Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Take Care of Your Jewelry - Pearls

Almost everyone I know has at least one pearl piece in their jewelry cupboard be it a ring, bracelet, necklace or ear-rings. So for this "taking care of your jewelry" series, I thought I'd start with pearls.

Pearls are organic materials made up of calcium carbonate which means they need special treatment if they are to continue to look beautiful as part of our jewelry collection. When pearls come into contact with chemicals like perfume, makeup, hair products and even household cleaners, they tend to deteriorate and discolor.

Their surface is soft and easily damage as well. Rings and bracelets made from pearls are especially prone to scratching so it's not advisable to wear them on a daily basis. My advice is to keep them for special occasions.

As a rule, pearls are the LAST thing you put on and the FIRST thing you take off.

Strands of pearls should be stored separately since they can scratch each other. Use a silk bag, velvet box or a pearl folder. Never ever store pearls in a plastic bag! Some plastic emit chemicals and will cause the pearls to discolor and deteriorate. Don't store pearls in a safe deposit box. The dry air (which protects papers) will cause the pearls to dry out, causing tiny fractures. Store pearls flat so that the threads will not stretch.

Stringing and Knotting
Stringing is recommended for pearls 5mm and above. Strands need to be restrung every 2-3 years (every year if you wear your pearls often). Knots are made between each pearl to prevent them from scratching each other. Knotting also prevents dust and dirt from entering the drill holes of the pearls as well as offers security so that if your strand breaks, you will only lose one pearl. Usually silk or nylon threads are used. Good knotting hangs well.

Use a mild soap diluted in warm water (I like to use Woolite) and use a soft natural bristle brush to gently brush the pearls. Rinse in cold water for at least 3-5 minutes. Allow the pearls to air dry at least 24 hours before storing.

Since pearls are organic, they will naturally darken slightly with age and wear. Sometimes they get creamy stains which cannot be removed. So if you want your pearls to last, do take a few minutes to take care of them and they will serve you for a long time to come!

Here at Rebecca Yam Jewelry, I offer restringing and knotting services. I will clean your pearls for you when I do the restringing. Do contact me if you need my help with your pearl jewelry.

Next week, we will learn about the different kinds of pearls available and how to select them.