Love Those Vintage Pearls!

As a kid, I spent a lot of time playing in my mother's and grandmother's jewelry boxes. When it was time to play dress-up at my grandmother's house, I always gravitated towards a triple-strand vintage pearl necklace that I eventually wore to my eighth grade dinner-dance and my high school graduation. Yes, I've always had a thing for vintage pearls, and when my dear friend sent me a wonderful collection of some cherished family heirloom jewelry last year, I was thrilled beyond words to discover that there were several necklaces made with vintage glass pearls included in my new stash of vintage jewelry.

These three imitation pearl necklaces obviously needed a little bit of TLC — a couple of the strands had broken off of the clasps, and the findings themselves were in need of some cleaning and restoration.

How Were Faux Pearls Made?

Check out the pearl clasps on each of these vintage pearl necklaces in my collection! Some of them really need a little love.

The vintage pearl beads that made up the four-strand necklace were obviously glass, since they were heavier than the other two pearl necklaces. And the pearl beads themselves were in pretty good shape, with just one or two minor blemishes that I could see.

Vintage imitation glass pearls were made by either filling the inside of a bead or coating the outside of a bead with pearl powder. After filling or coating, the glass pearl bead was dipped into different solutions of pearl film. Multiple layers of pearl coating and film resulted in a more valuable and more durable piece of pearl jewelry.

Cleaning and Storing Your Vintage Faux Pearls

Cleaning your vintage pearls is a tricky business. You don't want to use any kind of ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, nor do you want to use anything harsh with ammonia or other abrasive cleaners. The best way to clean your vintage imitation pearls is just to give them a gentle spray with some very mild detergent diluted with water in a spray bottle, then a light rinse under cool water. Don't rub them dry, or you might find the coating is flaking off — instead, lay your pearls flat to dry on a soft, absorbent cloth.

Storing your imitation pearls is the same as storing your natural, cultured, or freshwater pearls. instead of using a plastic bag, tuck your treasured pearls into a soft, dry, cloth bag, and store them lying flat so that the thread on which they're strung doesn't stretch or break.

Coating your imitation glass pearls? Make sure you do it in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside, and use just a light coating of spray-on acrylic sealer. Allow them to dry completely before re-stringing or knotting them.

Using Vintage Pearls in a New Jewelry Design?

Now, there's nothing that says that just because you have a vintage pearl necklace, it has to stay a vintage pearl necklace. While you're giving your pearls a little loving care, why not think about ways to use them in new jewelry designs? Check out all the amazing pearl jewelry making projects in our 10 Wire and Pearl Jewelry Designs eBook. You'll find pearl necklace projects, earring projects, and bracelet projects that use your favorite wire jewelry making techniques, including chain maille and wire wrapping.

Give some new life to your favorite old pearl jewelry! Download your copy of 10 Wire and Pearl Jewelry Designs and make something fabulous today!

Do you have any vintage pearl necklaces in your stash? What are you thinking about doing with them? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your ideas with us!

Bead Happy,


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