Fine cultured pearls can last for generations. But, more than most gems, they do require gentle, loving care to maintain their singular beauty.
Most pearls that we see in jewelry these days are cultured pearls. The unique look of these pearls is created by the nacre, a patina that is created by the clam or oyster.
It is a unique material that displays a wonderfully pleasing interplay of light and color, but it is also relatively soft and porous, compared to other popular gems.
The thickness of this nacre is determined by the length of time the pearl is left in the clam. The thicker the nacre, the more valuable the pearl; protecting this outer layer is of utmost importance. Here’s important information that every pearl lover should know…
Pearls are very susceptible to damage from chemicals. Thus, cosmetics, perfumes and hair care products should be applied before putting on pearls, and they should not be applied to parts of the body where they will touch your pearls. Also:
Heat can damage pearls. Blow-dry your hair before putting on pearl jewelry.
The chemicals in pools, hot tubs and even in tap water can be too harsh for pearls. Do not swim or shower while wearing pearls.
Store pearl jewelry separately from other jewelry. Metals and other harder gemstones can scratch pearls. They are best stored in a soft cloth pouch or lined jewelry box.
Do not store pearls in plastic. Nacre is an organic material that needs to breath.
Restring pearl necklaces periodically, depending on how often they are worn. They definitely need to be restrung when the knots are discolored or the necklace appears stretched.
Most experts recommend silk thread for pearl necklaces but nylon is also considered acceptable. The string should be knotted between each pearl. This prevents all the pearls in a strand from scattering should a break occur. Knotting also prevents the pearls from rubbing against each other, which can damage nacre.
Wear your pearls often. The body’s natural oils increase the luster and beauty of pearls.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR PEARLS:
Here is what you will need to properly clean your pearls:
- Mild detergent such as Ivory or Sunlight
- A small bowl
- Warm water
- Small strainer (if cleaning earrings or rings)
- Soft cotton cloths
Make sure you close the drain of the sink or insert a strainer into the drain, in order to avoid your precious pearls from disappearing down the drain should you inadvertently drop them.
- Fill the bowl with about 2 cups of warm water. Make sure the water is warm and not hot!
- Add a few drops of the aforementioned mild detergent and mix them up.
- Dip the soft cloth in the solution and gently wipe off each pearl. Do not soak a string of pearls in the solution as this may cause the string to stretch.
- Place the pearls on a soft towel or hang and allow to air-dry overnight.
Never use an ammonia-based jewellery cleaner or any other harsh chemicals to clean pearls. It will cause the nacre to rub off , leaving you with a plain bead. Also never place pearl jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner.
By following these few simple rules, and applying regular care, you will help keep your pearls look their best and last for generations.
Should you have any additional questions about this or any other jewellery related topics, you can always: “Ask the Jeweller”
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