Things aren’t always what they seem to be. So I am a big believer in destruction testing, especially with pearls.
Don’t do this with a beautiful Tahitian pearl. They are hard to culture and the nacre is usually deposited in a layer over a bead. Same for Edison brand freshwater pearls from China. But break apart a cheap freshwater pearl from China and you may find surprising value. Or not. Many of these gems can be almost 100 percent nacre. Others consist of a paper thin layer over a bead that looks like cuttle bone.
Secure test pearl to bench block with clear plastic tape (so you can see it.) Place on a sturdy surface, such as a stump. Put in safety glasses and strike the pearl with a fairly light hammer. Then examine the layers through a lens.
Tip: If you buy a strand of pearls at a gem show, ask lots of questions. Then test one of them immediately, to make sure it is what it is.
Click here to register for Betsy's upcoming Pearl Carving class!