How Can You Recognize An Authentic Pearl When Buying Vintage Jewellery

How Can You Recognize An Authentic Pearl When Buying Vintage Jewellery


Photo by Anna Stampfli on Unsplash

Pearls are a favored jewel among enthusiasts and fashionistas. The delicate, soft shimmer captures attention and steals breath. Strands of pearls can present a formal appearance at any black-tie gala or add a touch of sass to a button down when attending a poetry reading at the local cafe. Go here for details on how to wear pearls anytime.

A natural pearl is exceptionally fragile, readily damaged by the chemicals in everyday products like laundry soaps, hair products (gels, sprays), and perfumes. Everyone uses one or a combination of these items, making a case for why many invest in the vintage lines of imitation strands flocking the fashion industry.

Whether a vintage-inspired soiree, contemporary art exhibit, or anything in between, the pearl is timeless and can adapt. Considering the appeal and value, there is an increasing volume of fakes on the market. For authentic strands, there are tips and helpful hints on recognizing what’s real and what’s not. Let’s learn.

Consider these suggestions if you aim to own a genuine piece of pearl jewellery, perhaps a strand, maybe a ring, or even a brooch. The options are endless.

How Can You Recognize An Authentic Pearl When Purchasing Vintage Jewellery

An authentic pearl is recognizable by the glow that comes from within. Fake jewels are unable to emit this gleam. The problem is if you are unfamiliar with pearls, the glow won’t be apparent to you.

It will take comparing different ones in a “side to side” viewing to establish a keen sense of the differences. Go to to learn how to identify pearls in vintage jewellery pieces.

A pearl is considered “an organic gem.” Of course, this is due to the fact that the stone derives from a life form. Genuine pearls fall into varied categories.

  1. Those established in freshwater are Cultured Freshwater Pearls
  2. Ocean-farmed are Cultured Saltwater Pearls
  3. Finally, those that are not farmed, no human intervention, “wild” or Natural Pearls

While there are various oyster species and the growth process is unique for each gem, the suggestion is that overall “mineral composition” is reliable across the board. That will essentially dictate whether a stone is natural or a fake.

Let’s look at a few things you can do to help you recognize an authentic pearl if you want to purchase vintage pearls consisting of the real deal.

●     Pay attention for “knotting”

Pearls are an exceptionally delicate gem. Because of this trait, the gems’ strands will consist of little sections of knotting between the stones. With the strands strung in this way, the pearls can’t rub or bump into each other, which would eventually lead to damage of the gemstone.

The knotting process is an exceptionally intricate and challenging one that many jewellers are unwilling to invest time in for imitation jewellery. You could perceive the absence of knotting as an indication that the piece is fake, but it’s not a definitive marker.

Some authentic strands are missing the knotting, and some jewellers will take the time to knot imitations to create the look of a genuine product.

●     Inspect the pearl’s hole

Each pearl will have a hole drilled through. Pay attention to the care taken with drilling and the surrounding area of the gem where the hole was made. Usually, with a fake, there will be a large, non-uniform hole.

The “beading” will have a coating peeling away from the sides where the hole was placed. This is often seen with the more aged vintage selections. For those who can peer into the hole, the coloring inside the stone usually won’t be the same shade as the outside coating.

If this were an authentic pearl, the drilled hole would be uniform, directly in the middle, with perhaps powder traces from the string rubbing the hole. The goal is to drill the most minute hole in an effort to retain as much weight as possible for greater profit.

●     Inspect the surface of the gem

Strands were the focus of the previous two examples, but you can use this for any pearl jewellery piece. Pearls are an organic gem, and as in nature, they won’t form to be uniform or perfect. There will be irregularities, perhaps some minute, on the surface, including dimples to define one from another.

It can be incredibly challenging to perceive these with the highest quality gems, but with the imitations, you will notice a smoother consistency throughout the surface.

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●     Give it a roll

You’ll need access to loose pearls that you want to check for authenticity with this check. Again, pearls will not win the contest for perfect features; at least, the real ones won’t. Not only does the gem have surface “inconsistencies and various irregularities,” but each shape is a little off.

That means if you attempt to roll a pearl and maintain a straight line, it likely will fail the test, usually wobbling along its path until it eventually falters off its course. A fake is too round and willing to roll wherever you want it to go without straying from the mark.

The problem comes with exceptionally high-grade pearls. Gem graders responsible for assessing the wholesale market will perform the roll test and find the round pearls to be more valuable than the irregular ones. Plus, these graders find the “most desirable” to be the “perfectly spherical that rolls straight.”

Final Thought

One test that most people, whether you’re familiar with pearls or not, recognize is the “taste test.” This is when you rub a pearl gently across the surface of a front tooth. Because teeth are incredibly sensitive, even slight variations in the gemstone will be readily detected.

The authentic pearl will produce a sandy, rough impression, but the imitation is more of a plastic-like, smooth consistency.

As a rule, when dealing with a reputed pearl jeweller, the piece’s authenticity should be fully disclosed. The price point will reveal its value, plus a trusted retailer will provide the jewellery’s grading documentation.

You can also buy high-end “costume” pearls from various brands, new or vintage. Again, the only anticipation is transparency on the products sold.

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