their colour and bright, shiny lustre. Whereas, the outer coating of faux pearls can peel and scratch over time, removing the top layer of artificial colour.

The surface of real pearls is not perfectly smooth. Naturally, there are some slight imperfections as a result of the formation process inside the oyster or mollusc and crystalline structure. On the other hand, faux pearls are almost too good to be true with a perfectly smooth surface and no imperfections. A pearl with no imperfections is an extreme rarity amongst natural and cultured pearls.

Should I buy real pearls or imitation pearls?

Pearls are timeless jewellery essentials for every woman’s jewellery box. If planning to buy pearls to stand the test of time, it would be best to invest in a classic suite of real pearls. Real pearls will last continual wear, maintain their lustre and be unique in shape and size. Investing in real pearls will ensure you have a one of a kind, quality piece to last many years to come.


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