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Janes Pearls World - Pearls Jewelry Wholesaler

1. How to care for my cultured pearls

 (1) Because cultured pearls are relatively soft compared to other gemstones and precious metals, it's important to take special care of them to ensure they remain bright and beautiful for generations to come. Cosmetics, perfumes and hair sprays all contain chemicals that can dull the luster of pearls if exposed over extended periods of time. Acids in body oils and perspiration can damage pearls' lustre in the same way. So, it is better to wear your pearls after applying makeup, perfume and hair spray, and then wipe their pearls afterward with a soft damp cloth to remove any harmful build-ups. Occasional washing is also recommended. Janes Pearl World suggests using an unused makeup brush, and warm, soapy water. Lay the pearls on a towel to dry. The wet string can stretch—and attract dirt—so don’t touch a string of pearls until they are completely dry. Pearls worn every few days should be restrung once a year. Also, pearls should always be separated from hard jewelry item(s), whether metals or other gemstones, to prevent them from being scratched. It's best to keep pearls in a soft cloth pouch or a separately lined jewelry box. If you plan to wear your pearls several times a week, it is better to return for restringing once a year to avoid breakage. The strand must be knotted between each pearl, both to prevent the pearls from rubbing against each other, and to save them from all falling should a break occur. With proper attention and handling pearls will last for generations. But if continuously exposed to harmful products -- such as cosmetics or abrasive detergents -- pearls' luster can diminish. For this reason, light cleaning with a soft, damp cloth after each wearing is recommended, along with periodic deep cleaning by a professional pearls store.

(2) Caring/Cleaning Don'ts
- Never use commercial jewelry cleaners unless they are specifically made for pearls.
- Never use ultrasonic, steam cleaners, detergents, baking soda, bleaches, or any ammonia-based cleansers.
- Do not wear pearls necklaces when their string is wet. Wet strings stretch and attract dirt, which is hard to remove.
- Do not use toothbrushes, scouring pads or abrasive materials to clean pearls. They can scratch the pearl's surface.
- Pearls should not be stored in boxes, or where the air is dry or hot, neither be wrapped in cotton or wool.


2. How to check the quality

  • Luster
Luster is the amount of light reflected from the pearl's surface. Luster is the surface glow, as well as the deep mirror-like reflection of the light, or ¡°inner light¡±. Nacre quality in cultured pearls will improve the overall luster. Many even layers of nacre are required to create a highly defined spectrum of color.
  • Blemishes

As a product of nature, tiny marks found on pearls are part of their natural texture and are proof of the genuineness of a cultured pearl. These blemishes are produced by outside sea particles and objects that find their way into the oyster and brush against the pearl. A pearl is considered more valuable when the surface imperfections are minimal.

  • Shape

Perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. Button pearls are round on one side and flat on the opposite end. Other shapes like tear drop and baroque are also favored because of their uniqueness. They are formed when an outside entity attaches itself onto the forming pearl and it is covered by nacre layers.


3. How to distinguish the difference between natural, cultured, and imitation pearls

Let¡¯s first look at separating natural and cultured pearls, which can be somewhat difficult. Even though natural and cultured pearls differ in structure and composition, they may be identical in outward appearance. To separate them, you must look below their surfaces.

Conclusive (nondestructive) identification of pearl origin is possible only with X-radiography.

X-radiography (X-rays) allows us to see beneath the surface of the pearl. It is similar to a doctor X-raying your arm to see if a bone is broken. The bone is denser than your skin, so it shows up brighter on the X-ray film. The bead nucleus of a cultured pearl is denser and thus less transparent to X-rays than the surrounding nacre and conchiolin. Therefore, a demarcation around the bead nucleus will be visible in the X-ray film.

In contrast, a natural saltwater pearl typically will show concentric rings of alternating layers of conchiolin and nacre (similar to the growth rings of a tree).

A more difficult separation is that of natural pearls from tissue-nucleated cultured pearls. There is no bead nucleus in either product.

Again, X-radiography usually can provide the answer. The void left by the tiny piece of mantle tissue inserted into the mollusk to stimulate nacre production typically appears on the X-ray as a small, dark, irregular shape that is usually in the center of the pearl. It is readily visible to a trained observer, although in some cases multiple X-radiographs must be taken from different directions.

In addition to X-radiography, there are some standard gemological observations that might provide an indication as to whether a pearl is cultured:

  • Look down the drill hole using 10x magnification and strong lighting. The usually brown organic conchiolin layer might be visible between the bead nucleus and the nacre layers of the cultured pearl. However, if you do not see the bead nucleus, do not assume the pearl is natural. The reason for this could be:
    - It might be a tissue-nucleated pearl
    - The nacre might be so thick that you cannot see all the way down to the bead
    - The conchiolin layer between nacre and bead might be too thin to be visible
    - It is also possible that the conchiolin layer is a natural growth ring
  • Perform the ¡°blink test.¡± Rotate the pearl under a strong light source.  You might see areas of the bead¡¯s shiny mother-of-pearl that flash or ¡°blink¡± through the nacre. This happens when the nacre on a cultured pearl is so thin that light reflects off the bead nucleus. Some members of the trade call this area a ¡°hot spot,¡± because it looks brighter than the surface of the nacre.
  • ¡°Candle¡± the pearl. Direct a bright, concentrated light source through it. Bead-nucleated cultured pearls may show the wavy parallel structure of the shell bead nucleus.

Less difficult is the separation of imitation pearls from natural and cultured pearls.

Imitation pearls are manufactured to simulate both saltwater and freshwater pearls. They typically are made of glass, plastic, wax, or shell, and are coated with various products to mimic the appearance of natural and cultured pearls. Standard gemological testing and observations should separate the imitation pearl from a natural or cultured pearl:

  • Natural and cultured pearls are carbonates, so they will exhibit birefringence (a carbonate blink) in the refractometer. Glass, plastic and wax are amorphous and will not show birefringence.
  • Look down the drill hole using 10x magnification and strong lighting. An imitation may not show a separation between the glass nucleus and the coating. Also, the drill hole may show the ragged edges of the coating rather than the sharp, well-defined edges of a natural or cultured pearl.
  • Magnification ¨C At 50x magnification, the surface of a natural or cultured pearl typically reveals recessed, step-like depressions and overlapping lines of nacre that look like sutures, while the texture of imitation pearls may look even and smooth.
  • The ¡°tooth test¡± ¨C Because the nacreous surface on a natural or cultured pearl is uneven, it feels gritty or rough when rubbed gently on the biting edge of your front teeth. The surface of an imitation pearl feels smooth by the same test.

Please note that the tooth test should be done discreetly and does not provide absolute proof of a pearl¡¯s authenticity.

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