Friday, November 17, 2006

Vintage Jewelry Tip Of The Month - November 2006

Vintage Jewelry Tip Of The Month: Testing Pearls

Can you really tell if a pearl is real by biting it? Well, not really but you can tell a few things about a pearl using just your senses. First off, do not bite, but rub the pearl against your front tooth. If it feels gritty, not dirty but more textured, chances are that it is a cultured or genuine pearl. If it feels smooth, it is likely glass or plastic. 

Distinguishing the difference between cultured and genuine pearls is more tricky and it is recommended that you take your item to a jeweler to have it identified. If the pearl is drilled, look at the hole to see the thickness of the nacre. If it appears thin, it is a cultured pearl.

But how do you know if your synthetic pearl is glass or plastic? The teeth come into play here again. Tap the bead against your tooth. if it makes a "clunk" sound, it is likely plastic. If it makes a "clink" sound, it is likely glass. Test this with other items you know to be glass or plastic first to get a feel for the different feels and sounds. In addition, glass tends to be cold to the touch as opposed to plastic so temperature can be an indicator of material as well.


  1. Tanjla12:40 PM

    That is great advice - especially for newbies to costume jewelry. I remember I inherited several strands of "pearls" and of course didn't realize that they were faux at first.
    The tooth test proved it. I am still working on recognizing other components, but the more you read and study - and just handle jewelry, the easier it becomes.

    Great blog,

  2. Thanks for the comment! People always ask me why I am eating their jewelry. I know right there and then that they don't know much about testing materials using their teeth. ;-)

    It's such an easy thing to test although the difference between glass and plastic can be a bit tricky for some people.