Taking care of your Tahitian Black Pearls

This section helps you with ideas and techniques for taking care of your valuable Tahitian pearls.

Pearls are meant to be worn. Wearing them only enhances their beauty. But they can't be worn indefinitely, so they must be regularly put away for safe-keeping as well as for preservation. 

Owners of Tahitian cultured pearls must bear in mind that pearls are produced by a living organism.


Pearls contain calcareous crystals that are sensitive to chemicals and acids. They also contain water and protein and may dry out and crack if not properly taken care of. That's why it is recommended that pearls be dampened from time to time in lightly salted water. It is also why they should never be wrapped in cotton or wool because the heat generated would add to the risk of drying out, threatening to turn the pearls brown.

Since pearls are not as hard as precious stones, they should not be stored in direct contact with other pieces of jewellry, which may scratch them. Also to be avoided is contact between the pearls and dishwashing liquid and acidic products, such as hair spray, perfume, vinegar and lemon juice.

Pearl Sensitivity to Women's Skin

Some people's skin is more acid than others. If a Tahitian pearl necklace is regularly worn, as it should be, some of the pearls will constantly be in close contact with the woman's skin on her neck at the shoulder line. Pearl pendants do not always have such constant contact with a woman's skin. Unless carefully and regularly checked, the pearls in the necklace will gradually absorb acid from the skin. The acid will slowly eat into the spherical pearl. Over time the pearl will not only lose its luster, but will become barrel-shaped.


Cleaning Your Pearls

When the moment comes to put pearls away for the night, owners should make it a habit of rinsing and drying them off. You may even polish them with a soft cloth containing a drop of olive oil so that they maintain their luster and do not dry out. 


Cleaning "Don'ts":

What must be kept in mind is that the softness of pearls and their low resistance to heat and chemicals mean that special precautions must be taken when cleaning them.

Here are some important guidelines:

* Do not use commercial jewellry cleaners on pearls unless the product label states they are safe for pearls. Many such products contain ammonia, which will cause deterioration.

* Never clean pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner. That can damage the pearls.

* Never steam-clean pearls. Heat can harm them.

* Never use detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda or ammonia-based cleaners on pearls

* 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.

* Do not use toothbrushes, scouring pads or abrasive materials to clean pearls. They can scratch the pearls' surface. If there is a lump of dirt that can't be rubbed off with a soft cloth, trying using a fingernail, which has a hardness of only 2.5 or less.

Cleaning "Do's": 

Cleaning pearls is not complicated. After you wear them just wipe them off with a soft cloth or chamois, which may be dry or damp. This will prevent dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the pearl nacre.

* 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.

* If 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 and cleaned with a soft cloth. Some liquid soaps, such as Dawn, can damage pearls. Pay attention to the areas around the drill holes where dirt may tend to collect.

* After washing your pearls, lay them flat in a moist kitchen towel to dry. When the towel is dry, your pearls should be dry.

* About every six months have a jewelry professional verify that the pearls on your jewelry are securely mounted or that the string is still good. Many jewelers will do this free of charge, and they'll be happy to answer your questions about the care of your jewelry.

Credits to Tahiti Sun Travel An Internetwork of Travel and Tourism Guides for the Main Islands of Tahiti Polynesia

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