The fact that such beauty can occur naturally is what makes pearls so valuable. It’s hard to put a price on something so singular.
Real pearls fall into two categories: natural and cultured.
Natural pearls are formed by oysters completely without interference from the human world. Real pearls are nature’s miracle.
Cultured pearls are also formed by oysters, but they are prompted to grow by pearl growers.
Non-naturally formed pearls or man-made pearls are not created in an oyster shell at all. They are made in machines, and while they can be an attractive addition to one’s jewelry box, the hold no value. Man-made pearls are also called faux pearls, fashion pearls, simulated pearls or manufactured pearls.
Man-made pearls are created from various materials including glass, plastic, ceramic, shells and they are normally varnished with a lacquer mixed with fish scales.
Any jewelry expert can tell right away if a pearl is real or fake. They can usually tell the difference by looking through the drill hole. But the average consumer has no way of really telling the difference. Some recommend the “tooth test”. The “tooth test” is a layman’s pearl authenticity test. You simply rub a strand of pearls across your front teeth. Real pearls will have a “gritty” texture, while fake pearls will feel very smooth.
But the only sure-fire way to determine the authenticity of a pearl, for those who aren’t in the know, is an X-ray machine. An X-ray will be able to determine the difference between a real and naturally produced pearl and a pearl that was cultured.
Not everyone can afford a real pearl necklace. And while there is no question as to which one is better: real or fake, it really depends on your budget. There are some exquisite man-made pearls on the market to make any woman proud to display.