Pearls are considered natural organic gems ...

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Pearl Information and Care Tips

Interesting Pearl Facts - How to Care for Pearls

pearl, ruby and 14k gold necklace
Pearl, Ruby and 14k Gold Necklace

Pearl Facts

pearl, crystal and copper chandelier earringsPearls are soft, multicolored organic gemstones.

They have been used for thousands of years to create beautiful jewelry.

They have also been used as a decorative element in clothing, and to make beautiful buttons.

Pearls are found naturally in many warm water areas in the United States, Asia, and the South Pacific. They are generally found in two varieties.

One type is found in mussels. These mussels live in fresh water rivers and streams and produce "fresh water" pearlsfresh water pearl, black onyx and 14k gold bracelet like the semi - round potato pearls in the earrings on the left, and the pearl, ruby and gold necklace above. Many fresh water pearls have natural, unique shapes like the small "baroque" fresh water pearls as shown in the bracelet on the right. Freshwater pearls can be found in a rainbow of natural colors, though many are dyed to keep their color uniform.

The second type, also referred to as "precious pearls," are round in shape and occur naturally in marine oysters. Natural marine pearls are extremely rare; for centuries, only royalty and the super - rich could afford to wear them. Even now, single pearls can cost thousands of dollars. It can take a pearl diver several years or more - searching daily - to acquire enough matched pearls to produce a top quality necklace. The individual pearls must be matched for size, shape and color.

Most oysters never produce a pearl naturally. Conditions must be just right and that does not happen very often, This is what brought about the business of pearl farming, which produces cultured pearls.

Cultured pearls and are formed in the same way that natural pearls are. The difference is that an irritant such as a piece of shell is intentionally planted in the body of the oyster. The oyster has soft tissue, and the bit of shell, or "seed" irritates the oyster. To protect itself, it begins to cover this irritant with the same compound that makes up the inside of it's shell. After several years, this substance - known as nacre - is deposited layer after layer over this irritant. As time passes the "seed" becomes buried in a thick coating of this smooth, lustrous nacre. The result is a pearl.

potato pearl, black onyx and 14k gold necklacePearls have been traditionally believed to enhance tranquility. They are known as a symbol of virtue and purity.

Pearl Care Tips

Pearls are very soft and should not be cleaned with commercial jewelry cleaning compounds. They are porous and will absorb liquids (even dirty dishwater) which will affect the color and erode the pearl.

For this reason rings and bracelets with pearls should not be worn while washing dishes or using harsh household cleaning chemicals.

Cosmetics can stain pearls, and perfumes can also be detrimental. Always handle and put pearl jewelry on after applying makeup and fragrances.

Ultrasonic or steam cleaning is not recommended. Pearls are delicate!

Pearls will almost always look fine after gently polishing them with a soft cloth.

Preventative pearl care is important. Pearl necklaces and bracelets should be restrung every 2 to 3 years. It is important to knot between each pearl to stop them from rubbing against each other, wearing the ends down. Knotting also helps to prevent loss in case the strand breaks. Pearls are traditionally strung on silk, a natural organic fiber that can weaken after being exposed repeatedly to dry and wet weather (humidity), perspiration and general wear.


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