Real pearls are a precious gemstone made by oysters, mussels and various other bivalve mollusk species. Most real pearls today are cultured or farmed, by inserting material into a mollusk, after which the mollusk lays down concentric layers of nacre until a pearl is formed.
A natural pearl may show growth lines where concentric layers of nacre have been added. Cultured pearls on the other hand will appear to have a perfectly rounded nucleus that's surrounded by a halo of conchiolin and finally a thin outer layer.
A real pearl should have natural, unaltered color with a smooth surface and luster similar to a mother pearls' natural color and brightness. A fake pearl will most likely have a discolored surface or be covered with a clear protective coating.
Natural pearls grow in the wild without human intervention. They are very rare, and most natural pearls in the market today are antique. Cultured pearls are grown in pearl farms, and are the direct result of human intervention.
Freshwater pearls are cheaper because they are easier to extract, making sea pearls more valued. Why? Sea pearls are larger, more beautiful in shape, luster, smoother surface and, of course, much more expensive than freshwater pearls.
Genuine pearls are shinier than fake pearls. You can measure shine in luster, which is the intensity and softness of a pearl's surface, it generally has to do with how bright and clear a pearl looks. Natural pearls have more shine than artificial ones because they're made from natural materials.
How Much Are Real Pearls Worth? A traditional strand of white pearls can range from $100 (Freshwater pearl necklace) to $10,000 (Akoya pearl necklace). A strand of large, flawless South Sea pearls could even be valued as high as $100,000+ .
Real pearls are cold to touch for the first couple of seconds before adjusting to your body temperature. Fake plastic pearls will be room temperature to begin with and you won't feel the coolness when you touch them.
To try it for yourself, put a drop of vinegar on the pearl or submerge the pearl in a small cup of vinegar. If you can see bubbles forming from the release of carbon dioxide in the chemical reaction, your pearls are authentic.
Perhaps the best-loved gems of all time, pearls—both natural and modern cultured pearls—occur in a wide variety of colors. The most familiar colors are white and cream (a light yellowish brown). Black, gray, and silver are also fairly common, but the palette of pearl colors extends to every hue.
Some pearls develop with one or more grooves or rings encircling them. These pearls are known as ringed or circled. The primary shape of a pearl is, therefore, described as circled round or ringed oval.
In general, there're 7 factors that affect the pearl value: shape, size, colour, lustre, surface quality, nacre quality and matching. Like the 4Cs of diamond valuation, the pearl's 7 value factors are created by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to standardise pearl grading systems.
While the white pearls are also priced by jewelers, the gold pearl variety is the most coveted color. The gold South sea pearl's color can range from creamy white to deep gold, and the darker the color, the more expensive it becomes.
The surface of a pearl is soft and is easily damaged. Pearls set in rings and bracelets are more subject to scuffing and scratching than pearls set in brooches, earrings, necklaces or strands.
Give the pearls a gentle cleaning every time you wear the jewelry. Wipe the pearls with a soft cloth every time you take them off to keep the pearls' luster and remove body oil and other debris that might be on the surface. Other than that, give the pearls a deeper cleaning if you feel like they look dingy.
Some of you may be concerned that if their pearls turn yellow, this indicates that they are fake. Contrary to popular belief, imitation pearls very rarely turn yellow due to their composition of plastic and ceramic. Pearls that begin to yellow indicate that they are organic and subject to change.
Pearls with particular brand names will also retain (and even increase) their value over the years; vintage Mikimoto Akoya pearls that still have their original clasp, box and papers to establish provenance are very highly sought after today and continue to fetch premium resale values.
The value of a pearl can vary dramatically depending on many factors, such as its type, size, color, surface quality, and more. A wild pearl will be worth more than a cultured pearl. However, on average, a pearl's value ranges from $300 to $1500.
Diamonds can often come at a higher price than pearls.
Natural pearls are still worth much more, but they're not really worth more than a diamond nowadays. And, when buying pearls you're over 90% bound to find cultured pearls, not natural ones.
The fact of the matter is this: almost all pearls sold today are cultured pearls, including freshwater pearls. In other words, there is no real difference when comparing cultured freshwater pearls vs. freshwater pearls. The real differentiator is the environment in which they are made, either freshwater or saltwater.