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Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Pearls

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  • I don't soak more than 5 minutes in baby wash or Dr. Bronner's Castile soap but if the pearls are very dirty, maybe you would need more time. I got my bottle of the liquid castile soap at the local health food store's cosmetics section. Probably Whole foods would also carry it. I see it online as well.

    About a month ago I decided to try using The Pearl Doctor to clean my pearls-- it is very pricey but you dilute it for use. You let them soak for a couple of minutes and then agitate for another 30 seconds or so, then rinse. It seems very effective. It's pricey, but the cleaner is concentrated and must be diluted for use.

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    • Originally posted by CharmedOne View Post
      I have been soaking pearls in water and baby wash for a couple minutes but I have forgotten about them a few times (chasing after a 5 year old). Sometimes the pearls don't look so great after soaking them in water, almost like the lose luster. Is it better just to wipe them off with damp cloth and then rinse them? I was using regular bottled water but is distiller water better? I am not having good results with cleaning them at all.

      As far as storing them goes. Is putting them in bathroom for a few days a bad idea? Trying to get them more moisture. It's so cold here and just wondering if the heat running all the time is damaging them.
      Hi, just for the fun of physic and chemistry... Distilled water would contain much less mineral ions than water but would not be as good as deionized water. Distilled water is used for lead acid battery as it is less corrosive than tap water. When you humidify a pearl and let it dry, the loss of luster is attributed to the deposit of impurities and mineral on the upper layers of the pearl, hence reducing the refraction and incidence of the light reflection, giving the viewer a sensation of dullness.
      On the mechanical aspect, the faster you dry the pearl the better it is as you would in the process wipe out the in-situ impurities that are found in the water (and there are a lot...), Calcium deposit is the most common form of dullness seen on pearls whenever 'cleaned'.
      For your perusal.
      Last edited by Cyril Roger Brossard; 12-05-2013, 11:47 PM. Reason: typo

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      • Thank you all for your help. I will have to check out the pearl doctor solution. Calcium is hard to get of surfaces at home, it's gotta be even more of a task to get it off a pearl, IF it is even possible to remove. I will definitely have to be more careful in the future. Thanks again. ~d

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        • Originally posted by CharmedOne View Post
          I will have to check out the pearl doctor solution.
          Out of curiosity, would you know what this solution is made of?
          I wonder if it would be a hydrocolloid.
          Are the pearls shiny and lustrous after application / treatment? (May sound like a 'duh' question but are they 'very' shiny is the question)
          Any flagrance noticeable?
          Thanks in advance for the feedback as to satisfy my curiosity...

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          • Cyril,

            I would think the formula is proprietary, a trade secret. I haven't read a word about what is in it.

            I just went to have a whiff of the concentrated Pearl Doctor solution-- it is odorless. A drop on my fingers...slightly slippery, but not as slick as detergent would be-- more like what silicone feels like. It doesn't suds much, even when agitated-- just a few bubbles. It rinses off easily. No abnormal shininess to the pearls when cleaned...they're just clean. I don't get the impression that it is leaving any coating behind. After being cleaned and dried, the pearls are not slick in any way.

            Note that The Pearl Doctor did not remove the hard water deposits I got earlier on my mother-of-pearl beads when I thoughtlessly used our hard tap water to rinse them after carefully using distilled water and Castile soap to wash them. We get dreadful soap scum if we use our tap water with any soap at all. We can only use detergent-based cleansers. The hard water leaves deposits on our pots as well-- these only come off with Barkeeper's Friend. Ha, maybe I should use the Barkeeper's Friend on the MOP beads-- there is nothing to be lost at this point.

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            • Originally posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
              ...Ha, maybe I should use the Barkeeper's Friend on the MOP beads-- there is nothing to be lost at this point.
              hahaha, no just being curious if anything was written on the container itself... in some countries transparency is required when it comes to chemical. Based on your feedback (detailed) one may guesstimate some of the component, alas I am no specialist...
              Thanks for the feedback though. Very much appreciated.

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              • I have been stubborn about trying that stuff- IMO they are TOO proprietary -some indications of what they are doing would be .
                Caitlin

                How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

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                • I guess I don't feel that way-- I see it as intellectual property. Why enable potential competitors?

                  BTW, I tried the Barkeeper's Friend on a single MOP bead that was among the lesser-quality ones, so no regrets if it didn't work to remove the hard water deposits.
                  And it didn't work!

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                  • This is not the first time someone has said that regarding this pearl product. I respect your POV, but why does it get a pass on transparency?

                    I don't see too many competitors for dr bronner's soap, for instance, and he gives you the recipe so you can make it yourself, yet he just keeps growing exponentiially- It's because he brands himself well, not because is formula is proprietary. Even when there are competitors with similar formulas like Tide and All, it may not be bad to have some competition.

                    Meanwhile my freshwater pearls are happy being dunked in mild detergents like my shampoo. Of course, I tend to run my whole house with vinegar (white and cider) baking soda, cream of tarter, coconut oil, h2o2, olive oil, old panty hose, borax, washing soda, laundry soap bars, and a few other basics. I make my own fantastic laundry detergent for 2-3 cents a load from the last 3 ingredients I listed. So my perspective is way out of line with a lot of people's when it comes to cleaning things- I am still in DIYland, LOL.
                    Last edited by Caitlin; 12-07-2013, 01:13 AM.
                    Caitlin

                    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

                    Comment


                    • For the hard water deposits on an mop bead, (that's a first for me) try a little soak in distilled water and a rub with a small wad of panty hose or soft toothbrush to scrub the softening deposits. Neutral ph water will start to break up the hard water deposits without being dangerous as something more acid might be.


                      .....I was just wondering if a scrub with xylitol toothpaste would do the same... When I first switched to it, a few tartar deposits broke up and have never come back. My dentist refused to charge me for a cleaning last time I went. Sorry for going SO off topic.
                      Caitlin

                      How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

                      My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
                        I guess I don't feel that way-- I see it as intellectual property. Why enable potential competitors?
                        You could not be more right, I remember while still being student participating to a forum in which various suppliers would present their product. When I asked separately one of them if the 'secret ingredient' he used for his charcoal based filter was a mixture based on distilled water, he smiled, asked my name and told me not to repeat his trade secret as it would affect his market share... In my opinion information is out there within reach of anyone, and mind you at that time INTRANET was nowhere near the Internet we have today. Intellectual property is only limited by intellectual capability, nothing else... I think (in my case at least) it is more to satisfy inner curiosity rather than engaging into competition, but you definitely have a point in saying that the least number of competitor out there, the better it is for one's own market.

                        So if The Pearl Doctor works, then good for them... still am wondering what are the main identifiers.

                        Originally posted by Caitlin View Post
                        FI was just wondering if a scrub with xylitol toothpaste would do the same...
                        Xylitol is a perfect example of transparent product, they named it after the crystal ((2R,4S)-Pentane-1,2,3,4,5-pentol) and is recorded within the FDA. Wonder what it would do to carbonate calcium (no enamel there)... Have you tried?

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                        • Caitlin,
                          Thank you. I did actually use the distilled water with a scrubby cloth before trying anything else, and the manual abrasion did remove quite a lot of the scum. But still they are duller than I remember them-- or perhaps my memory is off and they were never that shiny to begin with. No matter. I decided to abandon that project as I found a pretty strand of natural colored MOP 10mm beads yesterday at a local consignment shop, for almost nothing.

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                          • Hello, all! I'm a long time lurker, first time poster
                            I'm a new pearl collector & have found the forum to be a wealth of helpful info! I've been scouring this thread but didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so here goes: Are there any special precautions to take when wearing pearls in extremely cold weather? I live in Minneapolis, and the temp today is something like -6. I hate the idea of shelving my pearls until springtime! It seems like perhaps, if anything, cold weather could "dry" the pearls out more quickly than a mild climate would...maybe I need to take care to rub a drop of olive oil on my pearls I wear during the winter?

                            kate

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                            • That is a really good question. The subject has come up before, but I am not sure what the outcome was. I think the problem is not the cold, but the sudden change in temperature. If a pearl has a bead inside, that bead is of a different density than the surrounding nacre. The separate contraction or expansion of the two materials could cause cracks in the nacre.

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                              • Interesting topic for sure!

                                Of course, in that sort of cold you are wearing a warm coat and probably a scarf as well, so the pearls would not be exposed to the cold quite so suddenly. Maybe you could wear the pearls under clothing, next to skin, for added heat and moisture when it's very cold out, then return them to their place over your clothing when you get to your destination?

                                Olive oil would stain and saturate the silk thread; personally I wouldn't recommend that.

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