Pearls are a classic piece of jewellery traditionally worn as a necklace or earrings. Royalty and nobility from Tudor England and Capetian France wore pearls as a sign of status. The Duke of Saxony even passed a law in 1612 forbidding anyone but royalty from sporting the luxurious gems. Thankfully, us mere mortals are no longer prohibited from wearing pearls and their popularity remains consistently high. Some of the most famous women throughout history have worn pearls from Cleopatra to Anne Boleyn, Audrey Hepburn made them a style must have and our very own Queen Elizabeth II carries them off with unsurpassed elegance.
As the world’s only known organic gem, Pearls can be extremely delicate, however, they can last a lifetime and longer with the correct care and maintenance. There are five key pieces of advice that if followed, will enable you to pass your pearls from generation to generation for years to come.
1. Do Not Pollute Your Pearls: Just as we are sensitive to chemicals and pollution, so too is the organic calcium carbonate that forms pearls. This material is sensitive to chemicals that we use on a daily basis. To avoid a heavy build up of substances like hair spray, make-up and perfume, put your pearls on after you have finished getting ready.
2. Keep Them Clean: Daily life is dirty business and just as dirt builds up on our skin, it builds up on the surface of the pearls too. This pollution can erode the pearl nacre decreasing their value and aesthetic qualities. Gently wiping them with a warm, damp cloth before putting them away will prolong their life.
3. Store Them Separately: You have probably gathered by now that pearls are delicate. They are susceptible to scratches and damage from other objects they come into contact with and this includes your other pieces of jewellery. Storing them in a soft pouch or lined jewellery box will keep your pearls looking perfect for as long as possible, which is a long time!
4. Give Them A Drink: Pearls are grown naturally and with the help of man. While natural pearls are extremely rare and expensive, cultured pearls also take a lot of careful nurturing to grow at their best. This growth requires water above all else, and this need for moisture does not end when they leave their oyster shell home. Heat and dehydration can cause pearls to split and crack, with the maximum temperature most pearls can withstand no higher than 100 degrees Celsius. The moisture levels in the air are enough for the pearls and cleaning them with a damp cloth will also give them a moisture boost. Make sure that they are stored in a breathable container and away from direct heat, be it through sunlight or radiators.
5. Knot Them Up: Traditionally, pearl necklaces are strung together with silk. Silk however, is less inclined to moisture as the pearls which it carries. Annual re-stringing is necessary if you wear your pearls regularly and every two years if you wear them only occasionally. This should protect you against snapping silk and losing your precious pearls. As an extra barrier against losing your pearls should the silk snap, having the silk knotted in between each pearl is a good idea. This ensures that only one pearl will fall off the string.
By following these five easy steps you will be able to enjoy wearing your pearl necklace or earrings for a lifetime. Maintaining the pearls will conserve the value of your investment and preserve their reputation as the Queen of gems.