How to Take Care of your Pearls

By: Kingston Amadan

Whether you have natural pearls, cultured pearls, freshwater pearls or saltwater pearls, your pearls will require a small amount of care to keep them lustrous and beautiful. Pearls are the result of a foreign substance, such as a parasite or waterborne organic material, entering an oyster or clam. The clam builds layer upon layer of nacre over the foreign body, which is what gives pearls their pearlescence. Because this is a natural process that takes place over many years, as opposed to centuries for the formation of a diamond, pearls are somewhat fragile compared to many other gemstones used in jewelry and must be treated with care.

Pearl necklaces (not pendants) need to be restrung every ten years to ensure that the cord holding them won't break.

There is nothing worse than losing several thousand dollars worth of pearls because of a compromised cord, but it happens regularly. The re-stringing process won't harm your pearls and shouldn't affect the aesthetics of the necklace when done properly.

Cleaning pearls is simple. Use a dry, soft cloth, or, if necessary, a slightly damp cloth. Pearls which have developed a film from lotions or makeup can be cleaned with a solution of gentle soap and water placed on a soft cloth, although it's better to you're your pearls away from these substances. Whenever your pearls come in contact with water, either through the cleaning process or otherwise, be sure to let them air dry before putting them away.
You should never use solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents to clean your pearls as it can damage or dull them. Abrasive cleaning products will wear away the nacre coating, leaving them lifeless. Ultrasonic cleaners work exceptionally well for many types of jewelry, but are strictly off limits for pearls.
One of the most common mistakes people make with their pearls is storing them with other jewelry without separating the two. Gold, silver, platinum and gemstones can easily scratch pearls if they come into contact with them. Keep them in their own section, away from other jewelry and preferably inside of a soft bag of felt-like material or chamois, when possible.

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