Caring for your Pearls
Pearls are one of the most feminine and flattering of jewels, equivilant to a Little Black Dress and something that no jewellery case should be without. The pearl's lustre and iridescence creates a soft glow on the skin and it is important to follow some simple rules to maintain their beauty.
Pearls are flattering and feminine
Wear your pearls as often as you wish. The natural oils from your skin will moisturize the pearls as they lie against your skin, preserving them for a long time to come.
Pearls are delicate
Pearls are vulnerable to all acids, including perfume and hairspray. It is recommended that their owner apply all make-up, hairspray and perfume first, wash hands and then put on the pearls as the final touch. Excessive or acid perspiration as produced by aerobic exercise can reduce the lustre of pearls, as can contact with soap. Chlorinated or treated water, as normally found in tap water, can have an equally damaging effect. The acids and chemicals in treated water eat away at the surface, eventually leaving the pearl with no lustre or worse still with no nacre covering at all.
After wear it is best to wipe the pearls
Using a slightly damp, clean, soft cloth, wipe your pearls to remove any residual perspiration or perfume, which would eat away at the surface. Lay them on a dry, clean cloth to dry out overnight. Do not be tempted to wear a strand of pearls when they are still damp or wet, as the silk will stretch and leave unsightly gaps between the pearls.
Store pearls in their original packaging
Store your pearls in the original packaging. If pearls are carelessly stored in a jewellery box with other harder materials, like diamonds, they will scratch. If a necklace is stored hanging the weight of the pearls on the necklace will reduce the elasticity and strength of the silk on which they are strung. It is important to re-string pearls every year if worn frequently, or as soon as the thread begins to stretch to avoid the risk of the thread breaking and losing the entire strand.
Do not swim in your pearls
Chlorinated or otherwise treated water is very damaging to the surface of any pearl as it will eat away at the nacre, eventually leaving either a dull pearl or a pearl with no nacre coating on it at all, just nucleus bead. Salt water is particularly damaging to the thread used in stringing, as when it dries the salt becomes abrasive on the thread and this increases the risk of the necklace breaking.
Remove earrings and rings by their setting
Always remove jewellery by its setting. If rings, earrings or brooches are removed by the pearl attached to the jewellery fitting, it will strain the pearl's contact point with the setting and might cause the pearl to fall off.
How not to clean pearls
Never clean pearls with a toothbrush or scouring pad to remove a stubborn piece of dirt - this will scratch them forever. Do not attempt to clean pearls with detergents, bleaches, powdered cleaners, baking soda, dishwashing liquid, lemon, vinegar or even commercial jewellery cleaners, unless the label specifically stipulates that the cleaner is specifically designed for pearls. Ammonia is usually present in commercial jewellery cleaners and will irreparably damage pearls.
Never "test" your pearl by biting it
It is not advisable to bite any pearl or pass it across your teeth as pearls are softer than our teeth. The 'teeth test' is not only unhygienic but also damaging to the pearl surface, which may be scratched.