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Thinking Too Much??

Luv-a-Good-Diamond

Rough_Rock
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
11
Hello All! I've been bitten by the pearl bug! Not sure right now if it's a YAY....or a YIKES! I am reading the comments, questions, suggestions, referrals, etc., and they are very helpful. I notice a few websites that are mentioned a lot. My questions: Should I be concerned with the major difference between the retail prices and selling prices? Why such a huge difference? Are the pearls really as advertised? I really like the Tahitian pearls, and when I see a sell price over $2,000 that's at least a 60-75% discount, I get nervous to spend my money. Am I thinking too much about the psychological pricing strategy (in my mind)?

Also, when at a B/M store, a frequent suggestion to test to see if pearls are real is to rub your teeth across to feel the grit. Is there another more sanitary friendly way to determine if a pearl is real (particularly with so many hands touching the strand...not to mention mouths)? Please, It is not my intention to offend anyone or business; these are some of the first things that came to my mind when I started checking out pearls. Thank you.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
I would visit local jewelers in your area and look at the Tahitian pearls they have in stock. You may have trouble finding them if you live in a small town since they are rare and not a big seller for small jewelers. I would never take a strand from a store and touch them to your teeth, rubbing them for proof they are real. Sure they are germy from hands that have touched the strand, but no jeweler wants you to potentially damage their expensive goods either. If you are in the USA, go to your local mall and find genuine pearls in the glass case with a sales person and a strand of faux which will be hanging in the middle of the jewelry department on the hanging displays. Just a close look at the two over in the well lit glass case area where lighting is a selling tool should show you the difference side by side without resorting to putting anything near your mouth. Most faux pearls look coated, also if you look at the drill holes on the strands side by side you should be able to see a marked difference between cultured and faux.

As for price difference. Most online vendors are buying from the source and don't have the overhead that brick and mortar stores have. B&M can't compete price wise with online vendors. B&M also rarely have more than commercial quality in their cases unless this is the only thing they sell. The sales people in most jewelry stores have little knowledge about the pearls they sell since this is a small fraction of the sales in the store. 5-10 percent if they are lucky. Online vendors have the best pearls and are knowledgeable about their products. Most have hand selected them and you will find grading on much of what you look at unlike stores that rarely do.

PS.... If you find a store selling LeVian jewelry, these Tahitians are more than likely dyed pearls. This line usually sells chocolate pearls to match into their chocolate diamond line. To be consistent in the case, pearls are dyed to match.
 

BWeaves

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
346
Good advice.

Personally, I don't find the "tooth test" to be very helpful at all. I have good real pearls, not so good real pearls and fakes. I can't tell the difference with the "tooth test." It's sort of like the diamonds scratch glass test. A lot of other stones, including modern imitations also scratch glass, because glass is pretty soft. That test was from the old days when an imitation diamond was glass, itself, or something softer. CZs are hard enough to scratch glass.

I agree that if you look at real pearls right next to imitation ones, you'll easily see the difference.

I, too, was originally concerned about buying online. However, I stay away from Ebay and Craigslist, and I only buy from the few vendors listed here as trusted vendors, and have good return policies. I've had very, very good experiences with all the trusted vendors listed here. The "retail price" is what the same strand might go for in a brick and mortar store. I have no qualms about ordering something and then sending it back. Yes, I've paid for shipping and insurance, but I'd also pay for gas driving all over town looking at B/M stores, which is money you never get back, so I don't worry about that. At least I get to keep what I want, and not keep what I don't want.
 

Bailey1856

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
242
I'm in Canada and the B & M stores in my city charges close or even more to those percentages and with a lot less selection. Even with our low dollar exchange I would still opt to buy from the vendors in the States because I'm still paying a lot less. If you are in the States and just starting to love pearls you are very lucky as you have quite a selection of wonderful vendors and free shipping and returns as well.
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,234
It is true that B&M store prices are going to be higher than the online sellers' prices. Having less overhead and buying in quantity enable the online sellers to charge less.

The biggest advantage to buying online, IMO, is the greater selection. You said you like Tahitian pearls. How often do see Tahitian pearls in the B&M stores where you live? Around here, few stores even carry even one strand, never mind an assortment to choose from.

If you are thinking of buying Tahitians online, I suggest you read the thread about vendor photos vs. IRL photos:
[URL='https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/tahitian-pearls-vendor-vs-irl-pictures.205879/']https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/tahitian-pearls-vendor-vs-irl-pictures.205879/[/URL]

Tahitian pearls have body colors (which you should see regardless of the light) and overtone colors, which are going to be easier to see in diffuse indoor light and on overcast days outdoors. In brighter light you may not see the overtone colors much. Vendor photos are taken in the sort of lighting that brings out the overtone colors, to show the pearls to their best advantage. You should not expect the colors to be so distinct or vivid in ordinary lighting.

A multicolor strand will look multicolor in all lighting because it is the body colors that are multi.
A strand that has one basic body color will look more nearly uniform IRL as the overtone differences one sees in the studio shots may not be as evident.
 

Pearlescence

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Oct 3, 2013
Messages
426
With the tooth test it is a light abrasive, it should not feel like you are filing your teeth.
 

ennui

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 28, 2014
Messages
995
In general, with practice, you can tell organic pearls from fake pearls by looking.

I have used the tooth test on inexpensive pearls. The tooth test is another skill that comes from practice. Get some real pearls, get some fake pearls, drag them gently across the flat front of your teeth ... the glass pearls will feel smooth, the organic pearls will feel slightly gritty. I've heard of another tooth test method that involves the edges of your teeth, but I find the flat front surface to be easier and hopefully less hazardous to the pearl.

I would NEVER do the tooth test in a jewelry store, only at garage sales and flea markets. You'd be surprised what people are selling because they're tired of it, or because it was a gift from an ex.
 

lambskin

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 22, 2012
Messages
2,269
LOL re the germ aspect re the tooth test at a B&M store...never thought of it before. :sick: I usually do it if I am looking at a pearl piece at a flea market/antique store/garage/estate sale etc. where a jeweler or warranty or return policy is not present. Since I have some capped teeth, the roughness is hard to detect thus I use a noncapped tooth for the test. It works!
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,234
You don't actually need to use your tooth to do the so-called tooth test. Rubbing one pearl very gently against another pearl works also.

I also recommend using a 10x loupe to look at the surface. Genuine nacre is smooth; imitation is coarser.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
Luv-a-Good-Diamond|1454490403|3986081 said:
Hello All! I've been bitten by the pearl bug! Not sure right now if it's a YAY....or a YIKES! I am reading the comments, questions, suggestions, referrals, etc., and they are very helpful. I notice a few websites that are mentioned a lot. My questions: Should I be concerned with the major difference between the retail prices and selling prices? Why such a huge difference? Are the pearls really as advertised? I really like the Tahitian pearls, and when I see a sell price over $2,000 that's at least a 60-75% discount, I get nervous to spend my money. Am I thinking too much about the psychological pricing strategy (in my mind)?

Also, when at a B/M store, a frequent suggestion to test to see if pearls are real is to rub your teeth across to feel the grit. Is there another more sanitary friendly way to determine if a pearl is real (particularly with so many hands touching the strand...not to mention mouths)? Please, It is not my intention to offend anyone or business; these are some of the first things that came to my mind when I started checking out pearls. Thank you.


Reading this thread again, got me thinking. If you feel the need to distrust your store is selling genuine pearls in their cases, perhaps you should change stores. No reputable jewelry will sell faux pearls as genuine. All pearls will be marked to the type of pearls if you are lucky the size and grade. If they can't tell you if the pearls are freshwater, akoya, South sea white, black or golden, move on.
 

BWeaves

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
346
I've had the exact opposite experience, with fake pearls having the glassy super smooth surface, vs. the real pearls having more texture.

It really depends on the type of fake you're looking at.

It's funny, people think my natural white Hanadamas are fake, because they are so incredibly smooth and shiny and white, while they think my grandmother's Richelieu (plastic from the 1950s) pearls are real.

You can sometimes tell by the weight of the necklace. Plastic bead pearls will feel much lighter than real pearls, while glass based fakes like Majorca and Swarovski pearls will feel much heavier.

I second getting a 10X loupe and looking at the pearls closely.

I would never put something in my mouth that I found at a garage sale or flea market until I'd thoroughly washed it first.
 

NacreLover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 10, 2011
Messages
1,939
I have two types of faux pearls. Glass Tahitian faux and cream and gray faux pearls with mother of pearl beads inside. The MOP faux are the same weight as cultured pearls since they have the same interior. If I have time, I will get them out and take a photo of both of them. Glass pearls are very shiny and is a sure give away.
 

pearlsngems

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
1,234
If only looking with your unaided eyes, then yes, imitation pearls can look smoother. But under 10x magnification, not even Majorica imitation pearls look as smooth as genuine pearls (I do not refer to inclusions, but the nacre surface overall.) I have yet to see any imitation pearl that looks real under 10x magnification.

I just weighed 2 of my strands of the same size (one real, the other Majorica, which has a glass bead) on a electronic kitchen scale. The weight was essentially the same, which confirms what I felt on my neck. Plastic beads are definitely lighter-- it's very easy to tell when the beads are plastic. Swarovski uses lead crystal beads so they would be a bit heavier than ordinary glass.

Last year a jeweler I trust and have bought from on multiple occasions was deceived by a supplier and as a result had a strand of shell pearls in their case, tagged as genuine FWP. After I showed them how I knew they were imitations, the seller, the jeweler returned all the pieces he had gotten from this supplier. Even honest store owners may not know much about pearls; it can't hurt to bring along a 10x loupe when pearl shopping. They are not heavy and fit easily on one's purse or pocket.
 

Luv-a-Good-Diamond

Rough_Rock
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
11
Pearlsngems, thank you for the very, very helpful link! Amazing! I think I like it be than "Show Me Your Pearls". I can't tell you how many times I've ordered something, and it looks NOTHING like the picture!!
 
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