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Looking After Your Pearl Necklaces

If you're anything like me, you'll be looking for any excuse to wear your pearls in anticipation of the holiday season. During this holiday season, you can finally break out the pearl earrings you've been saving for a particular occasion, as well as the exquisite pearl rope you've been saving for the most important events.

Pearls are most beautiful when worn next to the skin, where their lustrous radiance is amplified by the warmth of the body. However, the pearls' delicate surface can be damaged by contact with the skin, so it's important to know how to properly care for these valuables.

Calcium carbonate is the main ingredient in pearls. Pearls are made when a live organism, the pearl mollusk, deposits nacre in a series of layers. Perfumes, cosmetics, and other abrasive products, as well as acids, can all harm nacre. Perfume alcohol and wet weather both play a significant role. The Cheapside Hoard was home to some very incredible treasures, such as this pearl pendant.

Once upon a time, those pearls were magnificent; they were large, costly, and flawless. However, the harsh environmental conditions in which they were kept caused many of them to vanish, and the rest lost much of their luster. From the commemorative volume published by the Museum of London in honor of the Cheapside Hoard exhibition, we present the following excerpt:

While pearls are often seen in portraits and in inventory lists, they are underrepresented in the Cheapside Hoard. Many of the surviving pearls show clear indications of deterioration, possibly as a result of the burial conditions and duration, and there are at least 1,356 vacant settings for pearls that either rotted away or were removed before burial. Published by the Museum of London in 2013 (author: Hazel Forsyth; ISBN: 978-1-78130-020-6), ["The Cheapside Hoard - London's Lost Jewels"]

Cleopatra is supposed to have bet Mark Anthony over who could throw a more lavish supper by dropping a single, priceless pearl into a glass of wine. That was a victory for Cleopatra. The acid in the wine dissolved the precious pearl she poured into the cup, and Cleopatra drank the wine once the pearl was gone.

When it came to her pearls, Cleopatra could afford to be lavish, but I'd rather take good care of mine

Before anything else, when I put on my most treasured pearl layered necklace, never, ever do I spray any kind of perfume on myself. Since spraying perfume directly onto a necklace of pearls is the surest way to ruin them, I always apply perfume to my skin first and wait for the alcohol to dissipate before donning my pearl necklace. Since most makeup contains chemicals that aren't exactly favorable to pearls, you should be careful when applying it to your neck and chest if you plan on wearing your pearls against your skin. Pearls should be cleaned by running them through a soft cloth after removal. If you purchased your pearls from a reputable retailer, they should have come with a soft cloth similar to that used for polishing eyeglass lenses. Always wipe your pearls clean before storing them to ensure that no traces of makeup or oil from your skin remain.

Store the pearls in their original packagings, such as a box or a velvet or silk presentation bag. Store pearls apart from chains, brooches, and other metal jewelry to prevent the nacre from being harmed. Pearl rings, such as the stunning mabé pearl a friend of mine was given, are extremely delicate and should be treated with care. Pearls should never be worn when washing hands or exposed to strong chemicals.

Even if we take the greatest care of our valuables, despite our best efforts, they will eventually become dirty and require cleaning. Pearls can be washed in warm, soapy water as a last resort, but only if the soap is pure soap, like Lux Soapflakes. They can be carefully brushed in this mild soap solution using a soft-bristled brush, like one designed for a baby's hair. Make sure to give them a good wash in warm water, blot them dry with a towel, and then hang them up to dry in the fresh air, away from any sources of direct heat. When it comes to damaging factors, heat ranks right behind acid and moisture for destroying pearls.