Artificial, faux and fake pearls

The commercial sale of fake, faux and artificial pearls is quite common and many customers ask us about pearls that they have seen or been offered on holiday. For example, no pearls are cultured in Mallorca.

The techniques for creating imitation pearls were first developed in 17th century France and the basic procedures are still in use today. A fish paste called ‘Essence of the Orient’ was made from salmon and herring scales, mixed with varnish and used to coat a hard bead such as alabaster or glass.

The resulting ‘pearl’ was dried and polished, before the process is repeated many times to form imitations of the layers of nacre that are found in a natural and cultured pearl.

Typically, these ‘pearls’ are uniform in appearance and don’t have the unique characteristics of colour, shape and blemishes that you will find in natural or cultured pearls that have been grown in a mollusc. More recently, better examples of fake pearls can be found.

We love the deep lustre of natural and cultured pearls. None of the pearls that we sell at Winterson are made using these imitation techniques.

If you have any questions about our jewellery, please do contact us.