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Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Pearls

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  • Pearl Dreams, I have a question if you don't mind. Do you think The Pearl Doctor can clean extremely dirty pearls? I have pearls that I thought were clean because the looked clean, but I used my loupe and OMG. They are still very very dirty. I bought some distilled water because I thought about letting them soak but if you think TPD would work, I'll just wait until I receive mine.

    I have heard of people using a soft toothbrush to clean really dirty pearl but I'm a bit afraid to do that. They need to be restrung too, but I am concerned that if I take it apart to clean them, it won't look as nice as the original strand that because they are different colors. I'm not sure I can spread the colors out as nice and they are graduated. I hope what I'm trying to say makes sense. I'm sure the drill holes are filthy too. So what do you think would be best? Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

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    • I think a toothbrush is too harsh. I use a microfiber cloth, such as one might use to clean one's eyeglasses. It is soft and won't damage the nacre.

      I don't know if TPD will do the trick, but I'm interested in finding out your results!

      When you clean them, leave them on the current thread to soak. After they are clean, cut them apart one by one, wipe the area around the drill holes clean with a soft cloth, and immediately string them (in order, one by one) onto a thread or a bit of wire, so that they stay in the same order they are in now. Then when you are ready to restring them, they will already be in the correct order.

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      • Thank you so much PD! I'll let you know, hopefully it will be good news

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        • If the strand is really gucky, you could just temp string them (in original order) on Nymo or dental floss (yup, I use plain skinny dental floss). Then you can gently squooish the sudsy water between the beads with your fingers while soaking. Running a piece of cotton thread through the damp pearl a couple of times should pick up any left over dirt. Good luck

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          • What a great idea!

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            • Marianne, I agree, it is a great idea! I will try that soon. I really thought they were clean and worn them for a bit and was totally grossed out when I saw them under 10X loupe lol. Thanks again to everybody who helped me, I will let you know what happens when I'm finished

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              • Originally posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
                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.
                Thanks for your input, Pearl Dreams and Gem Geek! Yes, I do wear my pearls close to my skin, although I do have a Tahitian pearl ring I wear almost every day. I've started to carry a small padded pouch in my purse for my ring so I don't get it lost with the shuffle of mittens coming off and on, etc, and sounds like it may protect it from the cold/wet/general gross of the winter too.

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                • Any guesses as to how long it takes a strand of pearls to dry? I realize that prevailing humidity will be a factor, I'm just wondering if it's a day, three days, a week ... ?
                  "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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                  • Say, 2 days to play it safe.

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                    • I am looking for some pouches to store my growing collection of pearl earrings in between wear I have a couple of silk jewellry rolls that I keep my necklaces etc in but the earrings need their own pouch as I don't want them getting damaged. Failing finding pure silk pouches here in the UK, I have seen some natural linen ones, would these be ok for storing pearls?
                      What do you pearl experts store yours in?

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                      • For those necklaces that came boxed, I store them in their boxes.

                        I also have some silk pouches that I bought years ago, and recently bought some satin pouches at a gem show because they didn't happen to have more of the silk ones.

                        I've seen some linen that is rough-textured and some that is very fine (like that used for handkerchiefs.) I would prefer a fine textured cloth being against my pearls, if possible.

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                        • I travel with this jewel case
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                          • The clutches work well;

                            well, some days not so well, judging by how disheveled my earrings look in the top post.
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                            • That's clever, Lisa! Putting the studs through the holes in the mesh keeps them in place.

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                              • Sometimes pill carriers are handy:
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