We are all familiar with the 4 C's of diamonds - the cut, carat, clarity and color - which determine the quality of this gemstone. But did you know about the 5 S's of cultured pearls?  Pearls are assessed and graded by their shape, size, shine, surface and shade.

This system was first developed by Autore for the South Sea, Tahitian and Akoya pearls. Watch this video to learn more about this classification system.

Note that there are other factors apart from this classification which really determine the value of pearls. Natural pearls will cost more than cultured pearls because they are scarce. Saltwater cultured pearls are more expensive than freshwater ones because they are farmed longer. The former are thus typically larger in size and are more often round because of the spherical starter beads inserted into the oysters. Most of the freshwater cultured pearls from China are not started from beads but from a bit of tissue - the mantel or nacre producing inner lining of another mussel.

Saltwater pearls have a better luster but freshwater pearls have a wide range of lovely pastel colors. Also important to ask when buying pearls is whether the colors are natural or the pearls are color treated, with natural hues fetching more than artificial ones.

But what if you are not sure what you have are real pearls?  I do use the well known test mentioned in the video but instead of running the pearl across my teeth, I run my fingernail across its surface. Real pearls will feel slightly ridged or grainy because of the natural nacre accumulation. Fake pearls will be very smooth.  Really bad fake pearls will even show seam lines where two spherical plastic components have been put together.

Nature is not perfect. So real pearls are never truly identical in a strand no matter how well matched they are. A giveaway for fake pearls is how utterly even they are in a strand - a sign that they are mechanically produced.

Watch Douglas McLaurin-Moreno's video demonstrate the simple three tests he uses to check if pearls are real or imitations. He is a Mexican entrepreneur, sustainable pearl farmer and educator. Some of the imitation pearls out there are very good so it pays to know how to pick them out.

Various Pearls Image Credit : by Masayuki Kato 

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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