According to Berj Zavian, a master jeweler for over fifty years and a frequent guest on The Antiques Roadshow, the simple response to; “what can you always give a girl?” should always be: “why pearls, of course.” With such a special gift, you may also want to tell her how to care for and clean pearl jewelry.
Natural, iridescent, luminous pearls are organic gems that grow within oysters and clams. Until the 1920s, pearl diving or pearl hunting was the way most jewelers came by them to craft exquisite jewelry pieces.
While the Jazz Age marked the beginning of the end of naturally-occurring pearls found in the deep ocean, it was the very start of the cultured pearl industry. Natural pearls hold any irritant captive, whether it’s a grain of grit or a worm, and systematically secrete calcium carbonate, otherwise known as nacre (nay-ker), over and over creating layers which over time becomes a beautiful pearl.
Today, cultured-pearl growers produce pearls of various types by inserting a seed into an oyster, and in the past, many pearl growers experimented with beads, both plastic and glass. But by far the most exquisitely cultured pearls are those whose seed is a
How to Care for and Clean Pearl Jewelry
The most important thing to remember when you clean pearl jewelry is to never, ever use an abrasive cleanser. Every time a cleanser is used you’re scraping away the pearls’ natural surface, luster
Store Pearl Jewelry in a Box or Pouch lined with Velvet or Some Other Soft Material
These days most pearls come with a special drawstring bag lined with soft material, making it easier to store them anywhere you please. Always store them away from sunlight as pearls can fade or discolor.
Cosmetics Can Alter the Natural Beauty of Pearl Jewelry
After every sixth wear, wash the pearls in mild soapy water. Be sure to use a very gentle mild soap without additives, fragrances, or colors. Use another damp soft cloth to wipe clean and air dry pearl jewelry before putting them away. Clasps can be cleaned with jewelry cleaner. Use a small dab of it on a Q-tip to carefully wipe the metal to ensure the liquid or paste does not come into contact with the pearls.
Remove Pearls When Exercising
While this might be a given, you shouldn’t be wearing pearls while exercising or swimming. Chlorine can permanently damage pearls.
Can Pearls be Scratched?
Yes, pearls can get scratched when stored with other jewelry with sharp angles or clasps. Since we do so much with our hands, pearl rings and bracelets are very susceptible to dents and scratches. With one pearl mounted on a ring setting, it can easily dislodge if bumped or hit by another object. If the nacre appears damaged there is not much a jeweler can do.
Do Pearls Yellow over Time?
Pearls can yellow and become brittle and dull. Wear pearls often so that the pearl jewelry has circulating air and moisture. Without either, pearls can yellow with age. Remember once pearls have dried out, you cannot revive their original color or luster.