How do you make a fake pearl?

June 13, 2011

Although The Pearl Girls only deal with genuine, cultured pearls (of course),  there are many imitation pearls on the market, and their production is fascinating. One of the most popular imitation pearl originated on a Mediterranean island of Spain called Majorca. These Majorca pearls are shaped glass beads covered in a substance called essence d’orient. This solution is made primarily of crystalline guanine which is extracted from fish scales. Pearly paints, nail polish and shampoo also have this fish scale extract. When the thin, crystalline structure of guanine interacts with light it gives the appearance similar to a pearl.

Manufacturers take the glass beads and dip them into the solution then dry, clean and polish them. They may repeat this process up to 30 times and after the last time they coat the bead with a lacquer. And the Majorca pearl is made!

Other imitation pearls have similar processes. They originate with a glass or plastic bead and it is coated in a substance that resembles the look of a pearl. Manufacturers will create imitation pearls in all shapes and sizes in their attempt to imitate the real thing!



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