About pearls. How to verify the quality of pearl, and check it’s genuine

Actually there is a hidden agenda, with this intrigue "real / not real". Chimera of brand blinds customers, and helps manufacturers discreetly cheat buyers, counterintuitive – with theirs, the buyers, silent assent! Thus simulations are played off the genuine pearls.

Very often manufacturers “camouflage” simulated pearls under the brand names. For example: Swarovski Pearls, Mallorca Pearls, Misaki X-treme Lustre Pearls. Actually, such brands so firmly embedded in everyday life that nobody can believe that Majorca pearls are pearls from oyster, but just imitation. Moreover, the buyer gets into the trap not only because of use the word "pearl", but also the estimating the cost of such goods. It’s hard to realize that the quoted high price is asked for simulation, not for a gemstone. Therefore, when determining the validity of pearls do not to pay attention to the brand names - Yes here, the ring of Cardin! - or place of origin -  it’s stated – Japanese etc. Be followed only by knowledge and / or experienced specialist. To be yourself expert, please use the information below.

Pearls are apprised by four main values:

1. Shape
2. Size
3. Surface
4. Lustre

The price of pearls depends on its symmetry; the pearl can be in the form of buttons, drop, or oval - if the stone is symmetrical in at least one axis, it can easily be used in jewellery. Of course, the most valuable pearls are perfectly round pearls. However, baroque pearls - completely irregular shape - can be used as well due to their uniqueness and originality. Besides the prices for baroque pearls are significantly less. For example, necklace of baroque pearls 9-11 mm costs 5-10 times cheaper than necklace assembled with round pearls similar size.
If you see perfectly round pearls, think about its genuineness. Simulations are usually round. However, nowadays you can see uncommon simulated baroque pearls as well.

This point is clear: the larger pearl, the higher the price. For getting big size the pearls need more time to grow, and during this period the shape can deviate from round. Therefore, large pearls are seldom and of high cost.

Pearl is a product produced by alive creature. The surface of the pearls can not be homogeneous and flat. It is grainy (invisible by naked eye, but "tooth test" demonstrates evidence of pearl genuineness), and contains spotted imperfections. The smaller and more rare these ones, the higher the value.
Typically, the surface of a pearl is considered as good if with the naked eye any or very few bumps and spots can be found.
However, we must be tolerant with the imperfections of pearls. Even for the highest category of pearls AAA, it’s allowed up to 5% of the natural "defects" of the surface. By the way, they are considered as evidence of natural origin and a unique personality of the pearl. After all, nobody can imagine (or blame) Cindy Crawford on her lip’ birthmark?

Lustre of pearls, perhaps, its main feature. It depends on the quality of nacre: its transparency, hardness, and thickness. A thin layer of nacre does not give pearls shine and uniformity of paint. Very probable that it will not be durable. The unique pearl property - iridescence - depends on the thickness of nacre. Light falling on the surface of a pearl is refracted in the layers of nacre, and returned to us in the form of a multicoloured reflection. This is the difference between the reflection of light from a pearl, for example, and reflection from a glass beads. Good quality pearl demonstrates point-light reflection on the one hand, and on the other - it looks like a light from inside. By the lustre properties it can sometimes be possible to identify pearl origin. The most powerful shine is one of characteristic of Akoya pearls. South Sea Pearls have a soft, not sharp lustre; it’s not mirror-metal one, but at the same time this creaminess is unique. Tahitian pearls, despite the geographical proximity to the origin of South Sea Pearls, have a very high lustre, for which they are especially appreciated.

Unlike for diamonds, sapphires, rubies, there is no common international industry standards for evaluation of pearls. The most common is ranking AAA (Best quality) - A (the lowest quality, but still commercially acceptable). With a thorough assessment AAA-ranking can be applied to all four parameters.




1% of the total crop
Luster: excellent
Surface:> 96% without defects
Shape: Round, the deviation of less than 2%
Nacre: a thick layer


5% of the total crop
Gloss: very good
Surface: 90-95% without defects
Shape: round / circular, the deviation of 2-5%
Nacre: a thick layer


20% of the total crop
Luster: very good
Surface: 80-90% without defects
Shape: round, the deviation is not more than 5%
Nacre: medium / thick


50% of the total crop
The commercial value is moderate (in our store this is not for sale)
Luster: moderate
Surface: moderately dull, with small patches
Shape: round, the deviation is more than 5%

B or C

<50% of the total harvest
The commercial value is very low (in our store this is not for sale)
Luster: bad
Surface: glaring defects that are visible to the naked eye
Shape: round, oval, "potato", irregular
Nacre: poor quality or thin


In the past the colour of pearls had strong influence on price. Nowadays cultired  pearls can be dyed in different colours or treated to enhance appearance. Meanwhile natural colour is more valuable vs artificial.

There are several ways to determine the pearls are genuuine:

  • The easiest - rub a pearl gently on the surface of the tooth or rub pearls of one another. If the pearls are real, you will experience a slight roughness. Fake pearls always have a smooth surface.
  • Bear pearls in sunlight. Fake pearls surface is smooth, without spots and imperfections. True pearls, by contrast, have a surface with imperfections as well as deviations from the basic colours and shapes.
  • View the pearls under a magnifying glass. The surface of the pearls looks smooth, but with some irregularities on nacreous layer/ Faux pearls are incredibly smooth.
  • Weigh the pearl in his hand. If it's light, it is likely the fake one. The genuine pearl has a higher density, and therefore heavier than the simulated bead. However, faux pearls made from shells (South Sea Shell Pearl, SSSP), in terms of weight are identical to natural pearls.
  • If doubts remain, contact a gemmologist.

In conclusion – down to earth recommendation: if the seller tells clearly and honestly about his pearls, without trying to increase the price with stories about "the depth this pearl was getting from", does not hang on their product labels "elite" (and hand a line of bull – on you), but operates with simple descriptions of quality, from such a seller you may buy safely.

From the honest seller you can buy the pearls at fair price. It is very important on modern pearl market. Today freshwater pearls effectively compete by size, roundness, and lustre with very expensive South Sea Pearls. The difference in origin may cost for buyer 300-500% of the price.