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Any way to restore ruined pearls?

Elizabethhunts

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
95
I washed a strand of very old pearls, that had not seen fresh air in about fifty years, and my dumbs self, inexperienced, soaked them in a gentle cleaning solution for abiut five minutes. Upon removal i then proceeded to rinse them and attempt to polish with a soft buffing rag. Of course the nacre was insanely vulnerable and deteriorated in front of my eyes. A lot of the pearls are irredeemable, but some only have slight damage, is there any way i can protect the surviving pearls? Even possibly restore them? Thanks in advance
 

Pearlescence

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Oct 3, 2013
Messages
440
Did the covering nacre come off, like removing nail polish? Since you mention that the pearls are very old it may be that they are imitation pearls - all that many could afford 50 years ago.
You may be able to put together enough pearls for a bracelet perhaps, or a station necklace if there are under 10 which are not too damaged. Or maybe the clasp will have to stand alone as the memory.
Please, never use any cleaning agent on anything pearl or pearl-like, no matter what it says on the bottle. Your unhappy experience is proof of that. If you can post a photo we might be able to advise more
 

Elizabethhunts

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
95
Did the covering nacre come off, like removing nail polish? Since you mention that the pearls are very old it may be that they are imitation pearls - all that many could afford 50 years ago.
You may be able to put together enough pearls for a bracelet perhaps, or a station necklace if there are under 10 which are not too damaged. Or maybe the clasp will have to stand alone as the memory.
Please, never use any cleaning agent on anything pearl or pearl-like, no matter what it says on the bottle. Your unhappy experience is proof of that. If you can post a photo we might be able to advise more
No, not like nail polish, more like flakes and small pieces of shiny skin- like film that started with just a few flakes. Until it just looked like what i would compare to a layer skin peeling and falling off. Like after we get a horrible sunburn. I will have to take a photo today... it is very very bad. There are many other strands of pearls as well, i am now afraid to clean them at all. Is there any safe way to clean the remaining strands? They are so beautiful, i cried when i ruined the first one. I will take a photo for this thread later.
Truthfully its so bad im embarrassed.... i know i shouldnt have jumped so quickly into cleaning but i was overexcited at the beauty, and just wondered what theyd look like clean
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,214
Pearls can be natural, cultured or simulated.
Natural and cultured pearls have real nacre and this doesn’t “come off” by cleaning.
With cultured pearls the quality can be variable. The nacre might be a thick overgrowth which will be very long wearing and less likely to chip off. A thin coating will not wear as well and is more likely to chip off.
Simulated pearls as found in costume jewellery aren’t real pearl nacre, just a coating on plastic. This does easily peel off.
One way of identifying a natural pearl nacre coating vs a faux look a like coating is to gently rub the pearl against a tooth.
Real nacre is gritty /rough against the tooth whereas faux pears are totally smooth.
Other indicators of faux pearls instead of real is if the strand isnt individually knotted between each pearl. Also, higher quality pearls will have a clasp in hallmarked gold or platinum. Cheaper pearls are likely found with a sterling silver clasp and faux pearls with a plated base metal clasp,
 

Elizabethhunts

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
95
Pearls can be natural, cultured or simulated.
Natural and cultured pearls have real nacre and this doesn’t “come off” by cleaning.
With cultured pearls the quality can be variable. The nacre might be a thick overgrowth which will be very long wearing and less likely to chip off. A thin coating will not wear as well and is more likely to chip off.
Simulated pearls as found in costume jewellery aren’t real pearl nacre, just a coating on plastic. This does easily peel off.
One way of identifying a natural pearl nacre coating vs a faux look a like coating is to gently rub the pearl against a tooth.
Real nacre is gritty /rough against the tooth whereas faux pears are totally smooth.
Other indicators of faux pearls instead of real is if the strand isnt individually knotted between each pearl. Also, higher quality pearls will have a clasp in hallmarked gold or platinum. Cheaper pearls are likely found with a sterling silver clasp and faux pearls with a plated base metal clasp,
So natural or cultured pearls, the nacre cannot be ruined?
 

Elizabethhunts

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
95
You should be safe to wash any type of pearl in hand wash soap, but remember water doesn't do the silk any good.
Well i had washed a few strands prior, and they had all been fine!
I figured this strand in question would be the same as the others, although they were not the same color of pearls, i assumed (wrongly) that no harm would be done by a gentle dip and wipe.
I've half a mind to see if the silk from the bad strand is still intact.
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,214
So natural or cultured pearls, the nacre cannot be ruined?
By washing or soaking in a soapy liquid -no.
Nacre is deposited over a long time onto the piece of sand or grit (natural) or is deposited over the bead put inside the pearl (cultured) so it’s very firmly attached. It’s an organic material, that’s why it’s “gritty“ when rubbed gently against a tooth. Faux pearls dont have nacre, they have like a plastic coating that is “pearly looking” so it’s smooth when rubbed against a tooth and will peel off, like old paint or nail polish does, over time. Soaking will accelerate the peeling off.
Natural and cultured pearls are traditionally strung on silk cord, each pearl with a knot inbetween. It isn’t recommended that pearls get regularly wet (wearing in the shower or swimming) or soaked in liquids because the silk gets wet and it can rot and then break.
 

Elizabethhunts

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
95
By washing or soaking in a soapy liquid -no.
Nacre is deposited over a long time onto the piece of sand or grit (natural) or is deposited over the bead put inside the pearl (cultured) so it’s very firmly attached. It’s an organic material, that’s why it’s “gritty“ when rubbed gently against a tooth. Faux pearls dont have nacre, they have like a plastic coating that is “pearly looking” so it’s smooth when rubbed against a tooth and will peel off, like old paint or nail polish does, over time. Soaking will accelerate the peeling off.
Natural and cultured pearls are traditionally strung on silk cord, each pearl with a knot inbetween. It isn’t recommended that pearls get regularly wet (wearing in the shower or swimming) or soaked in liquids because the silk gets wet and it can rot and then break.
Oddly enough, the fauz strand DID have knots between the pearls, but then again, if i were trying to pass something off, it only makes sense.
So to preventive measures for pearls, as long as theyre real and the silk is kept in tact; theyre unnecessary?
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
4,214
With pearls, it’s best not to soak them in any liquids because of the thread getting too wet and maybe breaking. Better to use a very soft toothbrush and mild soapy water and gently clean any dirt off. Pat dry with a soft towel and leave somewhere warm to be sure the thread dries,
Best also to avoid perfumes and lotions with pearls, oils And preservatives can react with the nacre and cause discolouration.
 

AV_

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Messages
3,841
How ruined?

In theory, nacre peels off layer by layer, so removing damaged layers is conceivable.
 
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