How to Spot a Real Pearl in a Sea of Fakes

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Occasionally, a foreign substance, often a parasite, slips in under the oyster's shell. It is very irritating, so nature tries to protect the mollusk by coating the substance with successive layers of nacre, the same substance from which its shell is made.

However, since genuine natural pearls, being rare, are expensive, you will want to make sure that you purchase the real things. Faux pearls (faux is French for false, or imitation) are so cleverly manufactured today that it is easy for an untrained eye to be fooled.

Here are some tests for you to decide the quality of the pearl before you purchase it. First, check the pearl's shape-if it is perfectly round, it is probably fake.

Rub a pearl along the edge of your teeth. A real one will feel sandy and gritty, while a fake one will feel perfectly smooth.

Next, rub the pearl along a plate of glass. The faux pearl will leave no mark, while the real one will leave a faint white trail of nacre powder.

If you rub two pearls together, the real ones will feel rough and the nacre will leave a powdery residue. Faux pearls will feel smooth and slippery.