As one of the softest precious gems, pearls demand gentler care than metal, diamond or colored stone jewelry. In fact, if we maintained our pearls the same way we did the rest of our collections, we’d likely do them irreparable damage. We at Vienna Jewelry on Maple Avenue would hate to see that happen, so we’d like to offer a few tips on caring for the pearl jewelry you buy in Vienna, VA.
Where chemicals might just soil other gemstones, the pearl’s delicate nacre can be permanently spotted or disintegrated by a variety of chemical and even household items, including chlorine, vinegar, ink, hairspray, makeup, perfume and lemon juice. Even the acidity in a woman’s perspiration can discolor or deteriorate pearls over time. To minimize contact with these harmful substances, pearls should go on last, and come off first.
Once removed, pearls can be wiped with a damp or dry soft cloth (a drop or two of olive oil will improve their sheen) and wrapped in protective tissue or chamois. Don’t store pearls in hot or dry places — this includes safe deposit boxes — because excessive heat or dry air can turn pearls brown, or make them crack. Finally, pearls should never touch other jewelry; hard metal can easily scratch their delicate surfaces.
If worn regularly, pearls need periodic cleaning. But unlike other jewelry, they cannot be cleaned by steam or ultrasonic methods, nor can they be brushed or soaked in ammonia, detergent, bleach, baking soda or cleanser. Even some mild dishwashing liquids can harm pearls. Pearls should be cleaned with commercial products labeled safe for pearls, or with water and a mild, non-detergent soap. Wipe them gently with a cotton cloth, paying special attention to the areas near the drill holes, where dirt can collect.
If you’re cleaning string pearls, lay them flat to dry; never hang or wear them when wet, as the string can stretch, attracting hard-to-remove dirt that accelerates string rot. Because an unexpected broken string can mean lost pearls, it’s best to have frequently-worn pieces restrung annually.
Pearls are meant to be worn, not just so they can be enjoyed but because body temperature actually improves their luster. Properly cared for, they will be worn for a lifetime. Much of the pearl jewelry we get at our pawn shop in Vienna, VA is estate jewelry that has lasted for years because of proper care. Now yours can, too.