Pearls are unique and timeless gems that add elegance and class to your outfit and personality. These precious stones have been in style for centuries now. What’s more, unlike other gems, very little is done to attain the beautiful lustrous appeal it’s coveted for.
One of the main reasons, very little processing is done on pearls is because they are extremely fragile stones. Given this fact, one may wonder how durable and hard real pearls are. Do they scratch easily or not?
In this post we will closely examine the qualities of a pearl and whether or not real pearls do scratch and if so, how to prevent it.
In the last post, we are talking about the yellowed pearls and peeling pearls. Click here to read!
Do Real Pearls Scratch Easily?
Yes, real pearls scratch easily. That’s because on jewelry they are the softest material. Almost all other gemstones are considered harder than it. That is why when storing your pearl jewelry you are often advised not to store them with other pieces of jewelry. They may get scratched by the other gemstones when they come into contact with them.
Different pearl jewelry can’t even be stored together. The other parts of the jewelry, like the thread, clasps or lockers may scratch up the pearls. Some pearls are so soft that they could get scratched if they happen to rub together. Therefore, you need to be extra careful when placing them in storage. They should be laid flat on a soft fabric-lined box such that no parts are touching.
You should also be cautious when putting on and taking off jewelry. Any strong bumps or rough fabric from your clothes or other accessories may easily scratch the pearls. For that reason, it is never a good idea to layer up pearl necklaces with others like metal or diamond necklaces. The pearls are also not able to resist scratching when placed or dropped on a hard or rough surface.
What Is The Mohs Scale Of Real Pearls?
As you may know, the Mohs scale is what is used to determine the hardness of minerals and gems. It ranks them based on how easily or likely they are to be scratched and how easily they can scratch other gems. The scale ranges from one to ten, with ten being the hardest gem. So, the closer to one a gem is ranked the softer it is.
Pearls are ranked between 2.5-4.5. That groups them among the softest gems with the likes of moonstone. Their hardness however may vary based on several factors.
It’s not clear whether cultured pearls are softer or harder than natural pearls.
It is however known that freshwater pearls are made of thicker nacre than saltwater pearls. That could be an indication that freshwater pearls are harder, by comparison.
Some colored pearls may also be harder than others. Black pearls found in Mexico, for example, are considered to be harder than most pearls.
That’s as a result of their tough microcrystalline structure.
What To Do If Your Pearl Scratch Easily?
Given that pearls are such delicate gems, there is little to nothing that can be done if the pearl has already been scratched. That’s because anything you do may risk ruining the pearls and their luster. That is why you should be very careful and avoid using any chemicals that are harsh to the pearl.
But in as much as it seems difficult, there are some solutions people have tried that seem to have worked. One solution, and the safest one, is to try hiding the scratch. If the pearls are for you, you could simply use a pearl polish over the scratch and continue wearing them as is. The polish may however fade over time and you may need to reapply. So, this may not be the best solution if the pearls are for sale.
If you’re a jeweler or are trying to make pearl jewelry, there are other ways you can hide the scratch. For example, if the pearl has not yet been drilled, then drilling the hole where the scratch is, is a great way of hiding it. If you’ve already drilled the pearl then you could hide it as you set it, be it on a ring or earring. You could design a mounting with some vine-like structure to hide the scratches.
Another solution is to polish the pearl, to try to get rid of the scratch. This, however, depends on the pearl. For some pearls doing this may also get rid of their luster. So, you should be careful with how much you buff the pearl. Pearls with thicker nacre are safer to polish or even buff. Some have suggested that freshwater pearls which are known to have thicker nacre, can even be sanded with a 1500grit before being polished. You could also use a 3-M radial bristle brush. But remember to be extra cautious while doing this.
Now that you know your pearls are delicate and easily prone to scratching, there are some things you can do to ensure that they remain in good condition. To begin with, avoid any chemicals or conditions that may weaken the structure of the pearl and make it more prone to scratches. Oils, perfumes, hairspray, and other cosmetics are examples of harmful chemicals, and high temperatures and dry spaces are also conditions to avoid. Frequent wear and cleaning afterward also improve the luster and strength of the pearls, just be careful about bumping them with other jewelry. It also helps to have a jeweler look at the pearls every once in a while. Last but most importantly, how and where you store the pearls go a long way in keeping them from getting scratched.
How To Store Your Pearls To Avoid Scratch In The Future.
Speaking of proper storage, there are various tips you could use to ensure that your pearls are safely put away to avoid any future scratches. The tips are as follows:
- Ensure you clean your pearls and dry them well before storing them. Build up of chemicals and dirt will weaken the pearl making it more susceptible to scratches.
- Store the pearls laying down on a soft fabric lining. This will prevent the pearls from getting scratched by hard surfaces and also from rubbing against each other.
- Keep the pearls in a securely locked place away from your cosmetics and separate from your other jewelry. If you store your jewelry in a jewelry box, ensure it is segmented that way, your pearls will not be in contact with any other jewelry.
- Keep the pearls in a place with high humidity. Remember unlike other jewelry, pearls love moisture. If you keep them in a dry place they may dry up and become weak and brittle. A great tip is to store the pearls in an enclosed space with a container of water to keep the humidity level high. It may however not be a good idea to store your metal jewelry in the same location.
- Wrap the metallic ends of your pearl jewelry when storing them. This is especially if you are storing them in a pouch. First, close the metallic ends and wrap them with a soft fabric before placing them in the pouch. This prevents the metals from scratching the pearls. It is a great tip especially when traveling or transporting pearls and doesn’t have enough space for a jewelry box.
- Keep the pearls away from clothes when packing. Another traveling tip in case you don’t have a pouch or jewelry box to store your pearls in. You can wrap them completely with soft fabric like velvet or linen. Then pack them away from other clothes, since some fabrics are rough and may scratch the pearls.
While pearls are extremely beautiful gems to have on, they are delicate and need to be handled with care. If you plan on having your pearls for a long time, then keep the tips we’ve shared with you in mind.
In case your pearls are already scratched up, you can try the solutions we’ve suggested to resolve them. If it’s not possible, then visit your nearest professional jeweler for advice.
Read more jewelry tips here or here!
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.