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Different types of pearls and how to identify real ones

For centuries, pearls have been coveted by both men and women alike for their beauty, rarity and powers. The only stone to be found in a natural form, the pearl holds a significant position in the world of gems. As we tell you some simple ways to identify real pearls, let’s start with a brief introduction to how pearls are created.

The birth of a pearl

Three Layered Pearl Pebble Set

Pearls are found inside molluscs like oysters, and are formed hundreds of feet under the sea. What is surprising, is that pearls are actually a result of a secretion called nacre, which is released by molluscs to protect themselves from various irritants like sand, fishbone etc. that tend to float into the oyster.  This process takes years and thus naturally found pearls are such a rarity. These days, however, pearls are cultivated by purposefully inserting irritants into the oyster. One can reap the maximum benefits from natural pearls, so choose your pearls wisely.

Different types of pearls

Pearls are divided into two main types depending on their location of growth – Saltwater and Freshwater.

Freshwater pearls:
Natural freshwater pearls are formed when a small stone or a calcareous concretion lodges in a pearl bearing mussel and instigates the formation of a pearl. These pearls have rounded surfaces, although they can be of many different shapes. A distinguishing feature of these pearls is that they are usually never perfectly round like saltwater pearls; they are what are known as baroque or semi-baroque. They come in white to light pastel colours and are the most affordable ones.

Under saltwater pearls are three different types of pearls grown in different places.

South Sea pearls:

South Sea pearls and Diamond Earrings

These are the largest saltwater pearls cultivated today and are mostly found in Australia, Philippines and Indonesia. They are characterised by their size and colour ranging from white to gold. South Sea pearls are the best for statement jewellery pieces.

Tahitian Pearls:

Tahitian Pearl & Diamond Button Earrings

Tahitian pearls are grown in French Polynesia and are famous as the only naturally dark coloured pearls. They range across exotic colours like grey to black and deep green as well. Tahitian pearls are found in both round and baroque shapes.Akoya Pearls:

Grown for over 100 years off the coast of Japan, Akoya pearls are what come to the mind when you imagine the perfect set of white pearls. Although they come in silver blue and gold, they’re famous for being perfectly round and lustrous.

How to identify real pearls

Pearls can be both natural and cultivated, and both kinds are real pearls. Good quality in a pearl is important to obtain maximum benefits while wearing any pearl jewellery. There are some simple ways to identify real pearls from fake plastic or glass ones.

Touch

Real pearls will always feel cool even under warm or hot temperatures. Another way to identify a real pearl is to rub two pearls together. They will produce a slight pearl powder if real. Even when touched by hand, a real pearl feels a little rough and not perfectly smooth.

A quick way to check the quality at home is by rubbing them against your teeth. A real pearl will feel powdery and you will feel the fine ridges against your teeth, whereas a fake pearl feels very smooth.

Observation

Real pearls are usually slightly different from each other in minute ways.  Fake pearls will be of the exact same size and shape (if strung on the same necklace). Another observation point is the reflective quality of the pearl. Of course, you will not see yourself in it, but you can definitely notice the light’s reflective surface on a real pearl.

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