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Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Pearls

AWeng

New member
Karin, my friend didn't mention the discolored threads. It's good to know that it's not recommended before I actually put those oils on mine! (relief) She was talking about cracking and peeling so I was concerned...if it's not an issue then I won't want anything to get on my pearls.



And how does you friend like the new colour of the once-white silk thread :)

The topic has been up before but so has many topics during PG's lifespan. The conclusion last time was that's not a good idea to use any kind of oil with pearls - other than the oil that comes naturally off the skin when you wear them.



Some oils even harden and could potentially leave a layer on your pearls. Personally I wouldn't.

- Karin
 

AWeng

New member
I had rubbed olive oil on one strand and didn't like the result. It seemed the oil even attracted dirt and dust faster. I didn't even think it was more shiny. Maybe it's all in my head but it looked dirty, coated. So I eventually wiped it with moist cloth to get rid of the oil.

Cathy you've just reminded me of the kitchen walls... oil not an option on pearls definitely!
 

KarinK

Active member
Karin, my friend didn't mention the discolored threads. It's good to know that it's not recommended before I actually put those oils on mine! (relief) She was talking about cracking and peeling so I was concerned...if it's not an issue then I won't want anything to get on my pearls.

Cracking and peeling? I'm wondering if your friend's pearls might be fake pearls. Good pearls shouldn't be cracking and peeling. I'm not an expert on vintage but the one akoya strand I did have had been sitting in a safe for at least 30 years. They were not as high luster as akoya usually is but I'm sure they ever were. No cracking or peeling, though.

- Karin
 

pearl-man

New member
very good advice

very good advice

Very good ... everything my firm has recommended for 40 years .


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
 

Sarah

New member
I restrung my great grandmother's akoyas today, after reading this thread. First, I put them on cotton thread and gave them a sudsy bath. This got them nice and clean, outside and inside. I 'dried' them for about an hour in a damp towel and then knotted them on powerpro. Wow, they look so new and happy. Pity they're akoyas and I have to put them away. I want to wear them!
 

Pearl Dreams

Pearl Enthusiast
My goodness, wear them!

The way I see it is, my pearls won't last forever, but neither will I. I am determined to enjoy what I own, period!
 

Sarah

New member
I'll wear them on our next night out, I just don't feel like I can wear them as frequently as I'd like. The smallest pearls were worn and came off with the ones I removed. The makeover freshened them considerably and washing them on cotton thread did a nice job cleaning the holes, something I learned on this thread.
 

pearl-man

New member
100 years of stringing experience

100 years of stringing experience

Our firm founded in 1939 did only stringing of beads and pearls till we began importing in the 60's. Enough experience blah, blah. There is a definite difference in all types of stringing material just as there is a difference between Japanese silk and Italian silk? you wouldn't put a Yugo engine in a Lamborghini. For a strand of FWCP who cares but a strand of AAA should hang straight on each side, which is sometimes not the case with synthetics or silk pretends. Dealers poo poo the use of quality thread. Would they poo poo the use of soft gold prongs on a 5 ct fancy canary?
Silk is mandatory in order for nice pearls to look great! The best quality thread should be used and that is silk! A natural strand just sold for 1/4 million would you put that on nylon? With all due respect to Jeremy and his heralded success the synthetics and substitutes work well but don't knot as well as the gem deserves.


I would personally suggest finding someone in your local area that can string pearls well. Knotting pearls well takes practice, and if you only have a few strands that need upkeep, you would be better off with a professional stringer. Treat the strand like the cleaning of your fur coat (faux fur coat - sorry, the Angelino coming out in me), about once a year. Unless you have a keen interest in beading, the $10-$30 you will spend on the reknotting will outweigh the cumbersome task of learning to string.
Silk is not as important as many think. In fact, the large majority of stringers "double knotting on silk thread" are either using nylon or a silk nylon blend. I do not really believe one is better than the other - one just sounds better. Almost anything coming out of Asia (both Japan and China) is not strung on pure silk.
 

pattye

Pearl Scholar
Norm,

I truly appreciate that you represent a traditional view of pearl knotting with silk thread as the material to use. The Japanese Tire brand silk thread you have mentioned comes in many lovely colors. (I bought the color chart and 7 cards of thread.) I would say it is the highest quality silk available here in the US, but it is also quite expensive.

Stretching is a big concern when using silk, especially with pearl sizes of 9mm and up so popular now. In fact, many of the pearl ropes and necklaces being purchased now are comprised of 10-11mm pearls and larger, sometimes 36 inches and longer. Are you seeing the popularity of these sizes and lengths in your business? A necklace of freshwater pearls in 11-14mm is not a rarity anymore, so a stronger break strength is achieved by using synthetic instead of silk.

Most of us don't drill our own pearls, so we are stuck with having to adjust the thread weight to the size hole that is already there.

I don't recall any examples shown here so far of synthetic thread wearing away a drill hole. Certainly I will be looking closely at my ropes and necklaces over the years and checking for wear when I restring. By following appropriate care practices and stringing on synthetic thread, I hope to get at minimum 3-5 years frequent wear before restringing is needed.

I feel synthetic thread offers an appropriate alternative choice for pearl knotting: with strength, silkiness, resilience, stretch resistance, fluid drape and a fine, attractive knot. Many years of working with fabric, threads and yarns have given me confidence to explore knotting thread options.
 
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BeadersSecret

Professional Rethreader
I would personally suggest finding someone in your local area that can string pearls well. Knotting pearls well takes practice, and if you only have a few strands that need upkeep, you would be better off with a professional stringer. Treat the strand like the cleaning of your fur coat (faux fur coat - sorry, the Angelino coming out in me), about once a year. Unless you have a keen interest in beading, the $10-$30 you will spend on the reknotting will outweigh the cumbersome task of learning to string.
Silk is not as important as many think. In fact, the large majority of stringers "double knotting on silk thread" are either using nylon or a silk nylon blend. I do not really believe one is better than the other - one just sounds better. Almost anything coming out of Asia (both Japan and China) is not strung on pure silk.

I totally agree with Jeremy's post.

Dear Pearl-man, I agree with you to a point, Quality is paramount, but Silk of itself doesn't define or guarantee it - and some of the "Synthetic threads" of today are a lot different to yester-year.

Like You, I have been stringing professionally for many decades - I wont give the year as is a Ladies prerogative :)

Also like you I was taught on the Japanese Tire Brand silk thread, and then through circumstance was introduced to a blended synthetic thread from Kaygee which tested extremely well - eventually becoming a "Go-To" staple. I now also use Pattye's Secret Beaders Thread in colours for a good 7 years (Bless Her)

Both These threads drape Beautifully and are in no way detrimental to the pearls. Those who know me in the trade here in Australia are quite aware how particular I am regarding thread and Gimp (Gimp is another story of its own). I would not hesitate to thread a premium strand on these threads - and indeed have done on strands valued around up to ~150K

As a footnote to the silk - After years of using "Alternates" I went back to Silk for a strand of South Seas on the customers special request and had my first return in a very long time with a strand that stretched.

There are Good Bad and Middling synthetics, just as there are Good Bad and Indifferent Silks (e.g. Filament Silk Versus Spun) Natural products suffer(?) their own variations in quality by the very nature of being natural.

Another Variable, and a very important one, is the skill and technique of the threader. Should they have a grip like a monkey and over tension the thread and knots, or head the other way with insufficient or uneven tension, the result will be a bad drape and lifespan of the job, whatever the material.

Good Silk has some (many) good qualities - but also has some inherent deficiencies.
A Good Synthetic can be indistinguishable - in regards to the qualities relevant for pearl threading - and at same time avoid the deficiencies of the natural product.

In summary - Quality Thread AND Technique are Both needed for a "good" rethreading job.
 

pattye

Pearl Scholar
Thank you so much, Bernadette, for adding your detailed comments as an experienced professional stringer and rethreader. It's extremely helpful for all of us working on our knotting skills who care about turning out a first class knotted necklace. I hope you saw the lovely compliment and referral for restringing Nerida gave you on another section of the forum.
 

pearl-man

New member
synthetic silk

synthetic silk

[
I remembered to look up the synthetic we do use it is " pearl silk" from Rio.....
Maybe ere is something better you can recommend. Who knows, I'm feeling better from my cold.
Norm
most of our Midwestern customers are still quite traditional. we don't sell many lengths over 24".

QUOTE=pattye;113143]Norm,

I truly appreciate that you represent a traditional view of pearl knotting with silk thread as the material to use. The Japanese Tire brand silk thread you have mentioned comes in many lovely colors. (I bought the color chart and 7 cards of thread.) I would say it is the highest quality silk available here in the US, but it is also quite expensive.

Stretching is a big concern when using silk, especially with pearl sizes of 9mm and up so popular now. In fact, many of the pearl ropes and necklaces being purchased now are comprised of 10-11mm pearls and larger, sometimes 36 inches and longer. Are you seeing the popularity of these sizes and lengths in your business? A necklace of freshwater pearls in 11-14mm is not a rarity anymore, so a stronger break strength is achieved by using synthetic instead of silk.

Most of us don't drill our own pearls, so we are stuck with having to adjust the thread weight to the size hole that is already there.

I don't recall any examples shown here so far of synthetic thread wearing away a drill hole. Certainly I will be looking closely at my ropes and necklaces over the years and checking for wear when I restring. By following appropriate care practices and stringing on synthetic thread, I hope to get at minimum 3-5 years frequent wear before restringing is needed.

I feel synthetic thread offers an appropriate alternative choice for pearl knotting: with strength, silkiness, resilience, stretch resistance, fluid drape and a fine, attractive knot. Many years of working with fabric, threads and yarns have given me confidence to explore knotting thread options.[/QUOTE]
 

Caitlin

New member
Norm
HI! We are all trying Pattye's "Beaders Secret" Thread! It is getting great reviews and comes in an unbelievable array of colors! Go to her Etsy store through the link on her posts.

We at P-G having been known for our experiments with every kind of thread, synthetic and silk, linen and hemp. I always have been one for the natural alternative. Until it comes to a good beading or knotting job, when I just had to leave my preference for "natural" everything aside for knotting.

And synthetic is overtaking the silk just since I began posting here. Beader's Secret is about the best so far, as power pro doesn't come in colors except white and moss green and that is too funky for a lot of people.
 

pearl-man

New member
thread

thread

[hi

I certainly will try it. I gotta a hunch it's similar to what we get from Rio Grande. I thank you so much for taking the time to send me a note.
We don't string anything that needs color. 80% white, 15% black. lemme see what's left 4.5%. color and we
use the color silk as an honor to the dead worms who made it hundred years ago. ;)

QUOTE=Caitlin;113314]Norm
HI! We are all trying Pattye's "Beaders Secret" Thread! It is getting great reviews and comes in an unbelievable array of colors! Go to her Etsy store through the link on her posts.

We at P-G having been known for our experiments with every kind of thread, synthetic and silk, linen and hemp. I always have been one for the natural alternative. Until it comes to a good beading or knotting job, when I just had to leave my preference for "natural" everything aside for knotting.

And synthetic is overtaking the silk just since I began posting here. Beader's Secret is about the best so far, as power pro doesn't come in colors except white and moss green and that is too funky for a lot of people.[/QUOTE]
 

Marianne

Active member
Hi Norm,
The Beader's Secret does not seem to twist/tangle as much as the "pearl silk" from Rio Grande. Especially nice for knotting ropes.
 
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