Favorite Tips for Using and Caring for Your Pearls
If there's one kind of natural bead that I can't get enough of, it's got to be pearls. I can't help it — I'm seduced by their luster, their colors, and the softness that pearls give to my beading and jewelry making projects. When I'm at a bead show and I see tables loaded up with strands of pearls, all I can think about are the potential beading projects that can be made with those colorful, beautiful, natural pearl beads.
But like any bead worth buying, pearls need to be taken care of properly so that they last. Since freshwater pearls are made through a natural or organic process, their luster (shine) and color need to be protected. Like with most handmade beaded jewelry, jewelry made with pearls should not be exposed to perfumes, oils or soaps if at all possible. Here are some other tips for using and caring for your pearls, courtesy of Leslie Rogalski and the readers of Beading Daily!
Thread for knotting pearls. Knotting a strand of pearls on silk thread is the simplest way to protect pearls while creating a classic piece of pearl jewelry that really never goes out of style. Placing a knot between each pearl prevents the pearls from rubbing against each other and cuts down on the wear to the nacre, the coating on the pearl that gives it a distinct glow.
Silk thread has been the material of choice for pearl knotting for many years, but over time, silk thread will stretch and discolor, requiring the pearls to be re-knotted. Most silk thread comes on cards with a twisted wire "needle" already attached to one end, but you can also buy silk thread on spools and use your own needle.
Some beaders have started using synthetic threads for knotting pearls, as these threads don't stretch, won't discolor and won't deteriorate as quickly as silk.
Needles for pearls. A twisted, flexible wire needle is your best bet for stringing pearls when knotting them on silk. Twisted wire needles are ideal for pearl stringing, since you can flatten the eye of the needle with a pair of pliers in order to get it through the tiny holes in most pearls. But be aware that once you flatten the eye of that needle, you won't be able to use it again.
And what about those tiny bead holes in pearls? Pearls can be somewhat difficult to drill and have notoriously tiny holes. While there are some pearls available now that have holes large enough to accommodate a 2mm cord, you can always enlarge the hole in your pearls by using a bead reamer.
Remember when using a bead reamer that you should always work under water and avoid breathing any dust that may be the result of using the bead reamer. Wearing a dust mask can help prevent inhaling unwelcome particles of pearl beads into your lungs. You should also be aware that even a gentle use of a bead reamer may cause a pearl to crack.
Care and storage of your pearls. Don't suffocate your pearls! Pearls need air to maintain that gorgeous luster, so don't store them in tightly sealed plastic bags. Cloth bags that allow the pearls to "breathe" are the best bet for keeping your pearls looking shiny and beautiful.
Pearls and sterling silver look gorgeous when strung together, but silver polish will ruin your pearls. If you want to keep your sterling silver beads shiny and prevent damage to your pearls, store your pearl and silver jewelry in a breathable bag with an anti-tarnish strip.
If you love modern jewelry made with classic elements (like pearls), then you'll definitely want to check out 10 Wire and Pearl Jewelry Designs from the editors of Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. You'll find ten modern wire jewelry designs made with classic pearls that you can wear, well, anywhere! Download your copy of 10 Wire and Pearl Jewelry Designs today and get started making pearl and wire jewelry tonight!
Are you as captivated by working with pearls as I am? Leave a comment and share your favorite pearl jewelry making project with us! Or better yet, take a photo of your gorgeous pearl creation and post it in the Reader Photo Gallery for everyone to see!