How to tell if freshwater pearls are real ?

Common methods of pearl jewelry counterfeiting

In the jewelry industry, any best-selling gem may be optimized. To know how to distinguish the true and false pearls, we should first know how fake pearls are forged.

how to tell if freshwater pearls are real


Treatment is to improve the appearance of pearl with poor quality through manual treatment, such as filling and dyeing of jadeite.

Strictly speaking, the processed pearl is not fake pearl, but these artificial methods cover up the defects of the jewelry itself, fake high-quality pearl, and achieve the purpose of deceiving consumers, so that they can sell at a better price.


Imitation refers to the use of some cheap materials with similar appearance to pearls to fake and pretend to be real pearl, which is known as fake pearl.

how to tell if freshwater pearls are real
Now let's share with you the identification knowledge of pearls from the aspects of processing and imitation~


For pearls, the most common treatment method is dyeing or irradiation to improve or change the color of pearls.
Among them, the most important thing to remind you is dyed black pearls and gold pearls. Because these two natural colored pearls are very rare and expensive, counterfeiting is also the most common.

So how to distinguish dyed pearls?

In fact, whether freshwater pearls are dyed black or gold, or seawater pearls are added to their body color, the dyed pearls have some similarities. Apart from professional instruments, here is how to distinguish them with the naked eye.

     1.Color status

The color of natural pearls can be divided into body color, companion color and halo color. The color shows from the inside of the pearl, which is soft, flexible and layered. Basically, no two pearls are exactly the same.
how to tell if freshwater pearls are real
  • Natural Tahiti black pearl, the color shows from the inside.
Dyed pearls are generally rich in color and stiff, floating on the surface. Therefore, each pearl bracelet made of fake pearls is particularly consistent and unchanged.
how to tell if freshwater pearls are real
  • Dyed pearls with uniform dull color and deep tones

     2. Color distribution

Most pearls have more or less flaws, and natural-colored pearls tend to be lighter in flaws.

Although dyed pearls add different metallic tones in an effort to create a natural iridescence, the color distribution tends to be uneven, especially in the holes and blemishes of the pearls, which concentrate into color spots with clearer borders——under strong light These features are easy to spot.

how to tell if freshwater pearls are real

  • Dyed pearls of different shades imitating natural iridescence, uneven color, floating on the surface, visible stains.

     3. Stability

The color of dyed pearls is generally unstable and will fade after a long time; for necklaces connected in series with ropes, etc., carefully observe the rope part, and you may see the fading of the dye.

     4. Size Alerts

Gold and black pearls (both saltwater pearls) are generally larger than 8mm in diameter, while some fake dyed freshwater pearls are generally smaller than 8mm in diameter. Therefore, if you encounter black or gold pearls with a diameter less than 8mm, and the color is rich and bright, you should pay attention!

In addition, although the Japanese akoya gold beads in seawater beads are natural pearls, their diameters are often less than 8mm (5-9mm is common), but their color is lighter and transparent, which is completely different from dyed pearls.

how to tell if freshwater pearls are real
  • dyed gold pearls
how to tell if freshwater pearls are real

  • Natural South Sea Golden Pearl
how to tell if freshwater pearls are real

  • Natural light golden japanese akoya pearls

Round or nearly round Tahitian black pearls

  • Round or nearly round Tahitian black pearls
Long rice type freshwater pearl dyed imitation black pearl
  • Long rice type freshwater pearl dyed imitation black pearl
Another tip is the waistline feature. The waistline shrinkage in the middle of freshwater pearls is also very rare in seawater pearls
Dyed freshwater pearls with girdle lines
  • Dyed freshwater pearls with girdle lines

In fact, this kind of dyed pearls with obvious characteristics of freshwater pearls can hardly pass off as seawater pearls, and the price is relatively low, so they are often used as decorations.

In recent years, freshwater pearls have also begun to be cultured with nuclei. The market calls them Edison pearls. These pearls are similar in shape and size to seawater pearls. If they are dyed, they will be very deceptive.

     5. Price Alerts

Natural-colored black pearls and gold pearls are expensive due to the scarcity of production, and those with rich and beautiful colors are even more rare, so they are expensive.

If you encounter a pearl with a beautiful color but the price is far below the market price, you should pat your head to remind yourself—don’t hold the mentality of picking up the missing ones, and would rather believe that you are not so lucky....

Freshwater pearls dyed in various color
  • Freshwater pearls dyed in various colors

There are also some freshwater pearls that will be dyed into red and green decorations. All kinds of colors will appear, and it is easy to distinguish them, because these are the colors that natural pearls will not appear. It can also be judged by comparing the above characteristics.

The identification methods mentioned above are mainly carried out from the perspective of dyeing.

Gray appearance produced by irradiation treatment
  • Gray appearance produced by irradiation treatment
As for the other treatment method mentioned above, irradiation color change, because there are relatively few irradiated pearls on the market, so we will not expand.
In addition to being slightly uniform and dull in color and generally gray, these pearls often need to be accurately identified with the help of large instruments, which does not belong to the category of naked eye identification we discussed today.
how to tell if freshwater pearls are real


False pearls are generally made of glass, plastic or seashell, and some are made of pearl powder pressed and cemented as a core, and then coated with a layer of "pearl liquid" with pearl luster to imitate the appearance of pearls.

No matter which method is used, imitation pearls are generally cheap, and are often used for small ornaments and clothing accessories, which are relatively easy to identify.


how to tell if freshwater pearls are real



     1.The size, color, luster and shape are particularly consistent


Imitation pearls will be very consistent in appearance because they are pipeline products; The size of naturally grown pearls will vary.

For example, in a real pearl necklace, the beads near the button at the tail will generally be smaller than the beads in the front center, and there will be some size changes; And the color and luster of real pearls cannot be the same, and the shape will not be particularly round and perfect.

So there must be a problem with pearls or pearl ornaments that are too perfect and cheap.

how to tell if freshwater pearls are real




     2. The imitation pearl is almost flawless

True pearls always show traces of natural growth more or less, that is, so-called flaws. However, there are almost no defects in imitation pearls, or there are some special regular planes, depressions, bubbles, etc.


     3. The skin feeling of real and fake pearls is different


Real pearls feel cool when they are close to the skin, while imitation pearls feel warm.


     4. The texture of two pearls is different


When two real pearls rub against each other, they will feel astringent, and there will be small traces of pearl powder, but there will be no damage after wiping.


The friction between the two imitation pearls is a slippery feeling.


     5. Pearl hole is clear


Observe the hole, the smooth coating edge can be seen in the imitation pearl, and sometimes the skin bulges and falls off.


how to tell if freshwater pearls are real

  • Common pearl-like appearance, smooth coating edge and peeling can be seen in the bead hole



     6. Magnifier assisted observation surface

With the help of a magnifying glass, we can see that the pearl layer on the surface of the real pearl is a layer of tile-like structure, showing the growth traces, while the imitation pearl is like the egg surface, showing the uneven eggshell shape.


how to tell if freshwater pearls are real


  • The imbricated structure on the surface of the pearl (the left is the structural schematic diagram, and the right is the live photo)


There are also some destructive identification methods such as scraping with a blade, which are not recommended here.

Finally, price is absolutely an important aspect of measuring quality! The price of imitation pearls or dyed pearls will be lower, so you should not take chances to buy pearls for cheap.


how to tell if freshwater pearls are real

Finally, if you ask the merchant to buy a real pearl when you buy a pearl, and then you buy a dyed pearl, the merchant is also right. The dyed pearl is only artificially processed, and you can only feel uncomfortable then. So you should remember to ask one more question whether it has been processed manually!



The simplest way to identify true and false pearls:


1. The first common feature of fake pearls is that because they are made of molds, their shapes are all round, and the pearl holes are generally very large full holes. However, the shape of natural pearls is generally not fine and round, and the pearl hole is generally about 1.0mm. The nacreous layer can be seen from the pearl hole.


2. The color of fake pearls is very uniform and uniform, or the color is thick. Because it was painted or painted. Every real pearl will have a little color difference, because real pearls will have different colors under the light.


3. Many fake pearls have smooth surfaces, no defects, no texture, and very light weight. The real pearls have a dignified texture, and will feel cold when touched.


4. When the fake pearl is rubbed or scraped with a knife, the skin will be worn or peeled off. The natural pearl can scrape off the pearl powder with a knife. After scraping off the pearl powder, wipe off the surface of the pearl with your hand. The skin of the real pearl is the same as before.