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Imitation Pearls

Absolute Pearls only ever use genuine pearls from cultured freshwater and saltwater pearl producers. We do not stock imitations, faux pearls, shell pearls or so called semi-cultured pearls and do not recommend them to our clients.

Many people get confused between cultured pearls and fake pearls, and it is important to understand the difference between the two.

Just like an IVF baby, the cultured pearl process may be started artificially, but the pearls are still a natural gem, grown in a living creature and subject to all the variety and unpredictability that goes with any natural process. They are exactly the same in structure and composition as a pearl that grows naturally in the wild.

There is no substitute for the natural pearl growing process, and no man made substance has ever truly matched the lustre, iridescence or colours of a real pearl. Just like a beautiful baby, they are a gift from nature, and the closest that artificial production processes will ever get is a mere doll by comparison.

Sadly, that does not stop some people from trying, and there are many different kinds of imitation pearls available. These mostly consist of glass or plastic beads, which are coated with a fish scale mixture or powdered mother of pearl. Occasionally, rejected pearls are used as the base and artificially coated. These are called semi-cultured pearls, but are still considered fakes.

How to spot fake pearls

Some imitations, such as Majorca pearls, are finished to a very high standard, with multiple layers of coating, and it can be hard to tell them apart. So how do you know if you are buying real pearls?

Firstly, you should look at the pearls themselves. If they are all perfectly round, perfectly matched and have no flaws, yet are presented at an affordable price, then chances are they are fake. A string of pearls so perfect and flawless would be highly prized and highly priced. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

The second way to tell is to use the tooth test. Gently rub the pearl against your upper front teeth. If they feel gritty then they are probably real, but if they feel smooth then chances are they are fake. Conversely, if you look closely at the pearl surface, using a magnifying glass, then a real pearl will look smooth, while a fake pearl will appear rough.