With a little care, pearls can last a lifetime – or two or three. In many families, it’s traditional to pass cultured pearls from one generation to the next. Cultured pearls are not the most durable of gems, but if they are properly cared for, they can retain their original beauty for generations.
Cultured pearls are very soft and easily scratched or abraded. They should be protected from contact with metal or harder gems. Store cultured pearls in a cloth pouch or wrapped in a soft cloth.
Cultured pearls rate fair on the toughness scale. They won’t shatter easily, but at the same time, you can’t treat them carelessly and expect them to remain undamaged. They might chip or break if they’re not handled fairly gently.
As organic gems, cultured pearls are part water. Maintaining that moisture is one key to cultured pearl stability. Heat alone or heat from intense light can dry cultured pearls and lead to discoloration and cracks in the nacre. To keep cultured pearls from dehydrating, keep them away from heat and excessive dryness.
Another key to cultured pearl stability lies in everyday wear and care. Many chemicals and all acids attack cultured pearls. Perfume, cosmetics, hairspray, and acids in perspiration can damage nacre. Women should put on cultured pearls only after they’ve applied cosmetics and used hair-care products. To help cultured pearls keep their luster, wipe them with a soft, clean cloth after each wearing. Occasionally using a dampened cloth helps them retain moisture as well.
Cultured pearls should be thoroughly cleaned periodically, especially if they’re worn frequently. They should, however, never be cleaned ultrasonically or with steam or ammonia. Detergents and other chemicals can dull nacre and cause surface pitting. Warm, mild soapy water is simple and works well. Rinse and lay wet cultured pearls on a towel to dry. If strung, be sure the string is dry before wearing. Wet string can stretch and attract dirt.
If cultured pearl strands are worn frequently, it’s a good idea to restring them once a year or when the silk string shows signs of wear. Restringing is helpful to ensure against accidentally breaking the thread and losing or damaging valuable cultured pearls.
If your pearls need restringing, our pearl experts are happy to help. We welcome your inquiries about how to maintain the appearance of your pearls for generations to come!