Now that we have gone over where they com from and the different types of pearls, lets talk about the most important part: how to tell if the pearl you have is the real deal, what kind you might have and how to take care of it!
First and foremost, how do you know whether your pearl is real or not?
There are a few ways to tell if you have the real deal (other than taking it to a jeweler). First, you can look at the thickness. Holding the pearl up to the light you can view the thickness of the nacre (the substance that is deposited onto the pearl when it is inside an oyster). Rolling the pearl against the bright light, if the pearl winks at you, it has a thin nacre. Thick nacre are best, but a thin nacre can mean, either old age (the pearls themselves have been worn a lot and the nacre has worn down over time) or they could potentially be man made (if it is too thin, and easily chips then its most likely enamel).
Pearls are the only precious gems that are produced by a living creature. Most pearls on the market today are cultured, which means they are made at an oyster farm by inserting a small piece of shell into an oyster. The oyster then secretes a silky coating around the irritant — layer by layer — until a pearl is formed. The quality of cultured pearls varies widely. Another thing that is affected by the nacre is the luster. Some pearls are lustier than others (like in the case of different types of pears from different types of mollusks. The better the luster can indicate a thick nacre.
You can next take the pearl and gently (very lightly, as to not damage the pearl) rub it against the front of your tooth. Never rub them on the edge of your tooth, that will scratch the pearl. If the pearl is natural, you will feel a gritty texture against your tooth. If it’s smooth, the pearl in question is made mad. Also when you try this test (often referred to as the Tooth Test) if the pearl is fake, the enamel that coats it can peel off.
When taking care of pearls make sure to avoid chemicals. This includes perfumes, lotions and even lemon. Since the pearl is a naturally occurring gem, it is susceptible to different types of acid, alkaline and extreme humidity. Be aware when wearing pearls, as they can get scratched (as is the case with pearl rings and bracelet). After wearing your pearls make sure to give them a wipe down with a gentle soft cloth.
When storing your pearls make sure to fasten the clasps and store them individually, making sure they don’t end up rubbing against other rough surfaces.
Don’t forget to wear them often! Pearls can actually dehydrate if left in storage for too long. Also life is too short to not wear some good looking gems frequently.
You can dab a soft cloth in water and gently rub at your pearls to clean them if they come in contact with potential dangers. However refrain from submerging them in anything, even water. If you wanted to, you could take the gems to a jeweler that has experience with pearls.
Like normal jewelry that is well loved, parts can become loose so always make sure things are secure before wearing. Nothing would ruin a day like having a clasp snap and a string of pearls go rolling all over the place, or a pearl popping off an earring.
After this three part series hopefully you haven’t found my prattling too boring. Pearls are a really cool anomaly. They are by default, an accident to begin with. A very happy beautiful accident.