Caring for your By Elise Jewellery
Queen of the Gems
From Cleopatra to Madonna pearls have been worn and considered objects of beauty.
No one knows when someone first pried open an oyster and found a pearl – it must have seemed like a magical thing with its soft rainbow-hued radiance. An old Arabic legend romantically explains that pearls were formed when moonlight filled dew drops descended down from the sky into oceans and were swallowed by oysters.
Pearls. A Natural Beauty
Pearls are unlike any other gem because they don’t have to be cut or polished to enhance them. They have a spectacular natural beauty that they make all on their own – their lustre is their soul
For thousands of years pearls have been used exclusively for royalty and nobility in every culture representing wealth, status and power. In China, they were used to decorate the crowns of Emperors, robes of Noblewomen and sacred statues of Buddha. In Hindu, Islamic and Christian traditions pearls symbolised purity and perfection. In ancient Rome and Medieval France only the aristocracy were allowed to wear them and in Elizabethan England only Royalty could wear them – making them an object of desire that everyone aspired to.
Ancient Egyptians prized them so much they were buried with them and Cleopatra was said to have crushed a pearl into a glass of wine to prove to Marc Anthony that she could consume the wealth of an entire country in just one meal. Even the Emperor Caligula (41AD) made his horse a consul and decorated it with a pearl necklace.
Now due to amazing advances in pearl cultivation, growing and harvesting technology – pearls are accessible to everyone. You can wear a pearl necklace today that once only a queen could wear two hundred years ago. Yet this has not diminished their star quality and they are still a prized and cherished jewel and often passed down as treasured heirlooms for generations.
Care of Pearls
The pearl jewellery we wear today are mostly cultured pearls, their existence initiated by humans who insert a bead or grain of sand into an oyster or clam. It then coats the foreign object with nacre which is the patina that gives the pearls its unique lustrous appearance. The depth of the nacre depends on how long the bead was left in and the water it lives in before it is removed. The thickness of the nacre increases the quality of the pearl. Most freshwater pearls have a very thick nacre. Making pearls perfect was not Mother Nature’s aim – surface imperfections are part of a pearl’s natural texture and proof of the pearl’s genuineness.
Handle Pearls With Care
Pearls must be handled carefully to keep them in the best condition.
- Always put them on after your make-up and perfume.
- Remove pearl rings before you apply body creams and take off any pearl jewellery before bathing.
- Wipe your pearls with a dampened cloth when you take them off and before putting them away in order to give them a ‘moisture boost’.
- Never clean your pearls with solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents.
- Don’t put pearl jewellery in an ultrasonic cleaner.
- Pearl necklaces and pearl bracelets should be re-strung periodically, especially if you wear them regularly, so that the silk they are on remains strong.
Don’t store your pearls with other jewellery – they may scratch easily when rubbed against metal or gemstones. Keep them in a soft bag or pouch away from direct heat or sunlight.