ABOUT PEARLS: Choosing The Right Ones, and Knowing The Differences Between Real and Faux
Pearls come in different sizes and shapes, and a myriad of colors.
Some pearls are from nature. These include freshwater pearls (from mussels) and saltwater pearls (from oysters). Pearls can be naturally occurring, or cultured, where people have intervened in the process by introducing an irritant inside the mollusk shell.
Other pearls are “faux” or imitation. These are some kind of core bead with a pearlized finish around it. These are typically described by what makes up the core of the bead. The core could be plastic, glass, shell, ceramic or crystal. These are made in different countries around the world and vary in quality.
To differentiate between natural and faux pearls, try these things:
A) Always when buying pearls, check the hole.
Most natural pearls have very small holes. The holes usually appear relatively smooth, but not perfectly smooth, round and centered as the holes in faux pearls do.
The finishes on many faux pearls are not well applied, particularly at the hole. You often can see the finish chipping off or peeling away from the hole.
Look inside the hole. In natural pearls, the hole will seem to be a solid tube all the way through. In faux pearls, usually you will see a thin rim, and the hole past the rim seems hollow.
B) Rub the pearls against your front teeth.
Faux pearls have very smooth surfaces. Natural pearls will have bumps and slightly uneven surfaces. You can feel the differences, when rubbed against your front teeth.
Grades or Qualities of Pearls
Pearls are typically described in terms of :
- Luster: the way pearls seem to glow from within.
It’s based on the depth of reflection due to the layering of the aragonite crystal.
2. Overtone: the translucent “coating” of color that some pearls have.
A silver pearl may have a blue overtone or a green overtone, for example.
3. Orient (sometimes called iridescent orient):
The variable play of colors across the surface of the pearl like a rainbow.’
Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:
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