How to Recognize Imitation Pearls
Most types of imitation/faux/fake pearls can be fairly easy recognized by weight and color. Acrylic resin and plastic pearls are quite a bit lighter than real pearls. Some of the high-simulated imitation pearls are made from beads of shell, glass or ceramic and coated with a varnish of pearl essence and fish scales to mimic real pearl surface.
An easy and effective method to recognize the imitation pearls is the “Tooth Test”. Rub the pearls gently across the cutting edge of your front teeth (but don’t bite it!). A real pearl should feel a bit gritty because of the crystalline structure of the pearl nacre. A faux pearl will feel smooth. Or you can gently rub two pearls against each other, real pearls will feel sandy and imitations will feel smooth.
A genuine pearl will almost always have some surface irregularities. Should you find the surface perfectly smooth without any blemishes, it will be either a valuable high quality pearl (with matching price tag) or a fake. This can be also applied to a pearl strand. A fake pearl strand will have unbelievably uniform surface conditions and no natural variations. Additionally, if the surface is magnified, a fake pearl surface will look grainy, whereas a real pearl’s surface has the characteristics of natural fingerprint-like ridges.
In addition to its fundamental body color, a real pearl will also show overtones. The overtone is an irradiance encompassing the entire pearl body and is a mixture of colors which varies according to the incident light a pearl reflects. Simply speaking, the colors irradiating from a true pearl will vary under different lights, such as that of the sun or a light bulb, and will also vary when viewing it from different angles. It is through color and overtones that one can distinguish an imitation pearl from a real one, as imitations are of uniform color and cannot display overtones.
Real pearls are sensitive to body temperature and feel cold upon first touch, but will then warm your body. Fake pearls tend to remain at room temperature.