Pearls are one of the most famous jewelry types in the world. They’re beautiful, timeless, and luxurious, but they can also be expensive. This article will show you how to tell real from fake pearls.

Table of Contents

Check the size and shape of each pearl.

Check the size and shape of each pearl. The size of a pearl is usually measured in millimeters, but this may vary depending on the type of pearl and how it was formed.

For example, Akoya pearls are generally smaller than Tahitian pearls.

If the shape of the pearls is symmetrical and consistent across all the pearls in your bracelet or necklace without even one being more noticeably different from all others, then it could be fake!

Inspect the luster of each pearl.

The luster of a pearl is the amount it reflects light. The higher the luster, the more valuable it will be. Luster is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being highest and 1 being lowest.

Pearl luster is affected by shape and surface quality:

  • Round pearls have very high lusters because they are round and smooth.
  • Button forms have lower lusters because they have rough surfaces that catch light unevenly.

Temperature Test

Real (authentic) pearls tend to be slightly cooler than room temperature when not in contact with the skin. After wearing them, they warm up to a temperature close to one’s skin temperature.

This is a unique property of pearls. On the other hand, fake pearls tend to be at room temperature when not in contact with the skin.

The Weight Test.

Weight is the most important factor when determining whether your pearls are real. Real pearls are naturally heavy, so if you feel that your pearl is too light or hollow, it’s probably not real. A real pearl will feel dense; if it feels light or hollow then it’s likely a fake.

A small kitchen scale can be used to measure single pearls in grams.

Drill hole

If the drill hole is perfectly circular, the pearl is likely to be authentic. If the drill hole has imperfections it may be made of plastic or resin.

Also, pearls made of glass may have a very sharp edge to them at the site of entry of the drill bit.

The Rub Test

The rub test for pearls

Rubbing two authentic pearls gently together results in a gritty sensation which is similar to what is noted with the tooth test (see below). Furthermore, by rubbing two pearls together, a fine powder is produced, which can be easily blown off. This further authenticates a positive rub test.

For fake pearls, they slide quite freely and smoothly during the rub test, making them easy to spot.

The Color Test

Natural or cultivated pearls, no matter how perfect, cannot be replicated to the extent that allows carefully selected pearls present on a necklace to appear essentially the same. This lack of a consistent color across various pearls makes them more likely to be authentic.

Conversely, for fake pearls, they all appear essentially the same in color.

Your next question may be, what about a single pearl? How would I know if it is authentic, based on color.

It is worth noting that authentic pearls have a secondary color (“orient”) which is classic to pearls. A fake pearl tends to be uniformly the same color, e.g., all silvery or even whitish, with no secondary coloration.

The tooth Test

In order to test whether or not your pearl is real, gently rub it against your teeth! If a grittiness occurs when you rub your teeth against the gemstone, don’t immediately assume that this signifies its authenticity.

Conversely, fake pearls, which tend to be made of plastic or glass, have a smooth surface and as such, do not produce this unique grittiness associated with pearls.

Pearls are made of calcium carbonate, and they don’t dent or break easily. If your pearl breaks when you bite it, it’s not a pearl! If the pearl doesn’t break but instead becomes slightly indented under the pressure of your teeth, then it’s definitely a fake pearl!

The Fire Test

Holding a flame toward authentic pearl results in no physical damage to it. Alternatively, pearls made of resin or plastic will melt.

Pearls as a truth serum?

Pearls are more than just jewelry–they’re also a way you can tell if someone is lying to you.

If someone asks if those are real pearls just as an icebreaker during introductions at an event, don’t respond with anything other than “yes” or “no” until you get a better idea of what kind of person they are.

If someone ends up asking if those are real pearls just because they’re curious about how much money it takes before shells become jewelry, find another question to ask them so that you aren’t put into an awkward situation with a new acquaintance.


Pearls have been used as a classic symbol of beauty and purity since ancient times, but they’re also great tools for telling if someone is lying to you.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of pearls or how to buy them, check out my other blog posts!

About the Author


I am a pearl and oyster enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge and experiences about fashion with the world. I am neither a certified gemologist nor a reseller of pearls.

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