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Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Pearls

pearlshoppe

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
50
Ok I've read everyone's take on cleaning of pearls. I've never run mine under water because of fear it would stretch silk too much, but I do rub my hands in a little olive oil, very light film on hands, and gently roll beads in hands and finish by rubbing with soft cloth. They always look beautiful and I've never had any regrets. I do like the idea of beeswax with the exception of it getting into drill holes and gunking up.? Have I been doing it wrong?
 

laurenb

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Messages
364
Ok I've read everyone's take on cleaning of pearls. I've never run mine under water because of fear it would stretch silk too much, but I do rub my hands in a little olive oil, very light film on hands, and gently roll beads in hands and finish by rubbing with soft cloth. They always look beautiful and I've never had any regrets. I do like the idea of beeswax with the exception of it getting into drill holes and gunking up.? Have I been doing it wrong?

I haven't been cleaning pearls as long as others here, but I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

FWIW, I've only stretched wet silk when I momentarily lost my mind and pulled the pearls through a cloth to dry them. That's what I do after wearing, but when wet I pat them dry. I do dunk them in distilled or filtered water last if I use chlorine-treated fluoridated tap water just to try to flush those chemicals away.

By IOOC standards, Extra-virgin olive oil contains no more than 0.8% acidity. the US isn't a member, but many companies we import oil from are. I don't know how to compare that percentage to pH, but this means extra virgin oils imported from IOOC countries will be less acidic and would therefore seem to be the best choice for seasoning pearls to perfection. :D
 
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pearl-man

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Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
266
small pearl unknotted...over trhe years we have seen several unknotted genuine pearl necklaces, 2-3" from clasp, wear into
a barrel shape.
Our stringing dept was founded by my aunts in the 30" continued by my mother and then yours truly since 69. We have always had a policy of recommending not washing a finished strand. Gentle wipe OK. We have had some graduated strands so gunked up with cake makeup you couldn't find the pearls at the end...No Lie... This particular wholesale customer eventually brought them to us 3 times a year when we explained "gunking". He just didn't want to bother.
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. Frequent stringing is the answer.
pearlman
 

pearlescence

purveyor of pearls
Joined
Aug 18, 2007
Messages
3,843
Add in perfume. I have reeled back in nose anguish sometimes when I have opened an envelope when pearls come in for re-stringing
 

pearlshoppe

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
50
Laurenb and pearlman,
Thank you both, I appreciate your helpful comments. I thought I knew, but the more I read the more I questioned myself. I buy high quality extra virgin olive oil from a company that imports it directly from Tuscany. (I also own a catering and dessert business). I think I will stay away from beeswax (gunking fear factor) though.
 

pearlshoppe

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
50
An added note, on the restringing, I sell to locals,so I see them often. I remind them about restringing, but they just seem to have a mindset against it. When asked why they say they are scared it would in some way affect the orginal value of the pearls. I tell them it isn't the string but the pearls themselves that are of value, but still meet with opposition. Any suggestions on convincing them it is best for their investment in the long run?
 

Hanaleimom

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
1,478
olive oil

olive oil

I've only applied olive oil once to some of my strands. I really could not tell if they look shinier. Sometimes I wonder if using oil would even attract dust on the pearls' surfaces. :confused: As far as daily wear, when I take them off, I use a spray bottle of distilled water to wet the pearl cloth (from the vendors here) and wipe them down.
 

laurenb

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Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Messages
364
Add in perfume. I have reeled back in nose anguish sometimes when I have opened an envelope when pearls come in for re-stringing

They must be a walking cloud of sillage if that much has gotten into the silk! Pity the poor bystanders.

I'm a bit of a perfume nut, so I've always wondered-- does evidence of perfume use invariably come along with nacre damage? It's always listed as one of the dangers to pearl longevity. I took to wearing perfume in my hair when wearing pearls, even though scalp oils are notorious for messing about with the scent.

I should probably have mentioned that I'm more intensive about washing because I can de-plate a pendant or chain in hours. My skin is *that* acidic.
 

Pearl Dreams

Pearl Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
8,941
I love to wear perfume and like Cathy, simply apply it lower so it doesn't affect my pearls.

Perfume can be photosensitizing so, particularly in the summer, I prefer not to spray it on my throat/neck where skin is exposed to sun.
 

purlgurl

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 2, 2009
Messages
231
What an interesting thread. What terrifies me is that even working in a Jewellery shop, with access to so called professionals, I still have so much to learn! (Cringing at the the jeweller telling me I could clean pearls in the ultrasonic, in a mixture of ammonia, dishwashing detergent & tap water.)(Since then, sacked.)
Purlgurl
 

Pearl Angel

Community member
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
36
Hi to all the wonderful PG'ers.

I was away for awhile and now finally back. This thread was quite interesting. I am not a pearl expert, but using Chickens to clean my pearls is not an option. Thank you Catlin, for the lesson on how the Chickens eat. :) I haven't used water on a strand yet as I am a new pearl lover, and owner but I do wipe them down with a soft cloth after wearing. Guess, I will have to get some distilled water to give them a rinse pretty soon.

I think a small amount of Johnson?s baby oil would not hurt them, as long as you wipe off the excess.

I do find I have to clean my pearl earrings quite often as my hair products do leave them tacky. The gel, moose and olive oil sprays do melt off my hair during the day and leave them sticky. I have wiped them down with a slightly damp cloth and dried with cotton cloth. So far I have not had a problem with my earrings.

What I do know is that the experts here know a lot more than a regular store that doesn't specialize in pearls. One did tell me they would steam them and I backed off as I was afraid the heat would not be good for the pearls.

Do pearl stores polish pearls? I don't have any pearls that I inherited so do not need the Sunshine cloth, for restoration. I hope to be able to prevent ever having to restore the pearls I do own.

Questions:

How do professional pearl houses buff their pearls?

Has anyone tried the cloths and solution that come from the pearl doctor?

Well , it is nice to be back and reading such great information and funny post! :)

laurenb I know my cats whould lick them with their rough tongues if I use fish oil! Maybe a better way than the Sunshine cloth?
 

Cathybear

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 9, 2007
Messages
332
The pearls I wear every day (cfwp) get sweat on them (I live in the tropics); I've now strung them on powerpro, and wash them in the bathroom sink, with a squirt of baby shampoo; slosh them around, rinse and let them dry on a clean face cloth. Seems to be working well.
One strand I wore a lot last year, I'd dumped on the dresser then forgotten. When I 'found' them again they looked pretty grungy. Sort of a light coating, probably dried perspiration/body oil. I rubbed it off with the linen top I was wearing (bit lazy) then just gave them a wash and restring the pearls were just as lovely as when they were new when I'd finished.
 

Hanaleimom

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Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
1,478
Hi everyone,

I sprinkle or spray water onto the soft microfiber cloths (that PP sends with each purchase) to clean each item before I put it into storage. If I don't have the cloth, I use clean, moist washcloth to wipe down after each wear. Every few months, I use the wet cloth in the blue packet that PP gives to clean a couple of the most recently worn strands or earrings. I have tried a drop or two of olive oil on a strand, then wiped really clean afterwards, but did not notice much difference. You must be careful not to rub the oil onto the silk, which will collect more dirt. TPM recommends rubbing with scentless sweet almond oil or olive oil. I haven't used almond oil yet.

Surfers wear their leather necklaces in the ocean everyday and that doesn't seem to wear down the pearls much, at least in Josh's case. But they only wear 1 pearl. I wouldn't wear a nice strand of pearls and enter the ocean. :) On vacation, I have seen many, many women wore their Tahitian pendants in the pool and hot tub :eek:. It's sad whoever sold the pearls didn't pass on care instructions.
 

Heidi

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Joined
Apr 5, 2008
Messages
757
Hi Pearl Angel:
The fatty acids in olive oi, as well as the acidity (low), are well-suited to pearls, the configuration in baby oil (mineral oil) is not the same. I know that using pure castile soap (from olive oil) is an excellent way to clean pearls as is the Pearl Doctor. For maintenance, I am very careful not to wear anything but the bare minimum of sunscreen when needed on my neck and have had good luck using either a microfiber or soft cotton cloth with a little filtered water to get any gunk off the pearls and keep their luster high.
 

GemGeek

Pearlista
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
9,245
Here is a tip I got from Betty Sue King that never fails for daily care:

Dip your hand in water and then run the strand gently through your closed hand. Blot or wipe the water off the pearls with a clean, soft cloth. Repeat before wiping if they are really grubby. This loosens the dirt from the area that touches your body without wetting the string. And most of the time it's all they need.

And my tip:
Don't use towels that have been hanging out in the open for a long time. Dust settles on the surface and it contains tiny mineral particles (like quartz) that can dull your pearls with repeated use.

Hey, is peppermint castile okay? I have some Dr. Bronner's right here! ;)
 

Heidi

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Apr 5, 2008
Messages
757
Peppermint should make you feel really refreshed! ;)
 

Caitlin

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Dec 11, 2004
Messages
8,572
I know Dr Bronner's plain castile is great. I wonder if the peppermint oil adds acidity? I think whatever one uses, the formula should be a little to the basic side of the Ph balance.
 

Heidi

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Joined
Apr 5, 2008
Messages
757
I know Dr Bronner's plain castile is great. I wonder if the peppermint oil adds acidity? I think whatever one uses, the formula should be a little to the basic side of the Ph balance.

Yes, to get serious - the plain would be best. The peppermint quantity probably isn't very great as its a strong oil, but a person can get the unscented stuff just as easily.
 
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