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Identifying and Caring for Your Pearls

Oct 13, 2007
Pearls are highly treasured gems and require proper care in order to ensure a beauty and luster to last a lifetime. Here are some tips for identifying pearls and for taking care of them.

Identifying Imitation Pearls

Imitation pearls are manufactured to simulate both saltwater and freshwater pearls. They are made from glass, plastic, wax, or shell, and coated to mimic the appearance of natural and cultured pearls.

If you are not sure if you have the real thing try the tooth test--gently rub the bead across the biting edge of your front teeth. Imitation pearls will feel smooth; natural and cultured pearls will feel gritty. But here is a word of warning--coated natural and cultured pearls can also feel smooth.

You can also examine the surface using a magnifying glass. The texture of imitation pearls look smooth and even when compared to cultured pearls.

Storage of Pearls

Pearls are a relatively soft gem (2.5-4.5 on the Mohs hardness scale). They are best stored separate from other jewelry types such as metallic chains or diamonds. If stored together, there is significant risk that the pearl nacre could be marred due to rough surface contacts. This can be avoided by storing your pearls in a separate jewelry box, soft bag or satin pouch.

Pearls can also be sensitive to long periods of heat, resulting in drying and discoloring of the natural nacre. So never store your pearls in locations such as safety deposit boxes etc.

Harmful Chemicals and Pearls

Natural pearl nacre consists primarily of calcium carbonate and it is quite sensitive to various types of acids. When wearing pearls, be aware of typical harmful chemicals that your pearls may commonly be exposed to.

These chemicals include: vinegar (salad dressing), alcohol, ammonia, hair spray, bleach, perfume, chlorinated water and a variety of cosmetics. Try to apply cosmetics prior to putting on pearl jewelry. Natural sweat is also mildly acidic. Use a dry or damp cloth to wipe down your pearls before putting them away.

Cleaning Pearls

If harmful chemicals have come in contact with your pearls, clean them with water and a very light detergent such as baby soap. Make sure you rinse clean and wipe your pearls with a dry or moist towel after cleaning. While the pearls are still wet, do not wear them as wet silk strings are more likely to stretch and weaken. In addition, wet silk strings will attract dirt, which is quite difficult to remove.

Restringing your pearls: If you wear your pearls a lot, you should restring them once every 1-2 years. Most jewelers will perform this service at a nominal cost.

Since pearls are organic gems, they benefit from fresh air and moist environments. Pearls should be worn at least once a month to ensure healthy nacre and a beautiful shine.
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Authorized distributor of beautiful pandora bracelets and beads.
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