How to Tell the Difference Between Real & Fake Pearls

Pearl Strands image by Rainstorm Designs from

Pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings make a business-casual outfit look more formal or provide a classic finishing touch to a cocktail dress. The versatility of this accessory has translated into a higher demand for faux or "fake" versions of the real thing. The problem with fake pearls is that they look nearly identical to their real counterparts. In fact, usually the only blatantly noticeable difference is the price. If you are in the market for real pearl accessories, there are a few tests that you can perform to prevent yourself from getting ripped off.

Examine the size of the pearls. Real pearls will vary in size somewhat. Pearls are created in nature; therefore, much like how no two leaves on a tree are identical, no two pearls will be perfectly uniform in size.

Examine the shape or "roundness" of the pearl. Most pearls appear to be fairly round. In reality, though, most pearls have subtle imperfections, small bumps or will be slightly lopsided. If all of the pearls on a strand are perfectly round and do not exhibit even the slightest imperfections, they are probably fake.

Rub the pearl against one of your teeth to perform the "tooth check" test. Many jewelers won't let you perform this test in a jewelry store. If the texture feels very smooth or slippery, chances are good that the "pearl" is actually glass, plastic, shell or stone. Pearls should have a grainy texture similar to sand.