Jewelry Care Series – Pearls

January 4, 2012

My most recent pearl purchase

How to take care of your pearls.

We thought it might be about time for another entry on jewelry care. Last time we wrote about how to care for your rings, this time we wanted to talk a little bit about taking care of your pearls. Maybe one of you were lucky enough to receive the famous La Peregrina Pearl Necklace from Liz Taylor’s collection over the holidays?

Pearls are organic gemstones that are vulnerable to acid, alkaline and extreme humidity. As with most jewelry, you should put on your pearl jewelry after you’ve finished applying make-up, hair products, cremes and perfumes. The luster of your pearls can be harmed by these products, as well as by perspiration, so it’s a good idea to wipe them down with a soft cloth after you’ve finished wearing them.

Pearls are delicate and can easily be scratched by sharp objects or other gemstones. I know we just spent lots of time preaching the cause of proper jewelry storage in our last entry, but in this case, it’s also relevant. Pearls should be stored away from other jewelry to prevent scratching. Our M. Flynn pouches and boxes are actually great storage tools for pearls. The soft pouch keeps the piece together, while the box is sturdy enough protect pearls from damage while in a drawer or during traveling.

A few no-nos: Never use a plastic bag. If you store your pearls in a safety deposit box, fill a small shot glass with a bit of water to prevent “crazing” or small fractures on pearls caused by dry conditions. Never hang your pearl strands because it will cause stress on the string.

As a pearl strand owner, you should expect to have your piece restrung every two to three years and more frequently if you wear them weekly. We hand-knot many of our pearl strands, but some less expensive freshwater strands are on wire. The traditional hand-knot versions are usually a bit more expensive but if the strand breaks, you will only lose a few instead of all of the pearls in the subway.

Pearls can be gently cleaned with a mixture of a bit of ivory soap and warm water with a soft towel. After using the soap, dip in cool water and let the piece completely air dry on a soft towel.

Don’t worry, none of this is as daunting as it sounds. Pearls are a classic and timeless jewelry staple, and like most things in life, they just require a little bit of TLC.