How to Tell if a Pearl is Real? Here Are Some Tips

How to tell if a pearl is real? These days, the market is full of counterfeits and imitations, especially in the gemstone business. The pearl industry is not an exception. Before, pearls were only found in the wild. This made pearls very rare. Today, technology makes fake pearls look remarkably real, which means that the probability of purchasing faux pearls is high.

Counterfeit pearl products change over time. An imitation pearl today may not have the same features as a counterfeit pearl a couple of years ago. Therefore, the best way to know how to tell if pearls are real is by knowing the features of an authentic pearl. So let’s learn how to tell if a pearl is real.

Here’s the best tip on how to tell if pearls are real:

The Tooth Test: Simply rub the pearl against your tooth, softly. If the pearl is natural or cultured, you will feel the surface as gritty. If the pearl is a faux gem, then the surface will feel smooth.

Real vs Fake Pearls
Image Source: Kajal Naina
Are freshwater pearls real?

Freshwater pearls are real, cultured pearls, grown in lakes, rivers, as well as ponds. Most Freshwater pearls are white and resemble Akoya pearls, but they also produce a variety of pastel shades, including pink, lilac and peach.

Are cultured pearls real?

Cultured pearls are genuine pearls, but they are formed with human intervention. The process involves inserting an irritant inside the mollusk. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is released to coat the irritant, later forming the pearl. Natural pearls are formed exclusively by nature and they are much more rare and valuable than cultured pearls.

Where do real pearls come from?

A natural pearl occurs in an oyster’s shell when an irritant, such as a grain of sand gets inside the oyster (or mollusk).

Tips How to Tell if a Pearl is Real or Fake:

Feeling the Pearl

Feel the pearl
Image Source: Pearl Paradise

The first and the easiest way to tell if a pearl is real is by feeling it. When you touch a real pearl, it feels cool and warms up when worn. Fake pearls feel warm, and can be sticky when felt with fingers. A natural pearl has a unique weight. Counterfeits may have a weight that is ridiculously small or an exaggerated heavyweight.

Real pearls come in different sizes and shapes, unlike the counterfeit ones that come in basically one-size-and-shape-fits-all. A quick trick on how to tell real pearls is to observe the genuine pearls’ ability to reflect light – unlike the imitations, which have no reflection capabilities.


The most common misconception about real pearls is that they are extremely expensive, which is why some choose imitations over cultured pearls. But gorgeous gems like Freshwater Pearls make stunning jewelry pieces such as timeless stud earrings, single pearl necklaces or pearl dangle earrings, complete with very attractive price tags.

How to Tell Real Pearls: The Luster of Real Pearls VS Fake Pearls

Another way of telling whether a pearl is real is by checking its luster. A real pearl has a unique pearl luster and a natural, rough feel. This is because it has small ridges on its surface. These ridges may not be visible to the naked eye. However, experts and jewelers can check the “natural flaws” in a pearl using a magnifying object.

In real pearls, these same ridges can be felt using the teeth. However, testing with the teeth is not accepted by many retailers.

How Can You Tell if Pearls Are Real: Rubbing Two Pearls Together

When a real pearl is rubbed against another real pearl, a pearl powder is produced. The same effect is seen if a real pearl is lightly scrubbed using a knife. If two fake pearls are rubbed against each other, the process is smooth, and no powder is produced.

Knock two real pearls against each other, and a soft and unique sound is produced.  When counterfeit pearls are knocked together, the sound that is produced is very slight.

How to Tell Real Pearls: Using Fire to Test Pearl Authenticity

Another method anyone can use to learn how to tell if pearls are real is a naked flame. When you burn a real pearl mildly, the pearl remains shiny, intact and produces no odor. If the flame is consistent for about 2 minutes, the pearl produces a pop sound. A counterfeit pearl coming across a naked fire will produce a bad odor, and it loses its luster.

There are special chemical methods that can be used to find out if a pearl is real. A genuine pearl has a relative density of 2.73 and dissolves in hydrochloric acid. Counterfeit pearls don’t react to hydrochloric acid. An authentic pearl is not affected by acetone solution. However, a counterfeit one loses its luster totally when acetone is used.

And there you have it: your quick guide on how to tell if a pearl is real! Next up: enjoy a successful shopping spree and enjoy your stunning new gems of the seas!


If exquisite luster is what you’re after, then Hanadama Pearl Jewelry is here to cater to your needs. Discover our mesmerizingly lustrous collection of Hanadama Pearl Jewelry, featuring pearl necklaces, pearl bracelets, earrings and pearl sets that impress through quality, craftmanship and unmatched luster.

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