Caring For Your Pearls Caring for your pearls is easy. It last. Cosmetics, perfume, and hair can dull the luster of a pearl over Periodically wipe the pearls with a is best to put your pearls on spray all contain chemicals that an extended period of time. soft damp cloth. Washing Instructions If you wear your pearls frequently, you should consider washing them approximately once a year. Place your pearls in a colander(plastic) to minimize handling your pearls. Dip the colander several times in a mild soap solution(use a clear liquid soap(Ivory)). Rinse thoroughly in clear water. Pour the pearls onto a towel and allow to dry for at least 24 hours before handling them. Consider having your pearls restrung after three washings. Your pearls will last a lifetime with proper care and will become more beautiful with age. Cleaning Your Pearls The softness of pearls and their low resistance to heat and chemicals mean that special precautions must be taken when cleaning them. Keep in mind the following guidelines: * Do not use commercial jewelry cleaners on pearls unless the labels say they are safe for pearls. Many of them contain ammonia, which will cause deterioration. * Never clean pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner. It can damage the pearls and wash out the color if the pearls have been dyed. * Never steam-clean pearls. Heat can harm them. * Never use detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda, or ammonia-based cleaners on pearls. * Do not use toothbrushes, scouring pads, or abrasive materials to clean pearls. They can scratch their surface. If there's a lump of dirt that can't be rubbed off with a soft cloth, try using your fingernails. They have a hardness of only 2 1/2 or less. Cleaning pearls is not complicated. After you wear them, just wipe them off with a soft cloth or chamois which can be dry or damp. This will prevent the dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the pearl nacre. If the pearls have not been kept clean and are very dirty, they can be cleaned by your jeweler or they can be washed in water and a mild soap such as Ivory or Lux liquid (some liquid soaps, such as Dawn, can damage pearls) and cleaned with a soft cloth. Pay attention to the areas around the drill holes where dirt may tend to collect. After washing them, lay the pearls flat in a moist kitchen towel to Dry. After the towel is dry, they should be dry. Do not wear pearls When their string is wet. Wet strings stretch and attract dirt which is hard to remove. Likewise do not hang pearls to dry. Storing Your Pearls Pearls are composed of about 2 to 4% water along with calcium carbonate and an organic binder called conchiolin. If the pearls become dehydrated, they can get brittle and crack. Consequently, hey should not be kept near heaters or in places that get strong sunlight, such as on a windowsill. Safe deposit boxes can be unusually dry, so if you ever store pearls there, try to take them out occasionally and expose them to humidity or moisture. Sealed plastic bags are not the best place for pearls. They can keep them from breathing and getting moisture. Since pearls are sort, they should be kept in something that will protect them from scratches. Jewelry pouches or cloth bags are ideal. Pearls can also be wrapped in soft material and kept wherever convenient. Jewelry boxes may be handy, but they are also the first place burglars look. Storing pearls for long periods in safety deposit boxes or vaults will allow the pearls to dry out and dull them. Frequent wear and regular care will allow your pearls the chance to re-energize themselves with moisture from the air and your skin. Having Your Pearls Strung Pearl necklaces can stretch with time and the siring can get dirty and weak. Thus, they should be restrung periodically--about once a year, but that depends on how often they are worn. Fine pearls should be strung with silk and with knots tied between each pearl. This prevents them from rubbing against each other and from scattering if the string should break. Occasionally pearls are strung with gold beads. According to a Los Angeles pearl stringer, gold turns pearls ivory-colored and coral black, and this is a permanent discoloration. Therefore, it's not advisable to string expensive pearls with gold beads. Miscellaneous Tips * Take your pearls off when applying cosmetics, hair sprays, and perfume. These beauty aids are made of chemicals and acids which can harm your pearls. * Take your pearls off when showering or swimming. It's not good to get the string wet, plus the chlorine or soap can damage the pearls. Pearl rings should be taken off when washing your hands or the dishes. Put the ring in a protective container or safe spot where it won't accidentally fall in the drain or get lost. * When selecting pearl jewelry, check to see if the pearl is mounted securely. Preferably, the pearl will have been drilled and glued to a post on the mounting, especially if it is a ring. Otherwise, the pearl may come loose. If the pearl is flawless, a drill hole could lower it's value. In such a case, it would be safer to set the undrilled pearl in a pin, pendant or earring than in a ring. * When taking off a pearl ring, grasp the shank or metal part rather than the pearl. This will prevent the pearl from loosening and coming into contact with skin oil on your hand. Avoid wearing pearls with rough fabrics such as Shetland wool. They can scratch the pearls. Pearls of Wisdom It takes over 91 oyster years in order to grow enough cultured pearls for a very high quality, matched necklace. Out of 100 pearl growing oysters, only about 5 will produce gem quality pearls. Pearls have been highly regarded as gemstones for thousands of years. The Bible, Talmud and Koran all refer to pearls as symbols of wealth. Cleopatra, legend has it, at a banquet in the first century A.D. crushed an expensive pearl and drank it in order to impress Marc Antony. In ancient Greece, pearls were believed to promote marital happiness. Pearls have been appreciated for thousands of years, long before diamonds, silver and gold were mined and used for jewelry.