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Why Take Care of Your Pearls?
Take Care of Your Pearls and Their Beauty Will Last
Pearls are organic gems of many colors which are the result of irritations inside the shells of mollusks, and like all things organic, will breakdown over time. Pearls are extremely easy to care for, with very few rules for extending their beauty and making them last a lifetime. With proper care, you may even be able to hand them down over the generations.
Pearls are a timeless adornment which have been worn for thousands of years by men and women. At one time, in Europe, only the rich could wear pearls. Today, anyone, young or old, can wear pearls for nearly any occasion. Take a look around. You will see pearls with the ubiquitous little black dress, but they look just as fabulous with a pair of vintage styled jeans.
Pearls can be purchased as naturally grown, cultured or faux. They are found mollusks in the sea or in riverbeds. For some lucky diners, they have even turned up on dinner plates on occasion.
One way to tell if a pearl is a product of nature is to gently rub them across your teeth. They should feel gritty because of the many layers of nacre that is deposited over time. Not so with glass. The test is not an infallible, but it is usually reliable. I've tried the comparison test with my own pearls and it and it has worked for me.
It should be noted that the easiest part of taking care of pearls is to wear them often. When not worn the loose their luster. Wearing them keeps them warmed and bright.
Unlike diamonds, emeralds other hard gems that come from the earth, pearls are a soft gem. Because the surface of a pearl is made of layers of organic material called nacre and nacre contains the oils that provide the luster to the pearl, careful storage is required. Long term storage in humidity controlled environments like a safe deposit box, will only dry the oils and the pearls will lose their luster. Extremely hot environments are also damaging to your pearls.
They should never be stored with other gems because the hardness of other gems and metals will scratch and scar them. Instead, store them separately, preferably laying flat in the jewelry box.
When traveling with your pearls, store them alone in a soft jewelry pouch .
If you are wearing your pearls often, as you should, know that they are adversely affected by perspiration, consequently it is best not to wear your natural pearls during exercise and definitely save your very best pearls for the very special occasion.
Although television shows of the fifties would have you think otherwise, it may not be wise to wear your pearls while cleaning. They should not come in contact with acidic liquids such as vinegar or lemon juice. A few other things to avoid include ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaning, dish or washer detergents, bleaches, powder cleaners, baking soda and ammonia based cleaners. In other words, don’t use any type of abrasives on your pearls, and it’s even a good idea to refrain from wearing them with rough cloths, like wool. The uneven surface of the pearl could be easily chipped and damaged.
When getting dressed, make pearls the last thing you put on. You don't want them to come in contact with perfume or hairspray. Both will damage the outer layers and hasten the loss of luster.
If your pearls must be cleaned because they are exceptionally dirty (it is usually the string that is dirty), have them professionally cleaned. And never, whether they are real, cultured or faux, soak your pearls. The objective is to avoid getting the string wet. That means wearing your pearls to the pool or the beach is unwise because you run the risk of the string getting wet. If they should happen to get wet take them off immediately. Never wear your pearls wet or hang them to dry. Letting them hang will stretch the string and loosen the strands.
Have your pearls restrung at least once per year if you wear them often. When dressing, it’s a good idea to put your pearls on last, since contact with makeup and hairspray can strip the pearl’s luster.
Last, if you want to maintain that beautiful luster of your gem, a drop of olive oil or mineral oil on a clean, soft cloth rubbed gently on the pearl's surface can help maintain its luster. There are also special cleaners, but it is best to consult a professional when considering cleaning them with these special cleaners.
A gem for all ages and for both genders, "pearls have power," writes Ki Hackney and Diana Edkins in their book People and Pearls: The Magic Endures. Pearls evoke drama, pearls evoke innocence and at the same time, pearls are sexy. In short, pearls make a statement. Pearls have no affectations: pearls come as they are, a special delivery from nature needing no polishing, no cutting, and no special circumstances for wearing. They are some of the most beautiful, yet easiest gems to take care of. With just a few simple guidelines to follow, when you take special care of your pearls, you will be rewarded with gems of lasting beauty.
Copyright Cynthia B. Turner 2016