I was perusing the internet today, reading up on my favorite topic: pearls. Well, I came across an image of a beautiful pearl necklace very similar to our 10mm Classic Necklace and it was only $99. I was amazed so I clicked on the image to read more about this necklace. Ever so subtly, in the description…between the words genuine and luxurious were the words “shell pearl.” This is an example of what I call… giving “pearl” a bad name! I have studied pearls for over 7 years and even I was temporarily fooled.
Shell pearls are fake pearls. They are created by coating a glass bead with a mixture of epoxy, fish scales, crushed up mother of pearl and basically anything else shiny. They look nice, I will give them that, but make no mistake they are fake (faux, impostors,imitators, fraud, sham, pretenders…). We at The Pearl Girls do not sell them (we like to keep things real around here) but if you choose to buy them, know what you are buying! And don’t just trust the price. We once saw a shell pearl necklace is Dubai priced at $1000. We call that one VERY expensive clasp!
Never buy shell pearls and think you have bought genuine pearls. It sort of reminds me of what my Dad used to say, “If it is too good to be true… it probably is!”
I am a modern day treasure hunter who travels the world for gorgeous pearls and amazing adventures. I own a pearl jewelry and jewelry repair business, ThePearlGirls.com, with a cute retail store in Athens, GA. I also have a Pearl Travel business and travel blog at TheWorldofPearl.com.
6 Replies to “Do Not Get Fooled By Shell Pearls”
My mother and her mother wore pearls, and I was always entranced by them. I have two strands that were my grandmother’s and though they’ve suffered damage to the nacre from parfum and hairspray, I still treasure and wear them with the utmost sentimentality. Even though diamonds are my birthstone, I am and always will be a pearl girl. I have your Samantha necklace. My husband purchased it for me at Frontier here in Athens for my 53rd birthday in 2012. I may have to take one of your classes! So glad you are local.
Kaelin! Thanks so much for reaching out to us! I absolutely love the Samantha Necklace and I know that must have been a special birthday gift. I really hope you will take a class with us. Our classes are so much fun… we are having one each month is the new year! We hope to hear from you!
Shell pearls are not coated glass beads, They have a core bead of mother of pearl which is coated with a resin coating. They are imitation pearls–but no glass. Swarovskie immitations have a glass base. Prove this with a destructive test by soaking in 100% acetone for a week. You”ll have a non glass mother of pearl bead as a result.
Lloyd Patterson Gemologist
Awesome Lloyd! Thanks so much for correcting me on this! Many years ago, when I first got started in business, I sold shell pearls. My suppliers always told me they were glass beads! I love experiments so I will try it out and see if they were telling the truth or not! Thanks so much for reaching out!!
Obviously things have changed with time. There is some very interesting reading on the Internet on the full process of Shell Pearls, as it is a large industry. I am particularly interested as I will be travelling to areas in Vietnam in November, where they are a huge industry. While pearls will always have a place in society, not everyone can afford genuine pearls.
Living in the tropic, I rarely wear my pearls because of their delicate nature. Which is why I welcome the new technology of Shell Pearls. I too, love pearls, however the shell pearls will allow me to wear them without worry as they are considerably more hardy, so I can enjoy them. Also the colour and size is also a fun aspect we can all enjoy now, not just those who have deep enough pockets.
Unfortunately not everyone will be astute enough to observe the difference in the wording of pearl sales. I am sure there will be many buyers who will be caught, thinking they are purchasing genuine pearls. Frankly, I see no reason why women from all walks of life can’t enjoy what they can afford to purchase, without stigmas being applied. After all, it is buyer beware. They are being sold as Shell Pearls.
We must also remember that while it is only the rich who can afford to buy and wear magnificent genuine gems, unfortunately due to security risks to those purchases, they rarely see the light of day, outside of being secured in vaults. With the purchaser waring paste copies, of their original gem purchase. It is logical that pearls will now follow the same path.
When I was in Fiji a few months ago I met a Chinese man who had flown over to look at (and possibly buy!) the resort we were staying in. His translator was a nice guy and he told us how this man had bought a million dollar necklace for his wife. He showed us photos. It was a lovely but garish piece of sapphires and diamonds. My mom and I remarked that we could not imagine wearing a million dollar necklace! I am sure a bodyguard (or two!) had to follow her whenever she wore it. And, like you said, I am sure they made a replica and hid the original away in a safe.
I will say, though, that genuine pearls are a lot more accessible than they ever have been. And I encourage people to wear them and enjoy them. Even living in the tropics, I am sure your pearls would love that yummy humidity!
Thanks for the tip on shell pearls! I will read more on them! I bought pearls in Vietnam back in 2006 but I haven’t been back since then! It is such a lovely country! I think I might just have to plan another trip!