What happens to pearls?

I have written an article earlier explaining how to look after pearls and beads necklaces (click here to read it). In this article I am going to show you what happens to pearls after a while if they are not looked after properly. I am going to show a pair of pearl earrings after some 20 odd years of wear and tear.

Wether you have South Sea, Cultured or Fresh Water pearls the end result is the same, only the price to replace the damaged pearls varies wildly.

Damaged pearl earrings

Damaged pearl earrings

They don’t look too bad do they? While they are OK from the front you can see the part closer to the earlobe has lost it’s “shiny layer”. One side is a bit worst off than the other but in the end it’s better to just replace both.

Damaged pearls

Damaged pearls off their earring posts

On this photo you can see the front of one pearl still looking fine while the other side is completely “eaten” away! All the fine layers of the pearl have disappeared and even the centre shell has been damaged.

Damaged pearls side view

Damaged pearls off their earring posts side view

On this photo you can see how much of the pearl has been lost. They used to be round…

This didn’t happen overnight but over many many years! So breath in and relax, you can take a few simple steps to avoid this problem.

  1. Your pearls are the LAST thing you put on before going out! Cosmetics of any kind and perfume will damage the very fine and fragile surface of your pearls
  2. Take your pearls off before taking your makeup off for the same reasons they were the last to be put on 🙂
  3. Don’t sleep with your pearls still on. Natural oils from your skin can oxydise / damage your pearls over time and  you can also lightly scratch the surface of the pearls
  4. When cleaning your jewellery do not rub or soak your pearls in anything! If you have some dirt on the pearl very gently wipe it off with a clean tissue. If you want to clean the post or setting use only a Silver Polish cloth or Gold Polish cloth avoiding getting too close to the pearls.

I hope you can enjoy wearing your pearls for a very long time! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment here or contact me or your nearest jeweller 🙂

2 thoughts on “What happens to pearls?”

  1. Wow, that was interesting. Thanks for sharing. I don’t own any pearl jewellery, but when it does happen I will know how to look after them. I had no idea about the effect of make up, perfume and natural skin oils from the skin can have on the pearls.

    1. It’s my pleasure Janine! So many people don’t realise pearls are a little fragile but can stay beautiful for many years. I hope you get some pearls soon 🙂

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