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How to Tell If a Pearl Is Real

Don’t be fooled at – find out if you're looking at the genuine article.


  • Step 1: Use your teeth Scrape the pearl across your front teeth. Real pearls typically feel gritty or slightly rough, while fakes will likely feel smooth.
  • Step 2: Test for friction Rub one pearl against another lightly. If you feel a sandy friction, then they are probably real.
  • Step 3: Magnify them Using a magnifying glass or a jeweler's loupe, examine the pearl’s surface. Real pearls look scaly; imitations look grainy.
  • Step 4: Check for flaws Check for flaws in the surface and shape of the pearl. Real pearls usually have imperfections.
  • TIP: Look at a strand of pearls carefully. If the pearls seem uniform in size, color, or shape, it is likely the pearls are not real.
  • Step 5: Perform a sunlight test Take the pearls into the sunlight or hold them under bright lights. Real pearls will reveal a colorful luster that shifts as they move.
  • Step 6: X-ray the pearl Have the pearls x-rayed by a jewelry expert. This may cost you, but knowing for sure may be worth it.
  • FACT: Did you know? It may take as long as six years before a cultured pearl is ready to harvest.

You Will Need

  • Teeth
  • Another pearl
  • A magnifying glass
  • A jeweler's loupe
  • Sunlight or bright lights
  • Professional jeweler

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