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Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Pearls

Pearl Dreams

Pearl Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
8,921
Acetone can be used to remove gummy residue and glue.

Pearls need moisture (which they can get from the air, or from skin when they are worn) but skin secretions are acidic, which isn't good for pearl nacre (hence wiping them after wearing). Many oils are also acidic, including coconut oil.
 

Camelotshadow

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Jun 12, 2017
Messages
362
I have been trying to remember to every once in a while bring them in a steamy bath. I also apply a dab of spring water every once in a while as I live in the dry San Fernando Valley of LA.

I imagine wiping them with a more alkaline water would better nuetralize the skin acid? Fuji water is about 7.7. I have distilled but I am not going to be than picky with water...LOL Still tap water is bad as its full of chlorine & chemicals!

Oil is a catch 22 like in skin. It may make the pearl shine but it also is a moisture barrier. Moisture will get out less but new moisture can't enter.
I think pearls are best with no coating. Mikmoto gives out silicone coated cloths. Gosh silicone I don;t like as much as I hate dimethicone in hair & skin products. They are very hard to remove!
 

Frost Me

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Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
317
I have read much of the posts. I am still not clear on distilled water, if this is best. I have a water filter on the cold side so I use this with a microfiber cloth for daily wiping. Would distilled be better? I recently spotted a strand of pearls at a antique mall and purchased them. I am not sure if they are really good freshwaters or Akoya, I am leaning on Akoya due to the consistency of the roundness. I tested with nail polish remover to make sure they were not glass coated pearls. Looking through a loupe they look correct, with very very minimal imperfections. They are well matched and a creamy color, and 34" of pearls. I took the advice and removed the old stringing, (they were continuous) no clasp and strung on a stretchy cord to wash. I used Dr. Bonner unscented baby soap is all that I could find. And rinsed well.
 

Frost Me

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Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
317
More pictures, these are not so good. Any thoughts on the type of pearl? They are 7 mm.

IMG_0654.jpg
 
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Pearl Dreams

Pearl Enthusiast
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Sep 24, 2007
Messages
8,921
Can you look inside the drill hole with a loupe? Maybe you can see where the nacre ends and the bead begins. Or try candling with a strong light behind them.

As to distilled water, the reason that is suggested is to avoid hard water minerals and chlorine. Hard water minerals combine with soap (even liquid soap like Dr. Bronner's) to make a hard-to-remove scum.

I have found that when I use water that has passed though our Brita filter I can use Dr. Bronner's without any problem.
 

Frost Me

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Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
317
Can you look inside the drill hole with a loupe? Maybe you can see where the nacre ends and the bead begins. Or try candling with a strong light behind them.

As to distilled water, the reason that is suggested is to avoid hard water minerals and chlorine. Hard water minerals combine with soap (even liquid soap like Dr. Bronner's) to make a hard-to-remove scum.

I have found that when I use water that has passed though our Brita filter I can use Dr. Bronner's without any problem.

Thanks Pearl Dreams, I will look at at the hole!
 

JerseyPearl

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Joined
Apr 25, 2014
Messages
5,856
Couple of suggestions on the iPhone for photos...first tap the center of the image on the screen. That's how you override the auto focus, which may be focusing on another part of the background. Second, don't use the zoom (pinch and open) function. If you have a 7plus, you have 2 cameras in one...you can hit the 1X and zoom to 2X without impacting quality. Finally, you can take a side shot (like this example) by laying the camera on a flat surface on one side so that its looking straight into the field. IMG_0141.jpg
Ah, and I see your first photo was taken this way...it didn't show up initially, just said "attachment" followed by some numbers. You can use that technique, but be sure to override the auto focus and focus on the pearls!
 

Frost Me

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Jun 22, 2014
Messages
317
Thanks Jersey, I have a 7 not the 7plus. It seems my previous phones 4 & 5 took better pearl pics. These with the 7 look grainy, might have been the morning light. Thanks again!
 

amti

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May 26, 2014
Messages
1,847
Thanks for the tips, JP. I have a Pixel and there is something to move up and down on my phone camera and now I know what it does! It has HDR as well, but not sure what that does. I'm off to google it now though. :)
 

ann07cor

New Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2018
Messages
1
I've seen graduated cultured pearls not cared for and not knotted that were worn thru' the nacre. We have always felt that washing weakend the silk and transferred some of the "gunk" to the cord.
 

Ama

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
7
hope this is the right place to post this

hope this is the right place to post this

Found this article by Elisabeth Strack a few days ago and wanted to share & ask some questions;
The acid test: Preserving pearls’ fragile beauty - be sure to click through pages 1 to 5.

If the pearls that touch the neck are most affected by the bodies sweat wouldn't it be better to swap their position when restringing to get even wear on all pearls on the strand?

And I wonder if it is fine to store pearls in pouches made of old silk and wooden boxes(tannin) considering their inherent acidic characterists when wet?
 

Pearl Dreams

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Sep 24, 2007
Messages
8,921
If you are sweating, you are not just sweating on the back of your neck but also on your throat area. Any pearls in contact with skin will get sweat and oils on them. I usually wear pearls directly on my skin, so I clean them by wiping them with a damp hand, then dry them with a soft microfiber cloth after wearing them. Water removes salty sweat, and microfiber is effective at removing oils.

I sometimes rearrange my pearls a bit when I restring them, but not to preserve them-- I do it if I like the arrangement better. Restringing on a synthetic thread like Serafil or Beaders Secret (which are polyester) means the necklace can be washed more often, too-- no silk to get stretched out. Many pearl necklaces (especially Tahitian and south sea) are somewhat graduated in size, which limits how much rearranging one can do. I've also found that sometimes the pearls nearest the clasp have slightly larger drill holes to accommodate the thread when back-knotted.

I was surprised to see the recommendation about dishwashing detergent and alcohol. I use dish soap to clean my eyeglasses-- it doesn't damage antireflective coatings, and doesn't contain moisturizers which can leave greasy smudges-- but I don't think I want to trust it with my pearls. The dish detergent I use is fragrant and bright blue! I prefer unscented Bronner's liquid soap, which has no fragrances or dyes, or baby wash. Also, I don't like alcohol touching my pearls as I tend to think it will dry them out. (Going back to eyeglasses-- alcohol can damage anti-reflective coatings if used often, and it dries out plastic frames and makes them more brittle.)


Interesting question about silk pouches and wooden boxes...but as long as they are dry, perhaps it isn't much of a problem? :confused: However I realize acid-free containers and papers are used for long term protection of important things like art, or wedding dresses.
 
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pearl-man

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Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
266
cleaning

cleaning

Quality pearls are durable, but proper care is necessary to keep them beautiful and lustrous. Here are important tips to care for your pearls. If you're anything like me, I like to wear my pearls everywhere so I take special precautions so that they will maintain their allure.

Gently wipe the pearls with a warm, damp cloth to remove body oils or dirt (which may harm the colors) before putting them away.

Keep pearls away from chlorine bleach, vinegar, ammonia, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics, as these substances will damage the pearl surface. Make sure to put pearls on after finished spraying perfume or hairspray and putting on makeup. Also, remove pearls before exercising to keep them away from perspiration. Be very careful with substances as they will eat holes in the pearl nacre.

Wash pearls periodically with mild soap (NOT detergent) and a soft cloth. When finished washing the pearls, rinse them in clean water and wrap them in a thin, damp cotton towel to dry. If the pearls are especially dirty, wipe the pearl with acetone polish remover. Acetone will not hurt pearls. DO NOT use jewelry cleaners with ammonia or vinegar in them.

Pearls should be stored away from other objects or jewelry that may scratch the pearls’ surface. Wrap the pearls in linen, soft cloth, or place in a soft pouch. Do NOT store pearls in an airtight package such as a plastic bag because pearls need moisture. If the environment is too dry, the pearls may crack. If placing the pearls in a safety deposit box or in a hot environment, leave a damp cloth nearby.

Restring pearls once a year if worn often. Be sure to have each pearl knotted separately, preferably with silk, so they do not rub together and wear on the pearl nacre. If pearls are very small, knots between each pearl may be undesirable.

Amanda Raab
President
PurePearls.com

Hi: Great and accurate advice. Our company has been doing pearls since 1939 when my mother started the business. I would just take issue about washing without restringing. If your recommendations are followed washing frequently will not be needed. We string onto a temp cord of cotton and use ivory and a difficult technique to describe. dry and slide onto silk.
pearl-man
 
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