A lot of people have been writing in asking for appraisals or information on their own jewels, sometimes things that have been left to them. I've decided to offer a few little helpful hints once in a while with the little tricks of the trade we use to identify gems and jewelry.
To that end, TODAY'S HELPFUL HINT: HOW TO TELL IF A PEARL IS REAL
Simply (gently) rub the pearl against your tooth. If it has grit, it's real. If it's a fake pearl, it will instantly feel like plastic or coated in some way. You should be able to tell right away.
Some cheap cultured pearls have only a very thin layer of nacre (essentially, oyster spit) over the a large plastic bead, which can wear off, so you may have some items where there is a gritty surface on one part and plastic on the other. We call these "cheapo pearls". (<-not an industry term. yet.)