Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

Pearls are one of my favorite beads to use in jewelry. I love the natural luster of freshwater pearls and the variety of bright colors available in crystal pearls! If I order the beads myself I’m careful to keep them labeled and separate. But how do you tell what type of pearls you have if you inherit the beads or get them from a flea market or receive them as a gift? Today’s tips will make you a pearl identifying expert!

The first test to determine if a pearl is real or imitation is commonly referred to as a tooth test. This is a great method to use if you don’t want to damage any of your beads or if the pearls in questions are part of a finished piece of jewelry. Take a single pearl bead and gently rub it against the biting surface of your teeth. The surface of a real pearl will feel rough or gritty while the coating of an imitation pearl makes it feel smooth.

If you’re willing to sacrifice one pearl, you can also determine if they’re real or fake with a trial by fire! You don’t want to hold the bead while you do this test, so string it into the middle of a piece of scrap wire and make yourself a handle by twisting the ends of the wire together. Hold a small flame to the surface of your pearl bead for 10 seconds and watch how the bead reacts. If the pearl is imitation the coating will bubble and peel or the bead itself will start to melt. If the pearl is real a black mark will appear on the surface. Don’t worry! These burn marks can be wiped away with a soft cloth, leaving a real pearl unblemished. A Perfect End Thread Burner is one of the safest tools to use when running this test, but you can also use a match or a lighter.


Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen


2 comments to Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

  • Cheryl Hill

    I knew about the tooth test but I did not know about the fire test….very good information Gretchen…thank you!!!!

  • Margareth Derrick

    Like you I really love pearl and I thank you for this information. Do real pearls seem slightly heavier than fake pearls?

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