The beauty of a cultured pearl is directly related to the condition of its surface. Cultured pearls can be very durable, but only if they are properly cared for and stored in a manner that preserves their luster.
Compared to most gemstones and metals used in jewelry, cultured pearls are relatively soft and will react with certain types of chemicals, especially acids. If you want your pearls to be just as beautiful 20 years from now as they are today – then you must take proper care of them now!
Normally your skin’s perspiration will be slightly acidic, however, some people’s skin is more acidic than normal. If inexpensive costume jewelry turns your skin “green”, then your skin type is more acidic. Over time, pearls will gradually absorb this acid, which will then begin to dissolve the pearl’s nacre.
This will cause the pearl to lose its luster and to possibly develop small pits or even become barrel-shaped. Cosmetics, perfume and harsh cleaning agents can also contain chemicals that will damage the surface of your pearls.
Pearls are also somewhat sensitive to temperature and humidity. Heat can cause your pearls to turn brown and dry air may even cause them to crack. You should not store your pearls in a safe deposit box at your bank because many safe deposit vaults have very dry air.
The DO’s of Pearl Care:
Put your pearls on last and take them off first! – Put them on after you have applied all makeup, hair spray and perfume.
Clean off your Pearls – After you take them off, gently wipe them with a soft, damp cloth before you put them away.. This will remove any perspiration or body oils that may be on your pearls and keep dirt from accumulating. A drop of olive oil on the cloth will also help maintain your pearls luster.
If your pearls are very dirty, you can clean them with either a special pearl cleaner (make certain that it is safe for pearls – many commercial jewelry cleaners are not safe for pearls and will damage them), or a very mild soap. After washing your pearls, dry them by laying them flat on a moist kitchen towel. Your pearls should be dry when the towel is dry.
Have your pearls string checked once a year by a jeweler to be certain that the silk is not frayed or broken. If your pearls need to be restrung, use silk thread and make sure that there is a knot on each side of every pearl. This will keep the pearls from rubbing together and will prevent the entire pearl necklace from falling apart if the silk thread should ever break.
Store your pearls in a pearl protection folder to maintain their luster and beauty.
The Don’ts of Pearl Care:
- Do not store them with other metal or gemstone jewelry in an ordinary jewelry box. This will cause excessive wear to the pearls.
- Do not store pearls in a plastic bag or other air tight enclosure. Pearls need moisture to maintain their beauty.
- Do not use jewelry cleaners containing ammonia, vinegar or bleach to clean your pearls.
- Do not use or expose your pearls to any kind of dish or laundry detergents, any type of bleach, powdered cleansers, baking soda, floor cleaners, or window cleaners.
- Do not use toothbrushes, any type of scouring pad or any kind of abrasive materials to clean your pearls.
- Do not use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner to clean your pearls.
- Do not wear your pearls when the string is wet.
- Do not hand your pearls to dry.
- Do not wear your pearls when applying cosmetics, hair spray or perfume.
- Do not wear your pearls when showering, exercising or swimming.
- Do not wear your pearls with rough fabrics such as Shetland Wool.