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Imitation or Not
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Clasp Test: Is the clasp made of silver, steel or a gold plated metal. This is a warning sign that the strand may be imitation. But good pearls are occasionally strung with cheap clasps and imitation ones with expensive clasps.

Price Test: Is the price of the pearls unbelievably low? If so, they may be imitation or have hardly any pearl nacre. Jewelers can't stay in business if they sell pearls below their cost.
Overtone Test: Look for overtone colors in the pearls. Imitations frequently have none, and when they do, the overtones all tend to look the same. It's normal for cultured and natural pearls to have overtones, and these overtones often vary in color within the strand.

Drill Hole Test:Examine the drill hole area with a magnifier of 10-power or above. (On some pearls, it may
be hard to see into their drill hole.) Cultured pearls tend to show the following characteristics:

•  There is often a clear dividing line between the nacre and nucleus.

• The edges of the drill holes are often sharp and well defined. But when the nacre wears away it can leave the holes looking jagged and rough.

•  The drill holes tend to be like a straight cylinder.

• The pearl nacre coating is normally thicker than the coating of imitations.

Imitation pearls tend to show these characteristics:

• There is normally no dark dividing line between the coating and the rest of the pearl. Occasionally, one may see a kind of line, but the other characteristics of the drill hole will look like those of imitations. If you are in doubt, look at the drill hole opening on the other side of the pearl and on other pearls of the strand.

•   The coating around the edges of the drill holes may have flaked off, making it look ragged or uneven.

•   The drill holes may be angled outward at the surface of the pearl, Other times the drill holes may round inward at the surface and bow outward inside the pearl.

•   The coating often looks like a thin coat of shiny paint. The thinness can be seen at the edge of the drill hole or around bare areas which expose the inner bead.

•  Rounded ridges may have formed around the drill hole.

• If the bead is made of glass, its glassy luster may be apparent.
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