Thinking of buying a pearl necklace, but have no idea what a real pearl is? Wondering about the difference between a real pearl and an imitation?
Here’s a short tutorial on the kinds of pearls you’re likely to find at your jeweler or when shopping online.
We Know: 1-Minute Lesson on How To Buy Pearls
What are REAL PEARLS?
Real or natural pearls are made by oysters or other mollusks. They are very rare and not often used in jewelry.
What are CULTURED PEARLS?
Cultured pearls are also made by oysters and mollusks, but their production is stimulated by humans, who introduce an irritant into the mollusk shell in order to start the pearl production process.
What are IMITATION PEARLS?
Pearls that are man-made using glass, plastic or organic materials are called imitation pearls.
Which of these is the MOST VALUABLE?
In rank order, real pearls are rare and very valuable. Cultured pearls, though instigated by man, are still made by oysters and, therefore, are usually more valuable than imitation pearls.
The value of a cultured pearl is largely based on its size and is usually stated in millimeters, along with the quality of the nacre coating that gives the pearl its luster.
Ask if the pearl you are buying is cultured or imitation.
What about COLORED PEARLS?
Pearls created by mollusks (real or cultured) can have different colors, including black, gold, orange and purple. But pearls can also be dyed artificially through various processes.
If you are thinking of buying a colored pearl, find out if the color is natural or if the pearl has been dyed or irradiated.