How to Tell if Pearls Are Genuine

Natalie Portman looks elegant with a stand of black pearls around her neck.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Those gorgeous pearls meant true love, right? Then that oh-so-special "pearl essence" began chipping off the glass beads and someone got a surprise. Don't let fake pearls fool you, girlfriend -- use your rock-solid fashionista sense to tell if pearls are genuine. Put those pearls to the test and make sure you have the real deal around your neck.

1.

Check out your pearls under a hand-held magnifier. Do they look grainy? If so, they're not real. If they look like a maze with small lines over the surface, they're the real thing.

2.

Look at them closely -- in bright, natural light, if possible. If they look too perfect, they're not honest pearls. Real pearls won't be perfect -- you'll see tiny flaws that make them all a little different from the rest. Those little ridges and bumps are good -- they indicate you have real pearls. If you have a string of pearls, look at the entire necklace. Real pearls will all look a little different -- different sizes, colors and shapes. Fake ones will all look exactly the same.

3.

Use your teeth. Take a pearl and rub it gently along the bottom edge of a top front tooth. Does it feel rough and gritty? Then it's real. If it's smooth, it's probably a fake.

4.

Rub two pearls together gently. Here again, you should feel grittiness in the surface of the pearls. Too smooth and they're probably not genuine pearls.

5.

Take a peep at the drill hole because you can get an idea about the thickness of the nacre coating. When you look at the drill hole of a real pearl, you might see a line where the nacre and the nucleus join. You won't see this with a fake.

6.

Got knots? Most strands of real pearls have a knot between each pearl to keep them from rubbing up against each other. A knotted pearl necklace will also keep you from losing all your precious pearls if your strand breaks.

7.

Hold them in your hand to see how they feel. Do they warm quickly as you hold them? Real pearls will warm more quickly than glass fakes. Be careful though -- if they warm instantly, they could be plastic. Fake pearls will be lighter than real pearls, too.

8.

If you're still not sure, take your pearls to a jeweler for appraisal.

Things You'll Need

 

1.Hand-held magnifier, 64-power

 

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