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by Staff Writer
Who can resist the allure of pearls? Their shimmer has beckoned jewelry lovers for ages, and pearl jewelry is still popular in contemporary fashion. Once you know the guidelines for proper pearl care, you can keep your pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings looking beautiful for a lifetime.
Protect your pearls while you're wearing them. Whenever you wear your pearl jewelry, be sure to put it on after you have finished applying your cosmetics and hair products, including hair spray, because the chemicals in these products can damage pearls. If you wear perfume, don't apply it in the area where you'll wear your jewelry; if you're wearing a pearl necklace, apply perfume to your wrists, but if you're wearing a pearl bracelet, apply perfume to your neck. After you remove your jewelry for the night, rub the pearls gently with a soft, slightly damp cloth before putting them away.
Clean pearls gently. Use the following method to clean pearl jewelry, including any pieces that have a mixture of pearls and other gemstones.
Mix a few drops of mild dish soap into a bowl of lukewarm water.
Dampen a soft cloth with the mixture and rub the cloth over the jewelry to remove dirt and oils.
Rinse the cloth in clean water and wipe the jewelry again. Dry the jewelry with a lint-free cloth.
Avoid cleaning methods that can harm pearls. Do not soak pearls in liquids or clean them in a steamer, which could damage them because pearls are an organic substance that absorbs moisture. Also, don't clean pearls in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner; the rough cleaning process can damage the surface.
Store pearls in a jewelry box. Ideally, your pearl jewelry came to you in its own fabric-lined storage box, and this is the best place to keep it. Otherwise, store pearls in a compartmentalized jewelry box. Gemstones and metals can scratch pearls, so each piece of jewelry needs its own space. Also, avoid storing pearls in a plastic bag or container because the lack of air circulation will dehydrate them and make them brittle.
Take them to a jeweler once in a while. The nylon or silk strings that hold long strands of pearls become frayed over time, making the necklaces vulnerable to breakage. If you wear your necklaces frequently, have them restrung every few years. The good jeweler will place a knot between each pearl, so the whole strand won't be lost if the necklace does break.
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