How do I know if pearls are real and how can I recognise a fake?
Some people suggest that you can tell if a pearl is real by rubbing it against your teeth. While there is some truth in this, it is not a very good idea as you can easily damage the pearl’s surface.
Fake pearls can be made to look like real pearls, but they are in fact a man made bead which could be made from shell, plastic, glass or ceramic and coated with a material to simulate lustre. The signs to look for are as follows
Usually fake pearls will look too perfect with an even lustre covering the surface of the pearl. Because a real pearl is naturally formed there will always be an imperfection somewhere – it is just a matter of looking closely enough.
The imitation pearl will usually not have the same weight as a real set of pearls
Real pearls radiate the warmth of the body – if you hold them in your hand they will adopt your warmth in a way that a fake pearl will not.
Simulated pearl strands will show uniformity between each of the pearls, even where the pearl is graduated that graduation will be uniform. A genuine pearl strand is matched over time through a collection of individual pearls and no matter how perfect, there will always be slight subtle differences in the size of each pearl.
Examination of the drill hole of a genuine pearl under magnification will reveal hints of minor imperfections in the nacre very close to the hole. Sometimes it is even possible to see signs of the actual bead of a fake pearl at the hole where the bead has been drilled.
A simulated pearl can never truly imitate the lustre of a pearl. Lustre has a luminosity and depth which is visible to an accustomed eye, it is very different from what is merely shine in a fake pearl.
Simulated pearls will display uniformity in colour and the colour itself will be flat in tone, whereas a genuine pear strand will show a depth in its colour where every layer of nacre has its own unique colour.
A genuine pearl does not have a completely smooth or shiny surface. It will feel very slightly grainy to the touch, much the same as your tooth might feel.
Pearls, unlike diamonds cannot be easily valued. However, an experienced valuation specialist or pearl retailer with a trained eye will be able to give a fairly accurate value on a pearl.
The South Sea Pearl market is highly regulated and the quality of pearls, particularly those from Australia, are maintained at a high level to ensure the continued credibility of the market.
Pearls are valued on the following qualities
The Lustre of the pearl is an indication of the quality and depth of the nacre. Pearls with only a thin layer of nacre will display little or no lustre.
The size of a South Sea Pearl can be quite large – the larger the pearl the higher the value.
South Sea Pearls vary in colour naturally within the following areas
Silver / White
Pink / White
Gold / Yellow
The whiter the pearl, the higher the value.
A near perfect round shape is the most preferred.
All natural pearls will have some blemish, no matter how small – this is part of their natural character. The less blemishes on the surface of the pearl, the higher the value of the pearl.
Prima Pearls prides itself on its reputation, which is why we offer guarantees on both authenticity and value.
Why is the South Sea Pearl so much more expensive than the Freshwater Pearl and what are the differences?
The South Sea Pearl is grown in deep oceanic waters where the quality of nutrients for the Oyster is superior, to allow a better quality of pearl to be produced. These oceanic pearls are naturally produced by the Oyster. The South Sea Pearl will retain and most likely increase its value over the years, because of its quality and rarity.
Freshwater Pearls, on the other hand, are grown in shallow inland waters, predominantly in China and can be very cheaply and easily produced. There are no quotas on the number of pearls produced, hence these pearls have no rarity value. The quality control mechanisms set up in the South Sea Pearl market do not exist with freshwater pearls and it is very common practice to dye pearls to achieve a range of colours.
Freshwater pearls are often smaller in size than oceanic pearls.
Freshwater pearls are less round in shape than an oceanic pearl
Freshwater pearls are often dyed to achieve the desired colour. A dyed or treated pearl will lose a lot of the qualities of a natural pearl where the inherent beauty lies in the natural colour and lustre achieved by the oyster during the cultivation period.
Because the freshwater pearling industry lacks the regulation and controls inherent in other pearl farming, the nacre can be thin.
Freshwater pearls are usually presented with cheaper fittings and clasps in silver or stainless steel rather than gold.
Should I really spend this much on just one piece of Jewellery – is it extravagant and will I tire of it?
Many of our customers have asked this question before buying their pearls and several years later have found that the opposite is in fact the case and they love their pearls more.
Pearls, with their amazing lustrous quality, light up the whole face. Because they reflect light so effectively, a quality pearl necklace will enhance a woman’s appearance, as it is not so much a compliment to the outfit, it is a complement to the person. This is why pearls always look at their best worn directly against the skin.
Will my pearls retain their value?
Both the South Sea and Tahitian pearling industries are heavily regulated with quotas applied to quantities. On top of this the oceanic pearl farming, particularly in Australia, has many natural barriers to increased production. All suitable farm waters have been taken up with licences by our existing farmers. Oceanic pearl farming is difficult and treacherous with pearl farms situated in remote crocodile infested areas. Natural increases in cost, coupled with inflation will mean that the price of these pearls will forever increase.
Anyone who invests in property, business, stocks and shares or art will understand the concept of economic cycles – the pearl market is equally affected by these economic cycles. During lean times people will spend less on luxury items.
Jewellery of high quality that is particularly rare will retain its value, just as a good strand of pearls will retain their lustre for many, many years. It is wise therefore to invest in the best pearls you can afford and if possible, buy them at a time when the economic cycle is at the less prosperous sector and when you are likely to be paying less for those pearls than you would be during more prosperous times.
The value and true beauty of the pearl is in its story. Every pearl is a unique gift from nature. The pearling industry has been built on a tradition of man partnering with nature. It is the natural formation of the nacre, untreated, with the fine balance maintained by the oyster being patiently encouraged to produce a perfectly round pearl with an evenly distributed nacre.
The acquisition of a beautiful quality pearl stand is something to be treasured and passed to your daughters and granddaughters.
Are Pearls difficult to take care of?
As long as you remember they are porous pearls are very easy to take care of.
Your necklace will benefit from a re-stranding once a year (if you are wearing them on a daily basis). – Prima Pearls, or your jeweller will arrange this for a small cost.
Pearls will dull with a build up of dirt and can easily be washed in soapy water. Dry them with a clean soft cloth or tissue. When you are not wearing your pearls keep them in a soft cotton bag separately from other jewellery that might scratch them
What Colour should I select?
This is a very personal choice. While white is definitely the preferred choice, the shades of white vary considerably from silver/whites to creamy/whites and even pink/whites. What may suit you individually depends very much on your skin tone. It is always a good idea to try on a few different strands before making a selection.
Are Pearls too traditional for me?
Pearl jewellery is constantly reinventing itself and the options for unique one off pieces of jewellery with pearls are endless. Let your own imagination inspire one off designs, which our jewellers can create just for you. Gone are the days of twin-sets and pearls (unless that is your choice). Thankfully pearls now feature prominently on the cat walks of Europe alongside our favourite fashion designers.