It’s not uncommon or unusual to see pearls as an essential jewelry piece in any fashion books that tout the must-have items in women’s wardrobes. And while a classic strand of pearls or pearl studs will never go out of style, I’ve found myself particularly drawn to pearls when they’ve been presented in a more contemporary setting. In fact, this year Bombay Taxi Boutique unveiled a collection of unique and edgy pearl jewelry, and you can expect to see more pearl jewelry in our collection this winter.
If you own pearls, or plan to, there are a few things you need to know in caring for them, but before we get there, let’s step back and examine the different types of pearls available.
Natural Pearls: These are the rarest and most expensive pearls. Originally found in the Persian Gulf, most of these have been harvested. If someone is trying to sell you natural pearls and they are not eyewateringly expensive, you are not buying the real deal. When you think of the pearls in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you’re picturing natural pearls.
Cultured Pearls: Most pearls found today are cultured pearls, grown in pearl farms. Mollusks are farm-raised, and then a tiny mother of pearl bead is introduced, around which a full pearl is formed. Not all these mollusks will form a pearl, but when they do, the pearls are harvested and then sorted for quality and size. There are two types of cultured pearls: Saltwater Pearls and Freshwater Pearls. Saltwater pearls are considered the more delicate of the two, and include the famed Tahitian peals which may be naturally colored in black or purple or gray - collectively known as black pearls.
Classic. Elegant. Timeless. Beautiful. Pure. Pearls.
Now that we’ve got some technicalities out of the way, let’s talk about taking care of pearls.
Pearls should only be stored by themselves or with other pearls. Make sure you don’t crowd them in their storage container to minimize scratches and other damage. If you’re traveling with pearls, store them individually in a protective container. I like to wrap my pearls in clean socks and tuck them inside a clutch when I travel, but if you have a jewelry case, you may use that too.
Since pearls are organic gemstones, they are particularly susceptible to chemicals. Avoid letting them come in contact with perfumes, makeup and hairspray. If you accidentally find that you’ve sprayed your pearls with something, wipe them off with a soft cloth as soon as possible. And always wipe them off before you return them to storage.
Don’t get your pearls wet. Pearl rings have exploded in popularity recently, and while they are absolutely beautiful and fun to wear, you should take them off when washing your hands, and definitely if they’re going to be soaked in water. This is mainly to protect the setting and also to prevent chemicals from detergent getting onto your pearls. Pearl necklaces are typically strung in silk thread, and getting them wet can weaken the thread, so again, leave them out of the shower!
I also don’t recommend sleeping in pearl earrings or a pearl necklace. Unlike diamonds or rubies or other stones in general that have flat surfaces and angles, and can therefore be set with prongs, pearls are smooth and spherical, so they are set differently, and frequently might include glue for more security. As such, they may come loose more easily than prong-set pieces.
Pearls are meant to be worn, and gain luster from use. If you leave your pearls locked away for long periods of time, you may see that they start to look dull and even dehydrated over time. So don’t save them for “special occasions” and wear them whenever you like!