Monday, October 1, 2012

Pearl Facts

I wanted to take some time to answer some commonly asked questions about pearls.

1. How can I tell if my pearls are real?

There are a few ways to tell. One way to check is to run the pearl along your teeth. Don't bite down on it, just rub it on the front of your tooth. A genuine pearl will feel gritty. It will feel like a little ball of sand across your teeth. An imitation pearl will be smooth. In this same instance, if you want to check your friend's pearl and don't want to be shoving their jewelry in your mouth, there is another way. Rub the pearls on each other. Two genuine pearls will feel gritty against one another.

2. Can I clean my pearl strands?

Many chemicals, including cosmetics, perfumes and perspiration can damage the nacre on pearls. Cultured pearls should be thoroughly cleaned periodically, especially if they are worn often. To help pearls keep their luster, wipe them with a soft cloth after each wearing. To clean pearl strands, wash with a mild soapy water. Some detergents can dull nacre and cause surface pitting so if using a jewelry cleaner, be sure it is pearl-safe. Rinse pearls and lay flat on a towel to dry. Make sure strand is completely dry before wearing or hanging so as not to stretch the silk string.

3. Are cultured pearls genuine pearls?

Yes. A natural pearl is made when a foreign object gets inside a mollusk and irritates the soft tissue. The mollusk will try to reduce the effect of the irritant by coating it with nacre. The nacre is the lustrous part of the pearl that we value. A cultured pearl is a pearl that is the result of human intervention. The irritant in this case is deposited by humans.

4. Why are pearl strands knotted?

Pearl strands should be restrung every year if they are frequently worn. Because pearls rate poor to good in toughness, the constant rubbing together in an unknotted strand can cause damage to the pearls. Knotting pearls is also a safety effect. If the strand breaks, only one or two pearls will be broken loose.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cleaning Jewelry...

In all my years of being a jeweler, I have noticed that there are those that do and those that don"t.  Cleaning your wedding ring of all things should be important.  In most cases, a wedding ring is an investment.  It is something you or your spouse or the both of you saved for x amount of time.  In some cases, you spent more money on your ring than on a car or home.  Would you buy a Lamborghini and never wash it?

Diamonds have this magnificent property that allows them not to be scratched, or scuffed, or discolored, or worn out.  As long as they are clean, they will be just as beautiful on your 50th wedding anniversary as they are on your first.


1. Don"t wear your rings gardening, rock climbing, playing sports, or any other activity that could or would cause damage to your ring.  Diamonds CAN CHIP!  Prongs will catch and stones will be lost.

2. If you are not sure what the best way to clean your jewelry is, ask a professional. DO NOT clean your rings with toothpaste.  I am not sure who started this idea but it is simply not the right way.  Toothpaste can leave a film on your rings.  Many brands also have abrasives in them that will not harm your diamonds but could be problematic for other softer stones.  The things that usually make rings dirty are oils from our hands, lotions and perfumes.  Toothpaste is not intended for breaking down grease and oils.

3. DO NOT boil your rings.  I am sorry that this has to be mentioned, but unfortunately there are those of you out there that have tried this.  Extreme heat does not necessarily cut the oils out of your rings.  Also, extreme temperature changes can be damaging to any colored stone.

4. Careful of the silver cleaners!  Many silver cleaners are specific just to silver.  They can be very strong and even though they work well in their intended purposes, they should not be used for all jewelry.  Many of these cleaners strip not only the oxidation (the black tarnish on silver) but the polish as well leaving you with a matte finished piece that has to be re-polished.  Do not use these cleaners on your gold jewelry.  In most cases, silver jewelry is better cleaned with a polishing cloth.  Always go to the cloth first!

5. Have your jewelry inspected regularly.  Most Jewelry stores will tell you every 6 moths is a good time to have your jewelry inspected.  This is true for any piece you wear often to everyday.  Before you start scrubbing your own jewelry, have a professional check that all your stones are tight.

6. Homemade Jewelry Cleaner:
Combine these ingredients in a small baby food jar and keep it by the sink.  Use an old worn out toothbrush (leave the toothpaste in the bathroom:) to do the scrubbing.

1/3 Water
1/3 Dawn dish washing liquid
1/3 sudsy ammonia

Sudsy ammonia is hard to find sometimes.  It is a lower strength ammonia for cleaning.  If you are unable to find it, do not use regular ammonia.  Use 2 parts water and one part Dawn.  The dish washing liquid is made to cut grease and oils and will do wonders cleaning your ring.  Hint: make sure all the soap is rinsed out of your ring before putting it back on.