The Maupassant Game: Is it Real or Paste?

February 15, 2012

Can you tell the difference?

A game inspired by Guy de Maupassant‘s story The Necklace

The Necklace” tells the story of Madame Mathilde Loisel who always dreamed of living an aristocratic life surrounded by fine food, beautifully decorated rooms, and wonderful jewels. However, she is married to a low paid clerk who tries his best to make her happy. Through extensive begging, he is able to get Mathilde an invitation to a high society party and gives her his savings to buy a fancy evening dress. Mathilde is still not happy since she has no jewels to wear with her new gown. She borrows a diamond necklace from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier, but after attending the party, Mathilde discovers that she has lost the borrowed necklace!

To avoid her friend’s wrath, Mathilde and her husband borrow money from loan sharks to buy a diamond necklace that looks just like the one that was lost. It takes them ten years of hard labor to come up with the 36,000 francs necessary to pay off the debt. Soon after the loans have been paid, Mathilde sees Madame Jeanne Forestier and confesses that she lost and subsequently replaced the diamond necklace all those years ago. Mme. Forestier, deeply moved, tells Mathilde that the necklace she had borrowed was made of paste, not real diamonds, and that it was worth, at most, 500 francs!

When you see the word “paste” near the word “jewelry,” you can bet that it’s probably not the gluey sticky stuff you use to make paper mache. Paste is actually glass that has been cut and colored to resemble gemstones. We call modern pastes rhinestones, but historical paste stones weren’t mass produced like today’s. Historical paste was often hand-cut by a jeweler, just like their gemstone counterparts. It’s often difficult to tell a real stone from a paste one. Mathilde found this out the hard way!

Are you smarter than Mathilde? I’ve compiled a collection of amazing antique pieces from a variety of eras to test your skills and paired them up in similar styles. One of each pair is has real gemstones and one is paste…maybe. ;)

Will you make Mathilde’s 36,000 franc mistake?

Guess which of these jewels are real or paste!


Round 1: Earrings!


Round 2: Parures (Sets)


Round 3: Necklaces


Round 4: Pendants!


Round 5: Rings


Round 6: Pins

Stumped? Confident? Smug? Frazzled?

Every picture is linked to its description page, so you can check your answers! Just click on each image to find out which ones are natural stones and which are paste.

One Response to “The Maupassant Game: Is it Real or Paste?”

  1. […] 18th Century Paste Earrings from The Three Graces, circa 1770 It’s often difficult to tell paste stones from real ones. Test your identification skills by playing “The Maupassant Game: Is it Real or Paste?“ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: