This is the third set of faux pearls I have posted here on my site. Since there is also no mark or maker on these pearls (as with most vintage faux pearls) I will do my best to describe some of the qualities fo this set that cannot be easily identified in a photo.
These may look and feel like real pearls to an untrained eye. They are an off-white/light cream color and fairly heavily weighted. They have an iridescent sheen that resembles the sheen of real pearls. They are individually knotted, which is something one expects in a strand of real pearls. The last pearl before the clasp is smaller than the rest of the strand, which are otherwise fairly uniform. The clasp looks like it might be made of gold. Because they are heavy they sort of clink when they drop together (onto your hand or on to a table.) Don’t be fooled however! These pearls are leaded glass and (in my experience) are also likely painted with high lead paint to achieve the “almost real” pearl finish!
When tested with an XRF instrument these pearls came in at 6,774 (+/- 195) ppm lead (Pb). They were negative for cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), and mercury (Hg). For comparison, lead is considered toxic in newly manufactured items intended for use by children at 90 parts per million lead and higher.
My concern with costume jewelry like this is that children (or even older teens and young women) are often seen with the strand of pearls pulled up from their neck and partly draped in their mouth as a fidget, it’s a very common thing to observe even if you don’t think you would be likely to do that yourself. Of course it is never a good idea to put anything with lead in it in your mouth. Additionally for the faux pearls that are often painted with high lead paint (and therefore often test positive with a reactive agent swab test), the micro-dust of the paint can easily wear off on the wearers’ hands, especially given the age of many of these pearls (often from the 1940s and 50s.)
Note: the faux pearls that are made to look and feel like real pearls (the ones generally made of glass) are more likely to be painted with high lead paint than the lighter plastic ones, although this is not always the case.
#SimpleSolution, #SaferChoice: buy only REAL pearl necklaces (modern real pearls actually can be found in fairly inexpensive options) – and ideally with really silver clasps. Alternately choose necklaces with natural stones. Here is a post with more information about that!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions!