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Imitation Pearls - Faux Perles

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  • Imitation Pearls - Faux Perles

    Imitation Pearls Defined

    Imitation pearls are products elaborated to simulate the appearance of cultured or natural pearls, but do not possess same natural chemical composition or physical properties nor origin (a living organism) of cultured or natural pearls.
    A group of Imitation Pearls


    Imitation pearls are man-made or man-worked or faux perles, as they are known in the jewelry trade.


    Imitation Pearls are Manufactured in Factories

    Imitation pearls are artificial, manufactured "pearls". As such, they have no real value as a gemstone. Imitation pearls can be made from glass, ceramic, shell or even plastic. The bead is then coated with a different "lacquer" coating and/or other materials to produce a pearl-like luster and iridescence. Each company has its own "secret recipe" to produce their "pearl coating" (referred to as "pearlescence" by some or "essence des perles").

    This video by the "Majorica" brand explains the production of their faux perles:

    In the video you can see that they produce a glass bead and how they "dip" these glass beads in their "pearlescence" and finally polish them: no mollusk involved anywhere!

    These brands will exploit every reference to "pearls" as possible to make it possible for you to believe these are actual pearls. They usually employ terms such as "organic", "gems" and "marine" for this purpose.


    Imitation Pearls Must be Labeled as Such

    Imitation pearls are marketed under descriptive terms such as "faux", "semi-cultured", "simulated", "artificial", or "man-made." Sometimes regional names are also used: "Mallorca pearls", "Red Sea pearls", "Laguna pearls", etc.

    In the United States and many other countries, it is considered a deceptive trade practice to market imitation pearls without clearly identifying them as such.


    The Tooth Test to the Rescue!

    A common test to determine whether a pearl is a genuine or imitation, consists of scraping the pearl gently across one's upper front-teeth, from side to side.
    How to use the Tooth Test to examine Imitation Pearls


    Imitation pearls feel smooth, while genuine pearls feel slightly gritty due to the crystalline structure of the pearl's nacre.

    Take a Close Look!

    Imitation pearls can also be identified rather easily when inspecting them using a loupe or microscope. What are we looking for? The most easily discernible thing to look for are the "pearl's" drill hole.
    Different Imitation Pearl drill holes


    You see, real pearls (or mother-of-pearl) will display a clean-cut drill hole (unless there was a problem when drilling) and imitation pearls often display distinct kinds of drill holes: they may have "plastic shrapnel", they may be "bumpy" or "depressed", but they do not look like a real pearl's drill hole.

    The Truth always...Surfaces

    Imitation pearls are "pearl wannabes" but they cannot hide their true nature when inspecting them up close. Their surface is usually prone to "accidents" that are not common to pearls, such as:
    • Peeling - part of their lacquer or varnish just falls off.
    • Grainy surface - their surface appears "grainy" like the damaged exterior of a plastic-made article.
    Peeling- Black Mallorca Imitation Pearl


    On this photo you can see a "black" faux perle from the "Mallorca" brand, and you can admire both surface defects: the peeling coat of "pearlescence" and the grainy surface.



    Related Forum Threads:
    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-26-2021, 05:32 PM. Reason: Edited text and added images
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