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Mention the word "pearls" and you'll probably get hit with visions of your grandma's string of white. True, they're major glam for the right (boring) occasion; but when it comes to "wow" they can't compare to the serious fierce factor of black pearls. But buyer beware! Just because it's round and black doesn't mean that it's the real deal. Learn to tell the difference between the genuine thing and a not-so-fab fake.
Hold the pearls in the palm of your hand. When it comes to pearls, heavy is a good thing, so pay attention to how they feel when you hold them. If they're real they'll feel heavy in your hand (not too heavy, though -- be realistic -- it is just a pearl), but if they're phony they'll feel incredibly light.
Give the pearl a good rubdown. No, you're not rubbing it just for the heck of it, you're looking for drilled holes, especially if the pearls are meant for a type of connecting jewelry like a necklace or a chain bracelet. If the holes feel bumpy instead of smooth, then there's a problem, and the pearls are probably not real.
Hold the pearl up to the light and look at the pretty colors. You've got an eye for pretty, so go ahead and put it to good use. When it comes to color, the more complex it is, the more likely it is that you're pearl is actually what it claims to be. Black pearls have awesome undertones of many colors, including eggplant, gray, magenta, green and blue. Fakes, on the other hand, will be boring, with one flat color (basically they'll be ugly when compared to the real thing).
Give your pearl a gentle caress -- against your cheek, that is. A real black pearl will give you the cold shoulder and feel that way against your skin (until it naturally warms up to you and your body heat, that is). Faux black pearls won't feel cold at all, especially if you're buying them indoors. Sneaky copycats that they are, they'll quickly mimic the temperature of the air that's around them.
Rub the pearl against your teeth -- just make sure no one's watching. Okay, this looks a bit crazy, but how the black pearl feels against your pearly whites will tell the tale and will be a dead giveaway. Real pearls will feel grainy against your teeth, while the plastic or glass ones are just too smooth.
Take the pearl to a jeweler who can examine it with a 10x lens. This is, of course, easier to do if you actually own a black pearl and want to find out if you've been bamboozled into buying a fake. Imitation black pearls will have a bubbly appearance beneath the surface that the real thing will not.