How To Properly Care For Pearls
The Composition of Pearls.
Did you know that pearls are organic gems? In fact they are the only gem in the world that is produced by living creatures—mollusks. The specific composition of these gems, calcium carbonate, is what makes them beautiful, rare, and hard to care for. Overtime people have come up with pearl knotting, specific pearl stringing methods, and particular ways of pearl cleaning in order to protect these little treasures. Because pearl care can be a little tricky, special attention must be paid in order to ensure the longevity and beauty of these truly unique and gorgeous gems.
So Why Do Pearls Need Special Care?
Unlike hard gemstones and other precious metals, pearls are different in that they are made of a softer material. A pearl is made when a grain of sand, or some other small particle, manages to enter and embed itself within the soft mantel tissue of a mollusk. In an attempt to sooth the irritation caused by the intruding particle the mollusk will coat it in nacre—a substance that hardens into a beautiful iridescent shell. This happens over and over creating multiple layers of nacre, which eventually results in the birth of a pearl. The method by which particles end up embedded in mollusks can happen naturally or as is most often the case today, it happens artificially via human intervention through a process called “planting.”
The organic process through which a pearl is made means that it is susceptible to damage from hair sprays, perfumes, cosmetics and even the natural oils that are released by the body as well as perspiration. All of these factors could end up clouding the pearl’s natural luster as well as dulling its brilliance.
Pearls and Cosmetics
When it comes to cosmetics, pearl cleaning is very important. Always remember to apply things like perfume, hairspray, and makeup before you put your jewelry on. By doing this you effectively minimize any direct contact that your pearls have to these harmful substances. But by far the most important step in maintaining your pearls comes after you take them off. It is essential to the longevity of your pearls to wipe them off with a soft wet cloth after wearing them in order to remove any lingering traces of oils. Also, every once in a while you can wash these organic gems in water along with a very mild soap for a more thorough cleaning.
The Way You Store Your Pearls Is Important
The delicate surface of a pearl has to be protected. For that reason, when used to make a necklace, pearl knotting is a preferred way of putting the piece together. By ensuring that there is a tiny knot between each pearl, the gems are kept from rubbing and potentially damaging each other. For this same reason, pearls should not be stored directly with other harder gems because it could result in scratches and damage to their lustrous surface. If you can, wrap them carefully in cloth or within a soft-lined pouch, jewelry box, or container.
Proper Pearl Care Means Occasional Restringing and Knotting
Although a pearl is an organic gemstone, when it is properly cared for it can last for a very long time—thousands of years even. Caring for pearls begins with ensuring that they are properly worn, cleaned, and stored but the jewelry itself also requires a little maintenance. Proper pearl stringing is important in order to ensure the piece’s beauty, but pearl knotting as stated above also prevents the pearls from rubbing against each other and getting damaged. And in the unfortunate event that your strand should break, having them knotted will prevent you from losing your pearls. However, the material used to string and knot pearls can grow weak with time so getting your pearls periodically restrung and knotted is important. We recommend once a year if you wear your pearls often.