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  1. #1

    Default How to tell if late Grandmotherís pearls are real or fake

    I received Pearls handed down in the family but am not sure they are real. One is chipped and they appear to lack luster. I included a photo to assist. Can anyone tell mw what they think?
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  2. #2
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Hi Selincd1,
    They are imitation pearls. The coating is gone on that bare spot and you can see the bead, which is either glass (which would feel heavy enough that it might make you think the pearls are real) or plastic (which would be lightweight.)

    Other ways to know:
    • Excess coating near the drill hole (first photo)
    • Coarse surface (real nacre is very smooth looking at 10x magnification)
    • Large drill holes (pearls are sold by weight so real pearls tend to have small holes)
    • Lack of variation and overtones-- all the pearls look alike
    • If you rub one pearl gently against the edge of your front tooth-- or rub 2 of the pearls gently against each other-- fake pearls will glide smoothly while real pearls will be a bit gritty.

  3. #3
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Orlando, Florida, USA


    I agree, they look like imitations based on the drill hole, surface texture, and complete lack of any pearly orient, and the end caps next to the clasp. They are not very good imitations either.

    P.S. I agree with Pattye that if they are sentimental, you may want to restring the better ones with other beads into another necklace. I have my grandmother's fake pearls that I wear occasionally and think of her when I wear them.
    Last edited by BWeaves; 01-01-2019 at 12:32 PM.

  4. #4
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    Hi Selincd1,
    Welcome to the forum! Although these are not real cultured pearls, they may have great sentimental value to you. And if you are "crafty", you could salvage the ones which don't show damage and restring them yourself, perhaps mixing with some inexpensive glass or colored stones. We have instructions on how to knot pearls or you can also string on wire. Please consider joining us at Lowly Beaders' Club
    Last edited by pattye; 01-01-2019 at 01:18 AM.


  5. #5


    Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond. Happy New Year.

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