I have been thinking about it... pearls are like wine. My mamma always says that the problem with cheap wine is not the night you drink it, it is the morning after. Cheap wine does not make you feel very good the next day! So, why are pearls like wine? Or, more specifically, why are cheap pearls like cheap wine?
Last week I spent the morning with a wonderful Mom and daughter. We met about pearls. They gave The Pearl Girls service team the opportunity to restring some of their heirloom pearl pieces and they found some new Pearl Girls pearls to enjoy too! Well, the mom, Carol, had a strand of pearls she bought from a local jeweler about 10 years ago. They were a 18" strand of 10mm off-round pearls. Their quality was certainly not exceptional but they were pretty and fun. (You know, I rarely say anything bad about pearls because I appreciate the beauty in their uniqueness!) Anyway, Carol was disappointed because she felt like the pearls were prettier and shinier when she bought them ten years ago. She had taken them back to the jeweler to see if she could do anything about them and he told her, "no." She had come to me hoping I would have a better explanation.
Now, when you have a strand a pearls, care is certainly important. Keep them clean and free from acids and oils. Wipe them down after wearing them and clean them with a mild soap and water. Many of you know the Pearl Care Tips. Carol was certain she had followed them.
So, ten years later, what happened to Carol's pearls? If it was not poor care, what could it have been? A few thoughts... First, there are certain treatments that some pearls are given to make them look prettier. One big one is a clear enamel coating. Think of it like a clear fingernail polish that is coated on the surface of the pearls. After much wear, this coating rubs off and the pearl is just not so shiny anymore. So, this could have happened to her pearls. (This is probably a great time to re-emphasize that these were NOT The Pearl Girls pearls!)
Another important thing to know is that cheaper pearls do not look as nice for as long as finer pearls do. High quality pearls are marked by their great nacre, clean surface quality and high luster. These qualities stand the test of time making pearls with these great qualities maintain their look for longer. If these traits are not good to begin with, it is hard to maintain the look of beautiful pearls in the long term. If you put a cheap bottle of wine in your wine cellar for 20 years, the wine will be nothing more than an aged cheap wine. Pearls kept for a long period of time does not make them a better quality pearl.
But, the same way a fine aged wine will be a delicacy so will aged high-quality pearls.
So, drink your fine wine and feel better in the morning and wear your fine pearls and enjoy their beauty for years to come!